Inquiry and ePortfolios

As a new school year approaches, I am excited about what my new class will teach me.  I know I will learn as much as they do, especially since I am planning a whole new approach to learning in my classroom.  I want to include much more Inquiry Based Learning and be more of a co-learner with them, rather than the “sage on the stage”.  I don’t know exactly which directions we will travel in…because much of what we do will be based on their interests and passions, but I do know that one important area that I want them to be inquisitive about is that of their own learning.  And one way we will inquire about our own learning is through the use of ePortfolios.

Here is a piece of a blog I wrote a little while back, on my home blog.  I am including it because it discusses how I approach ePortfolios and why.

Last school year, my students created ePortfolios for the first time.  I had never done a project like this with a class before, but because of my interest in technology, I thought this was a wonderful project for us to do!  In the BC curriculum it states that students should “select images from their own portfolio for class presentation
and/or public display, and give reasons for this selection” and to “compare a developed artwork to their initial drafts and explain how their ideas have changed and developed,” in regards to Art.  Well, I believe it is important to be able to do this in all subject areas, not just art.  So I explained to my students that we were going to look through all of our work and choose the things we were most proud of; the projects that we learned the most from, and the assignments that really showed our learning and we were going to put those works onto a website where we could showcase them.  They were very excited to start and what I love about this project is that I did not have any samples to show them (as this was new for me) and so they really got to make their ePortfolios their own!  Again something that we all strive for in education, to have students take ownership of their learning!  This is also echoed by the Ministry of Education as they encourage us to help students build “key competencies like self-reliance, critical thinking, [and] inquiry”.  We decided to build our portfolios usingweebly because it is a very user friendly site and my students were familiar with it because our class websiteis a weebly site which I created.  The picture below will take you to one student’s ePortfolio where he has kindly linked all of my students’ ePortfolios.

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They were a success!  The students loved creating their own websites and I loved seeing them reflect upon previous projects and assignments!  Many students even created extra pages where they discussed items of importance to them that were not a part of our learning over the year (such as a page devoted to Martin Luther King, Jr—one student’s hero, and a dolphin information page).  They taught themselves how to add music to their websites (something I did not know how to do, but was thrilled about because they were teaching themselves and each other how to do something new!!  Another skill we want our students to have—self-sufficiency and the ability to learn on their own).
Picture

Picture

If you haven’t tried creating portfolios (electronic or otherwise), I highly suggest you give it a chance next year.  They are a wonderful way to allow students to be creative, express themselves and become more reflective of their learning and growth.

One regret I have is that we did not start the ePortfolios earlier in the school year.  We only began in third term, and therefore we only had a few months left of school to document.  Next year, we will begin at the start of the year and we will continue all year long (and hopefully even into future grades, as my teaching partner,Hugh McDonald, show them to the rest of the staff at our school as well as the high school our students feed into.  Our vision being that students would begin these ePortfolios in Kindergarten and continue them right through high school.

I also regret not giving the students time to peer-assess their portfolios.  While we were working on them, they did, of course, collaborate and help each other out at times, but they weren’t given specific time to share.  Sharing with peers and giving feedback is, of course, a key part of any publishing process and in our rush to finish them before the end of the year, we overlooked that step.  Next year, we will move slower (and stop along the way to share) and I expect their ePortfolios to be even more amazing!

It has been suggested to me by many people on twitter that I use evernote next year as a way of keeping track of the students learning and then the website as a way of showcasing the best.  I am currently leaning towards that route for next year (as I can see the value of having the two types) and am going to spend a day with AnneMarie Middleton (fellow Surrey school teacher) working through how to make this work, before making up my mind.

But I wonder…have you created ePortfolios with your students?  What format do you use?  How do you have your students inquire about their own learning?

About Gallit Zvi

Teacher for SD36, Grad student at SFU, love learning, #geniushour chat co-moderator (see geniushour.wikispaces.com for details) I blog at gallitzvi.com I tweet from @gallit_z
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3 Responses to Inquiry and ePortfolios

  1. Joy Kirr says:

    Gallit,
    I’m so excited for you on this journey. I have decided e-portfolios is one thing I am passing on this year, as I’m invested in other things and our school doesn’t even do paper portfolios! Yikes, I know! But I’d love to start feeling staff out for this one, and your trials this year will benefit me and many others, I’m sure of it!

    I will join you, however, by not being the “sage on the stage” this year, but being the “guide on the side.” Enjoy the journey, and be sure to report out with Hugh and Anne!

    Sincerely,
    Joy

  2. Pingback: Blog-TE » Blog Archive » LiveText – acompanhamento e progresso

  3. jonfrederickapp says:

    Reblogged this on Jon Frederic Kapp & Associates.

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