Digital tools are changing the way teachers report to parents on their children’s progress with an increasing number of schools investing in new technology.

 

Schools are using apps such as Seesaw to enhance student learning and connections between home and school.

 

Te Puke Primary School trialled Seesaw at the end of 2016 with positive results.

Te Puke Primary School principal Shane Cunliffe. Photo/Supplied

Principal Shane Cunliffe said 95 per cent of families are now connected with the school through Seesaw and it has strengthened the link between families, students and teachers.

“Real time learning, evidencing and feedback enables each learning partner to actively contribute to the growth of each child when it matters…now, not yesterday, last week, last month or last term.”

Having a learning portfolio through Seesaw has enabled students to develop self-efficacy and confidence in their learning due to the feedback they receive in real time, he said.

“I firmly believe that learning analytics will change the learning pathways and personalise learning for every child across the world and connect the learning partners that can influence the growth and progress of each child.”

It hasn’t replaced written reports and it has been combined with these and other learning evaluation methods to show each child’s progress, he said.

“All of our whānau love seeing and connecting with the growth of their child, in real time…it also gives our whānau and their children a context to unpack when they get home each day, celebrating and reflecting what has been shared.”

While it has been ultimately successful there have been a few teething issues that the school has tried to remedy.

“It has taken time to authentically build this into our learning culture so that it is part of what we do and streamlines the process of learning, assessing, reflecting and improving.

“With that comes significant learning around coherence, consistency and a commitment of all to build the capacity of akonga, kaiako and whānau as effective learning partners.”

Talk frames, scaffolds and protocols have needed to be developed to ensure that Seesaw is a deliberate and intentional part of the learning at Te Puke Primary School.

It has also added a significant amount to each teacher’s workload due to the need to approve posts, comment, respond and provide feedback.

Invercargill mother of two Kelly Allwood said her children’s school, Invercargill Middle School, uses Seesaw to share students’ work which, in addition to other reporting methods, has deepened her connection with the school

“The teachers are really good at giving me updates in person about where the children are sitting with learning or what areas they want to push them more in.

“This along with seeing work shared on Seesaw and going and looking at their work in class (I’m lucky enough to have time to do this) lets me see and understand where they are at with their development/ progress.”

Zara Murphy, whose two children attend Rotorua’s Westbrook School, said real-time reporting through Seesaw, Skool Loop and Facebook has been useful but has some drawbacks.

“I like the updates from class activities but don’t like the reliance on the apps of sharing notes and letters.

“I still much prefer paper copy, I miss receiving their reports home. It can make it harder to share things with family/whanau.”

The best way to share a child’s progress at school would be a mixture of real-time, day-to-day sharing and paper copies sent home, she said.

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