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Year-round Open Houses at School Thanks to Technology

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By Alexandra Coutlée 
Coordinator of Pedagogical Services
@coutleea

Aside from email, there wasn’t much technology available when my daughter was in elementary school that allowed me to peek into what she was learning. I did, of course, sign a lot of assignments and evaluations on paper. My daughter brought projects home, which gave me a glimpse of some of her progression. During school visits or parent meetings, I had little insight into what was going on in class and the activities she was a part of with her classmates.

In high school, I was able to get a glimpse into my daughter’s educational progress primarily through our conversations and observations of her homework assignments. I occasionally found writing assignments or notebooks when organizing her room, and I could then talk to her about what I found.

These days, technology opens the door wide open to our children’s learning, providing much more than just a window. It even gives parents the option to encourage and provide comments in order to support learning. Parents now have access to more learning traces because of technology, whether through digital portfolios or simply through the sharing of documents, images, or other artifacts that showcase learning.

Recently, a friend proudly showed me his daughter’s digital portfolio. There were traces of what she had learned in kindergarten and through her first year of school. In the same portfolio, he could also follow her academic progress for the current year. When I was looking through his daughter’s portfolio, I saw shared photo albums as well as a ton of comments from her parents, grandparents, godfather, godmother, and even her older sister. Naturally, there were also compliments as well as comments on her progress. Mentions were made about the observed improvement in her drawing technique or her proficiency in writing.

Sharing classroom videos enables parents who are unable to be in class at all times to observe the improvement in reading fluency or the complete reflective process behind an assignment. It is possible to observe the development of a child’s social and emotional learning progress and recognize the behaviours that are witnessed thanks to the interactions that are recorded during small-group activities.

Teachers can benefit from digitally recording all of these learning tidbits. They can track a wider range of information about each of their students, which is one advantage. Another is parent-child communication, which is also improved.

I’m thinking, for instance, of the book-report podcast project that was done with first graders at Prévost Elementary School in Saint-Jérôme last year. Receiving feedback from listeners made the students feel incredibly proud. What a wonderful keepsake for parents who could witness how their children’s love of reading developed over time!

Students find it incredibly rewarding to see their own development as well. A coworker who had brought a young high school student from another province to Québec for three months to study French on an exchange program had the idea to document her learning using Flipgrid (now Flip). Throughout her stay, this student was given one video challenge per week, which helped her see her progress. A lovely souvenir of her experience, for sure, but more than anything, she was proud to be able to witness her own progress as she learned French.

Technology provides us with a wide range of tools to track learning, both as teachers and students. Additionally, it allows students’ parents and other family members to participate in this process. A village is needed to raise a child, according to a proverb. Thankfully, technology has greatly broadened the village’s boundaries!

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