Prior to our using the AltSchool platform, we worked with a team of Altschool educators, developers and technicians for many months. In addition to becoming familiar with the platform, we worked on narrowing down goals as to why we at TBSIS wanted to use the platform to enhance our practices. The platform is not a program or a curriculum. The Alt team we worked with always reiterated that the platform was created to amplify our already existing progressive, Reggio inspired practices. The goals that we created were to:
•Make nuanced learning experiences visible to parents through observation and documentation.
•Document student outcomes through habit milestones.
•Document student outcomes through academic milestones.
Once these goals were established, we worked with the Alt team and our team to create strategies through the use of the platform that would help us achieve these goals. Being a school in which emergent learning and deep studies are so important, we wanted to make sure we were assessing learners on academic benchmarks and capturing learning habits such as creativity, grit, empathy and perseverance effectively. Before the platform, educators would take copious handwritten notes and then transfer them to another format to later transfer again as a documentation panel. Prior to our implementation of the platform, we would capture evidence of meeting benchmarks, but not in an organized and complete way. The platform enables our educators to:
•Document and share emergent learning moments.
•Communicate classwide news, learning updates, and student growth.
•Invite parents and members of the school community to Learning Showcases to celebrate student work
•Anchor to habits milestones in the assessment of social emotional learning moments.
•Set meaningful goals with students based on social and emotional learning needs.
•Use milestones for tagging and assessing student academic work.
•Set meaningful goals with students based on academic learning needs.
•View student progress.
As a learning community, we are constantly looking back to our original goals and thinking of ways the platform can help. Whenever we want to institute something new or as we work on the platform and wonder how something can be more effective, we always look to the Alt team first as a resource. Their goal as a company is to make our work more effective.
As we reflect on or first year using the platform, we believe that we started the year, highlighting the platform to families too much. The benefits to families are not as tangible as we thought they would be. The benefits are tremendous, but they are more evident to the educators. Families enjoy seeing evidence of their child’s learning, growth and progression. They receive messages from teachers and see photos of their child, engaged. However, their expectations of what they thought the platform would be, have not been met in their minds. Based on this, moving forward, we wouldn’t highlight the platform at the beginning of the year as much as we did. For families, we would focus on it more as a communication tool.
In our second year using the platform, we will work on new strategies to achieve our existing goals and create new goals and strategies. We look forward to the possibilities that the Altschool platform can provide.
Assistant Head Of School
Temple Beth Sholom Innovative School