Welcome to my blog! Through the next series of posts, I will be participating in an inquiry project for my LIBE 477 course, part of the Teacher-Librarianship Diploma at UBC.
My current position is a K-4 teacher at a public distributed learning (DL) school. This job entails supporting families with learning resources, providing assessment and suggestions, running a classroom space where children drop in for literacy and numeracy groups, and planning field trips and other learning experiences. I love getting out to meet both my students and their parents – it has been a particularly joyful experience to watch the families grow and come together in the quest for learning.
I started this exploration with a reflection about the needs of my current students. What part of our work together would be more effective, more engaging, or more enriching through the use technology? Three ideas immediately came to mind:
1. Digital Portfolios:
My students (and their parents) meet with me regularly to share their learning. Generally, this is done in person – they bring work samples, projects, and photographs and tell me about what they have been learning. However, I also have a fair number of families that live out of town or travel a lot, so they cannot meet with me in person very often. We meet over Skype, but it just isn’t the same. I would love to explore the use of digital portfolios. This would provide students with a digital space to collect work samples and show what they have learned, no matter where they are located. It would also be a great way for families to share their learning with each other, and to watch their own progress over time.
2. Digital Learning Platforms
Most of the curriculum I use with my students is paper-based, with the addition of online subscriptions such as Raz Reading and Prodigy Math. I (and most of the parents) like that the majority of our primary curriculum is paper based. However, I also wonder if there are other learning platforms we can add to the curriculum to make it more engaging and/or provide more learning opportunities.
3. Digital Networks and Community Building
Unlike in a classroom, many of my students don’t get together very often. They love field trips because they can build friendships, and the parents have the opportunity to chat and swap ideas. It made me wonder about forming an online community where students and parents can come together to share their learning experiences, get to know each other, and swap ideas and resources.
I’ve chosen to explore the digital portfolios in more depth for this inquiry. Not only do I think this is the most pressing issue, but it also covers some aspects of the other two ideas. Digital portfolios are a way for students to share learning, but the creation of a portfolio is also a learning experience. Through the sharing of their portfolios, students are also given the opportunity to interact with each other and build that sense of community. Finally, digital portfolios will provide families with more timely feedback and reduce my workload, giving me more time to focus on other aspects of my job.
The content my students will post on their digital portfolios will inherently link to every curriculum area, particularly through the development of skills, understanding of big ideas, and demonstration of content knowledge. However, the act of creating the portfolio itself will also demonstrate learning – particularly the communication aspects ELA, ADST, and the core competencies. As such, it’s important for me to consider both the content and the process.
Other considerations include:
- The portfolio platform needs to be easy to use because most of the portfolio development will be done at home, without direct teacher interaction or guidance (though I will, of course, train them and help whenever needed). Many of my students are also quite young and I want them to be able to work with their parents to create their portfolio rather than just watch.
- This needs to be engaging for students so they willingly and regularly participate. Engagement could be through pride of themselves and the work they are sharing, building a sense of community, or simply choosing a platform that is fun to use.
- Families need clear direction about what to post and how to show learning because many of them have no school experience to draw from.
- A platform that is lightweight and/or also has an app for mobile devices is preferred because some families will be completing/sharing the portfolio while travelling or in areas with potentially weak internet connections.
- The platform chosen needs to be FIPPA compliant and I need to consider the privacy issues of having students post their work online.
In order to gain an understanding of how digital portfolios can be used in my classroom, I need to find answers to the following questions:
- What are the benefits of using digital portfolios to display student work?
- How are digital portfolios used to show/reflect student learning in primary grades?
- What criteria or directions would help students choose which work samples to include?
- How are digital portfolios evaluated for and as learning? I’m thinking specifically about rubrics and self-assessments.
- Which platform would be best for this application? I may need to do an evaluation and critique of potential platforms.
This list of keywords, topics, and ideas will guide my literature searches:
Finally, I compiled a list of possible resources to get me started with this inquiry:
- Literature: UBC Library, LIBE 477 course bibliography, educator websites and blogs, JenMo Assessment Facebook page (portfolio rubrics and examples).
- People: The other teacher and LART I work with, the district MyEdBC specialists (who also teach classes how to set up digital portfolios), teachers from district schools who use digital portfolios, my network of DL teachers from other schools, classmates.
- Platforms: MyEdBC, Moodle, Google Sites, Google Classroom, ClassDojo, FreshGrade.
1 thought on “Reading Review Part A”
Excellent brainstorming post! You’ve done a great job outlining your current role, context and needs and described and discussed the challenges and opportunities moving forward. Your choice to explore digital portfolios is practical and innovative at the same time and your awareness of pitfalls, concerns and desires is well informed. You’ve started thinking about potential avenues for research and to help find guides, mentors and examples. Overall, a very strong start.
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