“Mrs. Cassidy, I showed my blog to my parents last night. I showed them everything on my blog. I showed them all the things on the computer!”
That was my morning greeting from one of my six-year-old students not long ago. He had received a surplus computer1 from my school division the day before, and had suddenly been able to show his parents all of the learning artifacts he’d been adding to his digital portfolio through the course of the school year.
My students all love to put their learning online. They love that they have an audience and even more, they love to get comments about their work.
What Do the Portfolios Look Like?
The content of these portfolios changes from year to year, and varies somewhat from student to student. At the beginning of the school year, most of our blogging is only text, as the students become accustomed to their new tool.
Gradually, we begin to add drawings and use other media to show our learning, such as video, Audioboo(for voice recordings or podcasts) and Storybird (to make embeddable storybooks). We have also used tools such as Animationish and the ScreenChomp app for the iPad. We have taken pictures of posters orother things they have made, or posted combinations of these if we feel that using only one tool is not adequate to show what we can do.
How to Choose What Goes In
Sometimes, especially if a tool is new, we will all show our learning in the same way or at least using the same tool. Other times, such as at the end of each unit of inquiry, I let the students choose their own tool to show their learning. Even if we are using the same tool, I try to ensure that there is some element of choice for the students, such as the topics they write about, or what drawing tool they use. Seldom is it entirely prescribed. I have never had my students NOT want to post something on their blog.
Some Portfolio Examples
Since the parents are all able to access the content of the portfolios from home, there are no big surprises at our student led-conferences. Just kids showing their learning and talking about their new goals. Their journey to meet those new goals will also be documented step by step on their digital portfolio.