Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Digital Student Portfolios - Ch. 1 Reflection

As part of my summer professional development, I am joining Matt Renwick of Reading by Example along with many others in a month-long book club study of his Digital Student Portfolios ebook. (Read his overview intro post here.) We will be sharing and discussing the book as part of a Google+ Community. I hope you'll join us!

Digital Student Portfolios, Chapter 1

Chapter 1 details the "Purposes for Portfolios." I liked the concept of the portfolio as the answer to those who would choose to rely on a standardized test score to "judge" a student. Portfolios can bridge the gap towards celebrating student achievement in many areas and across a wide span of time.

In the discussion of "Education 3.0," I found the infographic about the concentric circles helpful to visualize the differences: 1,0 being access to the Internet and content, 2.0 being creation of that content for a purpose, and 3.0 being the relational and collaborative piece as audiences develop around your created content. I appreciated this quote,

Without an audience, the meaning of their work in school is diminished.

I am sure there are many bloggers out there who would loudly disagree or claim that they create their content solely for their own learning or edification, but how many of those same people thrill at the sight of each new comment or social media ping? We all love an audience.

The five steps for implementation were a helpful way of thinking about how to start any technology process, and I appreciated the emphasis on how change actual works and the importance of training and support. As a classroom teacher looking to effect change just in my own classroom to start, it does simplify the matter of planning quite a bit.

Chapter 1 Personal Reflection

While the above constitutes my notes and thoughts about the chapter, I also wanted to include a section of personal reflection and application. I thought I would use the categories from the included PDF, Technology Benchmarks of Quality, as a guide to my reflection.


I am fortunate that I have a full class set of (admittedly ancient) Mac Book computers in my classroom. They might be on their last legs this year, but I am hopeful they will still hold up for word processing, Kid Blog, and potential portfolio creation.

Purpose and Audience

This past year I debuted Kid Blog with my third graders (read We are Bloggers for more details), as part of our connections through the Global Read Aloud. We were able to connect with a few other schools in Spain, India, Canada, and Australia. My main goal was to give my students an authentic audience (each other, other students, and their parents) and to encourage cross-cultural conversations and exchange.

(I will admit that I had hoped for a higher level of self-assessment and improvement, as typos continued to abound as students seemed more excited to share their thoughts than to proof-read them, despite their ready willingness to nitpick the proofreading of others.)

Overall, I would like to add more authentic opportunities for cross-cultural activities with our partner schools. Our posting was not frequent enough to build any firm foundations, and I think it will also help make it more meaningful if students were engaging in interactions in smaller groups rather than as a whole class to a whole class.

Portfolios and Self-Assessment

In previous years, I have had students complete paper self-assessments at the end of major units and projects. These assessments asked students to reflect on the quality of their work and contributions and were sent home to parents accompanied by my feedback in the form of a rubric and written comments.

Finished pieces of student writing were saved in a file folder portfolio, and these were turned into finished, published "books" at the end of the school year. Students used these portfolios to write a final writing reflection and to choose their favorite piece of writing from the year for inclusion in a school-wide literary magazine.

Students also set and self-assessed quarterly reading goals. These goals were written in their reading folders each quarter but often not referred back to. (I think seeing their goals at the end of the quarter often came as a surprise to many students who had forgotten them by then!) I am really anxious to learn, as we get into the application sections of the book, how digital portfolios can help with student goal-setting, self-reflection, and self-assessment.

What have you learned about digital student portfolios? What do you still wonder?


  1. I'm an art teacher and I want to use Google Classroom for my students to post their artwork in process for reflection/conversation with peers and with me as well a posting and reflecting when work is complete. I have no idea where to begin!!! We have some PD for Google classroom next week. I'm sure hoping I can figure it all out this summer so I can implement next fall.

    1. Beth, I LOVED using Google Classroom this year. I actually wrote a series of posts about how to use it, set up your classes, etc here: http://www.thelogonauts.com/search/label/Google%20Classroom.

  2. If you have any suggestions where to begin I'm all ears!


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