Friday, November 18, 2011

English 9 and Visual Arts ... ePortfolio mix!

English 9 teachers, Geoff and Alissa, have been brave to start personal ePortfolio sites for their students! And so has been Jennifer C. for different Visual Arts classes. As we are together on the ePortfolio PLC, that has become a real trial of what it means to take the steps towards student portfolios. And there are many steps to that!

The first step was to help students explore Google Sites templates and themes and make a choice of their own design. As they add personal touches to the site, it becomes their personal learning space/showcase reflecting their style as learners.

The second step was getting specific pages created that serve their subjects well. Geoff and Alissa have the same pages for writing, reading, speaking, with product and process split up for those, and they are exploring slightly different structures for the writing process pages. Jennifer C. and I discussed web page structure at some length until a good option was found. This process in itself has been a learning experience showing how such type of conversations will be part of department discussions to come to a collective agreement that will benefit students. At the same time, departments will see themselves as part of a graded community eportfolio structure. So grade 9 students who have visual arts classes had the full experience of having not only writing and reading pages on their portfolio, but also visual arts pages. For the students, their eportfolio became an umbrella for all the work they may do at Graded.

The third step was to start getting student work on their digital portfolios. This is on an initial stage but it is a joy to see students engaged in the process and some starting to have some insights. Jennifer reported how one Visual Arts student was surprised to see the image of her work, as in "how good it is"! That for me shows the power of displaying work and being able to appreciate it, as a step towards deeper reflection. An example of that is how a couple of students in English and Visual Arts started writing a reflection spontaneously. 

When asked about the process of creating the Digital Portfolio, students said it was "fun", a "good idea to get organized" (I would not have thought about it myself). As we move forward with this process, it will be interesting to explore students' awareness of the learning displayed on their portfolio sites. Good job everyone!

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