ePortfolio Plans

Posted: August 12, 2010 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about eportfolios for a long time. All last school year I was looking around, talking to folks, listening to webinars/elluminate sessions, tweeting, etc. about it and trying to figure out exactly what to and what format to use.

What are my goals anyway? Well here is what I want the portfolio to be able to do:

  • Students each have a portfolio that they own, not me.
  • Students can take this portfolio with then into the future, because of course they will fall in love with the idea and will make this a habit even without me (I say dream big or don’t bother!)
  • Ability to add artifacts and comment on them
  • Ability to add video and screencasts
  • Ease of use: some 5th graders think they are 15, but they aren’t
  • Option for sections/pages by subject area or skill

Here’s how I imagine the portfolio working into my classroom:

  • We will begin with 1 subject-Language Arts then add Social Studies and Math
  • At the beginning of each unit, as usual, I’ll explain our skill goals and final projects/products to show new learning
  • Use anticipation guide of key skills and concepts before and then review after
  • Once unit is finished, work is returned with comments, and discussions have happened we will have a self-evaluation period in which students use 1-5 scale to rate habits and skills and write a little about their work on the unit
  • Students pick an artifact that represents their best understanding/work to add to the portfolio for this unit
  • Record and embed commentary on the artifact chosen (I imagine this being a video discussion with me at first and ultimately a camtasia screencast by the student.)
  • When we add math to the portfolio my plan is to have students make “how-to” videos/voicethreads/screencasts

Things that I haven’t figured out yet:

  • Where all this time will come from (I am considering some “creative” scheduling with Library and Computer time and am working on how to sell this to the teachers of those classes)
  • What I will cut from the curriculum to make this a reality
  • How to organize (by subject or skill–in some ways skill makes more sense, but might not be practical in school at this point)
  • Exactly what the template should start out looking like (again, I’m trying to think not just about what would work for me now, but what makes sense to begin as a potentially continuing project)

So, time is ticking away before the students arrive.

I am pretty sure that it makes the most sense for the portfolios to be wikis-no extra cost for video or storage, discussion options, multiple pages that can be organized and re-organized. I am also quite certain that this is the right thing to do, for all sorts of reasons. And, after a 2 day workshop with Dr. Judy Willis I am convinced that this makes the most sense in terms of the brain and learning (students needing to see incremental progress and the importance of prediction and feedback). I am also glad to have found another teacher who is thinking about the exact same things with her 5th graders. I am looking forward to keeping in touch with her during the year to compare notes.

Then, the other day I was participating in an #elemchat on twitter and Silvia Tolisano (@langwitches) put in a link to a blog post she wrote about the topic: fantastic visuals and a great video of Dr. Helen  Barrett (who it turns out is known as the grandmother of interactive portfolios) at TEDxASB.

So, I’ve got back-up resources (why and how-to), a peer in the trenches, and the motivation. Now, I just need my class list so I can get started. That’s a lot of wikis to get set-up.

  1. Gary Bertoia says:

    Sounds like you will be busy! Have had one trial semester using blogs for portfolios and think it worked quite well. My issue was providing prompts for the students when they started collecting artifacts. Found some resources that will hopefully help with that.
    I liked the ideas in this video about how they organized their portfolio http://vimeo.com/8922535 We still have to make a decision about how we will organize our porfolios through our grade level teams. I also have a lists of resources on Diigo related to eportfolios. http://www.diigo.com/list/gebertoia/portfolios

    Good luck.

  2. Susan Young says:

    Lots of good thoughts and questions. Hard work before the hard work begins.

  3. mseiteljorg says:

    Gary, thanks for these resources.

    I am not too worried about writing prompts since they will be reflecting on work. I have already used self-reflection guides that worked pretty well. And, since the work changes, I don’t find that the questions (or prompts) need to change that much. For my 5th graders, repeating a similar process (reflecting with guidance, writing in a particular style, etc) with different information or content is very effective. It takes a few times to practice the format anyway.

    Susan, I am ready, I think.

  4. I think there’s another thing you need to put on your to-do list. If the students are going to take their portfolios with them, those portfolios need to have some chance of remaining useful as technology changes. That is, no matter what you use as the “container’ for their individual items, the odds are good that the container technology will change, more than once, before they have finished high school. So maybe the individual items need to be stored separately in formats that are as plain-vanilla as possible so that, no matter what happens to the container technology, the individual items will remain available. For instance, if there’s a simple art project – something that has been photographed or scanned, for example, with the image going into the portfolio – that image should be stored (in the student’s computer, on a CD or a thumb drive, that’s not important because the file can be copied and moved) in the most easily-used format possible – jpg in this instance – so that it – the individual item – is more immune to harm, loss, or obsolescence. I think that kind of long-term storage of the individual files needs to be built into your portfolio system if it’s to have utility for more than a year or two.

    • mseiteljorg says:

      That’s a good idea. All the stuff that gets uploaded to the wiki will be saved on the wiki as well as embedded in there. But, it’s probably a good idea to save as much as possible in a “plain-vanilla” format.

      Thanks for the comment.

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