Matt Renwick of Reading by Example has invited educators to a month-long book club study of his Digital Student Portfolios ebook. Read his overview intro post here and join the Google+ Community. It promises to be a great learning experience.
Chapter One: Purposes for Digital Portfolios
First, digital portfolios reinforce meaningful and purposeful learning: they represent the student’s choice in reflection and sharing to their audience as well as the school; they differentiate for the learners and their goals, and are part of the daily work of students as creators and designers of their own learning in collaboration with the teacher and peers. This picture tells more than any standardized test score, report card grade, or mark on a piece of work.
Technology provides a variety of tools through which students can explain their growth and their mastery. Technology allows students more options in the content, and can choose relevant topics; access to current events and historical documents online allow the curriculum to be relevant. By sharing on line, others can participate with feedback of celebration and of suggestions. Technology allows teacher and learner work to be comprehensive and personalized.
Thinking about the Digital — It’s about engagement, so what is the:
Available — for students to connect
Connective — bandwidth
Compatible — with needs of learner
Allocation — time, funding, training
Resources — why that tool?
Content — how connects to expected essential understandings
Integration — with curriculum, instruction, assessment to support learning
Agency — that students may self-assess and revise to improve
Visible — learning is sharable
Independence — able to self-assess and work towards potential
Inquiry — results in further thoughts and research
Empathy — engaging in conversations, feedback, and learning with others
How do we lead others?
I appreciated the review by Matt Renwick of Michael Fullen’s book The Principal. I believe the in the concept of “learning leaders,” which the principal must be, because in my classroom, I must learn along side my students as the lead learner there. I cannot forget what it means to be a learner, and I will learn about and from my students. A principal should do the same with his/her staff. Read the article for other key points.
And what are we learning?
In my classroom, we learn for two purposes: the state requirements and the student’s interests and development as a whole person.
In our school, we learn for two purposes: the state/federal requirements and the practices, pedagogy, and essential principles that engage students and empower them to self-directed learning.
1M : The Prompt
An important rationale for a learning portfolio is “to provide a vehicle for reflection and exhibition.” Reflection means to look at the process and product of the work so far, to see what was done well and what needs improving. That would include the benefits of “make learners aware of their own growth” and “to accommodate for students’ individual needs.”
In the classroom I see this as formative assessment with criteria [perhaps a rubric or checklist], which grows and changes as the project continues and the student’s work is revised. I see perhaps an annotated list of links whereby students share where they are and where they need to go, and when they get there, they explain and share that link, if different. Peers and teachers can provide feedback.
At the end of the project, a final review of the process and product would be easier, and students then publish their final project with a link to their process of learning. I’m still considering the tools. Blogs would be the final published product, I think — but a website would also work. As a Google Apps school, a Google document or slides would work for the reflective pieces, and I’m pretty sure there’s a Chrome add-on or extension to add audio.
One writing strategy students learn is elaboration. We learned several elaboration strategies, and then students read a one-page story to identify the strategies used by quoting from the story and pasting the quote into a google form to explain what and why that quote exemplified the strategy. Then students visited the resulting spreadsheet and agreed/disagreed with their peers responses through comments. I was pleased they responded to each other, and in positive ways.
In this way, students helped each other learn, and I could see at a glance two different ways which students understood. This helped them apply the strategies in their own writing because they truly understood it. The students who did not understand all the strategies talked about it to each other while they were commenting. We then came together as a class to discuss the nuances of two strategies [details / description ] that overlapped. We would not have had that deep of a conversation with this process.