Portfolio Organization


When I first started doing student led conferences in 1996 my colleagues and I brainstormed about the best way to store the evidence of learning for each student. Honestly, the best we could come up with was pizza boxes. We asked the local pizza shop to donate 120 pizza boxes for the sake of learning and they happily obliged. Fortunately, technology has joined our tool box so we have several 21st century choices to store student's evidence of learning.

Blogs and wikis are two of the most productive ways to showcase student work. As students and teachers are being introduced to web 2.0 tools, I find it easiest to have them use both tools. It's absolutely appropriate to use another type of shared space throughout the digital portfolio process but you should provide two separate spaces for students; one space for a working portfolio and one space as a showcase portfolio. The reflection process will connect the two.

The Blogging Platform


Why:
Using a blog is ideal for students because it is an online environment that can hold all of the reflections for their various pieces of work. As students move through projects at school, reflecting about what is going well, what is not going well, and about what they are learning is part of developing the meta-cognition process. Additionally, students can go through the goal setting process on their blogs. From writing initial goals to consistent reflection about the progress towards the goals, students become more cognizant of their own successes and areas in need of improvement.

Students have the option of password protecting some of their more personal blog posts if they do not wish to share them with the world. For example, if a student's health goal was to lose weight or increase their speed while running the mile, they may wish to share their successes or lack their of with their teachers and parents only. I feel that's it's important to say that the password protect feature should be used sparingly and only for highly personal information. As educators it is our charge to educate our students about creating, maintaining and protecting their digital footprint. Learning about digital citizenship cannot happen behind a the cloak of frequent password protected posts. If you do decide to go with passwords, pre-assign a unique password to each student at the beginning of the school year. A team of teachers or the tech coordinator should maintain the list of student post passwords AND ensure that all teachers in the school have a copy of the confidential list.

When students use a blog to reflect on their work over a school year, it's an ideal situation for teachers. Teachers have the ability to gather all of their student blogs into one place through the use of RSS feeds like Google Reader and Netvibes. Reporting out about student progress towards goals and giving feedback about projects and their reflection about their learning is streamlined when students use the blogging platform. Teachers cannot only pull up their Reader on any computer to monitor student progress, they can use an LCD projector with their Reader account to have class discussions around that progress.

How:
Using a Wordpress Multi-User (MU) installation is one of the best ways to get all of your teachers and students up on a blog. A single installation of Wordpress MU will allow the school to create an unlimited number of blogs and will give the school administrative rights over all blogs.

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NETS - Students


Using the NETS for students to guide digital portfolio organization may lead to sustainability of the portfolio. The cycle would start with goal setting, working porfolio entries around the subjects and NETS strands, showcase portfolio and goal setting. Reflection is the key component that keeps the cycle going.



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Creativity and Innovation

Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
Students:
  • apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
  • create original works as a means of personal or group expression
  • use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
  • identify trends and forecast possibilities

Communication and Collaboration

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
Students:
  • interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media
  • communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats
  • develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures
  • contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems

Research and Information Fluency

Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
Students:
  • plan strategies to guide inquiry
  • locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
  • evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
  • process data and report results

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.
Students:
  • identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation
  • plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project
  • collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions
  • use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions

Digital Citizenship

Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.
Students:
  • advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
  • exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
  • demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
  • exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

Technology Operations and Concepts

Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.
Students:
  • understand and use technology systems
  • select and use applications effectively and productively
  • troubleshoot systems and applications
  • transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies


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Goal Setting Areas

Many students would like to use the standard goal of "I will be on honor roll", but as educators we must push them to think deeper and grow as individuals. Ask students to create goals in three distinct areas:

  • Intellectual/Academic
  • Physical/Wellness
  • Personal/Behavior

If they still choose the honor roll goal, the responsible teacher response should be, "And what would prevent your from getting onto honor roll?" The answer to this question usually ends up becoming the student's goal. Some students would like to see examples of goals in the three areas. Share them after your class has gone through a brainstorming session.

Resources







Sites:
http://learnquebec.ca/en/content/pedagogy/portfolio/tools/index.html

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