Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Digital Portfolios: Where to start? #3

 Digitalportfolios: Key #3: Teach Differently
This is the long awaited third and final part in a series on digital portfolio first steps.  In this series, I have been sharing what I call keys to starting digital portfolios.  In Digital Portfolios: Where to Start Part #1, I share that teachers need to have a digital portfolio themselves to have any credibility when asking students to develop theirs. In Digital Portfolios: Where to Start Part #2, I share that the second key is to take a look what others are doing with digital portfolios.  I shine a light on portfolio platforms such as Freshgrade, Weebly.com, Bulbapp.com, Edublogs.org, and Kidblog.org and the teachers who are using them.

The final key to starting digital portfolios will maximize the potential of the portfolio.  It is the real game-changer.  Through this key you will realize that the portfolios are going to ask as much from you as they ask from your students.  Student work is now on display and that work has to be individual, meaningful, and show growth over time.  It's not business as usual.

Key #3: Teach differently: Ask yourself how digital portfolios will change your teaching.

The digital portfolio is not just a place where students can display their work.  They can also demonstrate their understanding of an idea or their proficiency in a skill.  They not only can give answers, but explain reasoning.  And they now have to defend their ideas as others comment on them.  This is no static summative display board.  This is a dynamic learning and growing space.

How does that change my teaching?
     - now that I know that parents are looking at this, how does that change what I do in the classroom?
     - now that I know prospective employers are looking at this, how does that change what our projects look like?
     - now that I know that these are student portfolios (not teacher hand in boxes) how does that open the door for choice?

Let's think about that for a second.  Would a completed integers worksheet be the best to demonstrate competency in a certain area, or would a video of the student explaining their understanding of integers be better?  Furthermore, could that video in turn help a younger buddy class with their understanding?

And again, would a completed lab where students have followed the instructions to a tee be the best activity to show that students understand the scientific method or would students' own inquiry into their own question, creating their own experiment and data, best demonstrate understanding?

I saw this play out today as I looked at the Edublogs.org reader that updates every time a student in our school posts.  Here are two of the posts that came up from Bree Mireau's Science 10 class (although I could have picked any number of excellent posts flowing through the reader).

Kinga and Mona: "Magic Science"

Matty and Jaron: "Science is Magic"

These student videos show so much more than a lab handout with all the parts filled in.  The students got to choose an experiment that interests them.  They got to show their competency in carrying out the experiment.  They were able to explain what happened.  There is no question that they know what happened during the experiment; they are teaching it!  These videos are now a permanent part of their digital portfolios.  If you were interested in hiring a lab assistant, would seeing something like this have an impact on your choice?  I think it would.  But portfolio content like this can only happen if the teacher opens the door for it.  What will you open the door for with your digital portfolios?

This bookends Digital Portfolios: where to start? Thank you for walking through this with me.  More than providing a step by step method to starting digital portfolios, I hope that you found something here to cause you to think, that you will move ahead in your digital portfolio journey--possibly not in the way you thought but maybe in the way you hoped, and that these posts have inspired you.  And where our inspiration leads, our feet follow.

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