Instant communication and twice yearly report cards…

I am a ‘cloud granny’ , ever appreciative of the miracle of instant global connection which technology affords us…

Usually when I write about the Granny Cloud, it’s in the context of Mitra’s School in the Cloud.

Cloud ‘Grannies’ all over the world (people of all ages and genders) interact regularly and electronically with kids in a range of settings, currently mostly in India, but expanding to other countries too. As these sessions unfold, it’s rewarding to observe the children’s confidence grow, English improve and computer skills develop.

And I am also a ‘real’ Cloud Granny…

When my kids were little, we would take photos of their latest achievements, wait till the film was developed and then mail the prints a week later to the grandparents overseas. By the time they were received, the photos were out of date.

skypegrannyToday, I wake up to a series of photos and videos of 15 month old Shai’s latest antics. By mid afternoon in my time zone, I can expect the inevitable ‘Skype? ‘ message and I hear him laughing before we can even see each other on the screen.

The lovely teacher at Shai’s day care has set up a private Facebook page, where she posts photos and messages of the daily activities, so parents and (even faraway) grandparents can enjoy seeing the children playing, learning and interacting. It’s a joy to observe Shai’s love of animals on the day the animal lady comes and to watch his progress as he gradually learns to join in with the older children in musical and art activities.

So…

Why is it that, in this day and age of instant communication, schools and parents still expect the kind of report card suited to another era? 

Why do report cards traditionally go out twice a year, when there are endless ways teachers and learners can, and do, communicate their learning throughout the year?

Why do teachers spend great chunks of time writing a summative assessment on a final report, when formative assessment, goals and ‘feed forward’ during the year are so much more valuable?

Why don’t teachers, parents and learners share the learning via online portfolios, easily accessible throughout the year, demonstrating process, progress and final product, with facility for reflection by students, feedback by parents and ‘feedforward’ by teachers? (Let me know if you have a great system, we’re working towards it.)

Why don’t learners communicate their learning more with parents and the wider world through the many possible channels available online?

Why do governments and school administrators continue to dictate not just the existence of report cards, but often the format and parameters they should fit?

Why don’t we abandon report cards altogether?

Now, to prepare for the meeting in which we will review our reports and do our best to make them fit expectations and requirements…

10 thoughts on “Instant communication and twice yearly report cards…

  1. As I sit and proofreading thousands of words that it has taken teachers hours of torment to write and will take parents minutes to scan, I so very much hope that your provocative questions will find a brave enough team to be the first to abandon this dinosaur and step into the future! Thanks for an inspiring post!

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  2. Here in Victoria, state and Catholic schools have recently been given an opportunity to, once again, have more input into how they report to parents (I have been witness to the pendulum of central control swinging back and forth all through my teaching career). So this is a question now re-emerging in many of the schools in which I work. It is an exciting time. A small parish school not far from where I live is working on how they will utilize a twitter-style, customised app they already use to communicate with parents to provide regular feedback about children’s learning. We have discussed the use of class blogs and learning journals as ongoing ‘learning snapshots’ parents can view…and this works beautifully with what we have already put in place through what the schools calls ‘learning conversations’ that replace the old style P-T interviews. It’s a good time for many schools to ask themselves…’if we had FULL choice over what and how we ‘reported’ to parents…if we do a total reporting make-over…what would we do and how would we do it? What a great whole school, professional inquiry… Thanks Edna!

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  3. Hello Edna, I am Monica Aldridge a junior at the University of South Alabama. I am studying to be an elementary teacher, specializing in special education. As a parent I would like to know my daughter’s progress more often. I also would like to hear from her teachers more then once a year, better communication would be great. I like the idea of using Facebook or Blogger to show the progress of the students online.

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