Containing the chaos…isn’t that what we all want to do? I love this painting by Michael Lang because it is such a great visual of what this last year has felt like! Wait, that sounds very negative; however, it is so true. There is so much that we needed to reign in. So when I considering ISTE Standard 7 for educators – entitled Analysist – and especially 7a which focuses on educators providing “alternative ways for students to demonstrated competency and reflect on their learning using technology,” I realize that this standard affords me a great avenue to allow not only my students but me a way to see how technology can streamline all the data we are presented throughout the year. When I look back at this year, I think of all the ways I could have helped my students retain and maintain a handle on all the virtual handouts, short stories, assignments, writing reflections, etc. and I know that I have fallen short. While it is difficult to find an organizational system for high school students to use when they are given everything in hard copy, keeping track of everything that comes across their screen virtually must be exponentially harder. Because of this, I am going to try, once again, for the 2021-2022 school year to use an ePortfolio system that will help students keep track of not only their work, but my feedback, and what they are “handed” in class.
There are many platforms that offer ePortfolios for students which look really promising but I will focus on Microsoft OneNote as our district provides Office 365 to its staff and students. I appreciate Yang’s 2015 article, “The role of e-portfolios in supporting productive learning” because she perfectly encapsulates the desire that I have in using portfolios for student writing. The beginning of her abstract states, “e‐Portfolios are a form of authentic assessment with formative functions that include showcasing and sharing learning artifacts, documenting reflective learning processes, connecting learning across various stages and enabling frequent feedback for improvements” (Yang et al.). What is most significant is the word “authentic.” For teenagers, it is too easy for them to look at the shiny new tech as gimmicks and using them to produce something feels like busywork. Beginning the year with a strong understanding of the portfolio’s purpose will help curtail the negativity and hopefully, with time, create a sense of relevance for the students as well.
From Davis’ 2017 blog, “11 Essentials for Excellent Digital Portfolios” she reminds the reader that the educator and student need to know the purpose before undertaking anything. The purpose for my students’ portfolios will be a constructivist approach – for learning (Barrett, 2005). Also, because I will use the portfolio throughout the year, formative assessment will be involved; yet, including student self- reflection and assessment creates student ownership of this process (Davis). It is exciting to visualize students’ buy-in of this type of learning because it allows for more freedom on the part of both the educator and student. If I have learned anything over the past fourteen months of distance and concurrent learning, it is that student choice is imperative for engagement.
Creating a space for expression, while also meeting standards, is my goal. I love reading students’ comments in their reflections that mention that they didn’t think they would have fun writing, but because they had a choice who to write about or how to express their understanding, they enjoyed the process. In Herman’s and Winters’ 1994 article, “Portfolio Research: A Slim Collection,” they too see the benefit of choice when they state, “Well-designed portfolios represent important, contextualized learning that requires complex thinking and expressive skills” (Educational Leadership, 1994, pp. 48-55).
In my limited research this week, I did not find many voices that were against using portfolios as a tool for student learning. Most articles and websites were very precise about what is necessary to create successful products, how students have access to their work at any time for re-submissions, self-reflection, learning, and communication with their instructors. My one concern will be the students who usually do not turn in work on time; how do I know when late work is submitted without re-checking each section of the portfolio or expecting an email from the student? This summer I will do more research on how to maintain my creativity and sanity while implementing this useful tool for my students.
Davis, Vicki. “11 Essentials for Excellent Digital Portfolios.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 17 Nov. 2017, www.edutopia.org/blog/11-essentials-for-excellent-eportfolios-vicki-davis.
Herman, Joan L., and Winters, Lynn. “Portfolio Research: A Slim Collection.” Educational Leadership, vol 52, no. 2, 1994, pp. 48-55., IISN: ISSN-0013-1784.
Hertz, Mary B. “Tools for Creating Digital Student Portfolios.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 6 Jan. 2020, http://www.edutopia.org/article/tools-creating-digital-student-portfolios.
Yang, Min, et al. “The Role of e-Portfolios in Supporting Productive Learning.” British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 47, no. 6, 2015, pp. 1276–1286., doi:10.1111/bjet.12316.