Fresh Grade

fgIf you were paying attention to your email last Friday you know that we now have Fresh Grade up and running for K to 7 classrooms! Yahoo!

If you’ve used Fresh Grade in the past, you likely have a plan for how you’re going to use it. If you’ve decided that this year is the year you make the leap into Fresh Grade, here are a few things to think about before or as you get going!

Free vs SD45 Account

Yes, you can get a free account but the district has an enterprise account and I advise you to use that one. When you use the district account, parent emails are already added in and all you have to do is send the invites. Also, district accounts are automatically archived and a student’s work will follow them from year to year.

Names, Names, Names….

You have likely noticed that the names in your Fresh Grade classroom might not exactly match the names of the kids you see in your room every day! That is because Fresh Grade pulls names and data from MyEd BC, where students are known by their legal names. Those might be quite different from the names you use in class! At this time, there is no way to change those names. I ended up taking pictures of my class and uploading them for each kid – it helps with identification!

Post Once, Twice?

Think about how often you are going to post to Fresh Grade, what you are going to post and who is going to post it. Make sure you set reasonable goals for this. I know a kindergarten teacher who made a goal to post a Math centres picture with an explanation to all her students’ accounts once a week, a Grade 3 teacher who taught her students to use the iPads to post a picture and reflection of something they were proud of each week and with my Grade 7 class the students posted pictures and reflections of their work and I posted video and assessments on a weekly basis.

How often you choose to post and who does the posting will be up to you. However, be thoughtful about it – the idea is to post exemplars and indications of learning and progress. In my experience of using Fresh Grade over the past few years, my students’ self-reflections have been very powerful indicators of their learning and self-awareness.

What To Post?

Images – Pictures do tell a thousand words! And they don’t need to be pictures of the students themselves. Post pictures of their work, centers or activities you do in class or even field trips. The one caution here would be students whose parents have said “no pictures” – be careful not to include those students in pictures that go out to everyone else.

Video – I often use video to capture my students doing presentations. There are two advantages to this – parents get a window in to the classroom and I can mark their presentations later rather than scrambling to mark them as I watch them. Just be aware that video clips can’t be too long and that uploading them at school can sometimes be slow.

Sound – One of the coolest uses of this I’ve seen was from a primary teacher who recorded her students reading once a term. At the end of the year, you could listen to all three recordings and really hear how much the student had improved!

Self-reflections – As I noted before, this can be very powerful. I do spend a bit of the time at the beginning of the year teaching my students what a good self-reflection looks like and before long they are writing self reflections that are in-depth and very interesting.

Written work – students can add writing right into Fresh Grade. If the work you want to include is on paper, I suggest taking a picture of it. If you want to upload a digital file, it needs to be in PDF format at this point.

Help and Support

Finally, if you have questions about using Fresh Grade, they have loads of support! You can find support on the website here and there is often interesting information in the Fresh Grade blog here. You can also check out their Youtube channel.