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.