Sunday, October 13, 2013

How can you use ePortfolios for both formative and summative assessment?

There are a number of ways to use ePortfolios as both formative and summative assessments.  Formative assessments can be used throughout a unit of study to serve as check-ins for student understanding.  Students will be able to reflect on their learning process as they work towards a goal.  Through formative assessments, not only will students will be able to self-assess, but teachers are able to keep track of each student’s progress to ensure that they are on track to meet their goals.  Using ePortfolios allows students, teachers, parents, and administrators to see the growth of the student throughout the life of the portfolio. These reflections and feedback allow the teacher to understand the student’s needs, and help to improve their comprehension of the material by adjusting their teaching.  Formative assessments can be informal and as simple as a blog post answering a question, prompt, or explaining the process of solving a math problem.  The reflections should display what the student has learned.

Summative assessments can be done at the end of a particular unit.  The ePortfolio itself is a summative assessment, and it tracks a student’s progress overtime.  At the end of a unit, students can present their material and reflect on the knowledge they have gained over time. Also, the student can reflect on their progress towards meeting their own academic goals. Both teachers and students can grow throughout the process of using ePortfolios as summative and formative assessment.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Keeping us on the same page...

The next post, which delves into the variety of options available as repositories for ePorts, is Rebecca's. In the spirit of communication I want to make sure the team knows what we, individually, are experimenting with so she can take a look at where we are headed as a school.

Currently, several MS teachers are using Edmodo for online journaling and assignments. 
I am testing Educlipper with my Digital Class, and will be adding a test with so the students can compare and provide feedback. I may drop Educlipper and try Google Sites instead. Educlipper has a few bugs in its software, and is not as intuitive as I'd like for it to be.

Joanne is considering Portfolio Communities and Folio as well.

Amy Shapiro (Mechina) is using Edublogs (as are several MS teachers.) Thanks to Stacy for passing along that link.

Hope this information is helpful!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lesson 3

From Joanne:

After exploring the different types of online tools, both to store and organize digital artifacts and to display them in an specific portfolio, I have many new ideas about implementing these in our school as a whole, and in my classroom. First of all, I would love to eventually see students archive all of their files in one consolidated place. Using a tool like Google Docs at the Davis Academy would be extremely beneficial for the students to have all of their work and digital projects online to use as resources for the future. It keeps everything in one place, and it is so easy to send, share, and edit progress with anyone else. It also teaches the students important organizational skills, and the technology skills needed to use a tool such as this. Collecting their data will also allow them a great variety of materials to use in a digital portfolio.
I am going to try out one of the digital portfolios for my class trimester. The theme for the larger unit is “Journeys through Genesis” and I will have a project-based assessment after learning about each character’s journey. As each project will use a different type of media, and a digital portfolio will be a great way to display the final production. It will archive their collection of work and allow the students to become comfortable organizing their digital work with a new tool.  After exploring the ePortfolios in this lesson, I will try with my class. It seems user friendly and like the best way to display development and the final product, while giving space for reflection in the journal section. I look forward to experimenting with this tool with the students as they start to build their digital profiles. I hope that after exploring this tool with this class, I will be prepared to help expand a tool such as this to the greater Davis experience.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lesson 4 - How/Reflection

Note: Joanne's post for Lesson 3 is being revised. She is unable to post on the blog, so will be sending it to me and I will post it. That will make the Lesson 4 post appear to have been completed prior to Lesson 3, but that's not the case.

     Interestingly, the issue of chronology is one we will need to examine more closely as a school, depending on what it is we are expecting the ePortfolios to document. This week's readings/videos and supplemental materials cover a huge array of issues ranging from the necessity of an entire school adopting the reflective approach (from student to HOS) to selecting age-appropriate tools for assessment. Parsing through the plethora of resources to find what fits our situation reflects the microcosm of the web in general. Wading through all that is available is a complex and time consuming effort, albeit a necessary one. In order for us as a team to best design an effective implementation, we need to slow down and do our own reflecting.
      Over the past several years, the overarching culture of the school seems to have been in transition. As subject area teams re-evaluate curriculum content and delivery methods, the administrative team is directing the "ship" to navigate new waters that are project based, student centered, and technologically advanced. Pappas' Taxonomy of Reflection reminds that each of us, at all levels, must be engaged in the reflective process for the effectiveness of meta-cognition to guide us. We must be constantly stepping back to evaluate and assess whether what WE'RE doing is providing effective learning experiences and opportunities. Dr. Arthur Ellis, in his outstanding lecture on reflective learning, reminds us that modeling the behavior is more critical than implementation in the classroom. Ellis provides excellent strategies for teachers to begin transitioning from grade-based assessments to opportunities for regular engagement with meta-cognition. Perhaps the most valuable "side-effect" of reflection is setting up opportunities for low-achievers to become self-motivated high-achievers. The psychological make-up of our students is much too complex to simply categorize them into Dweck's "Mindsets" and hope to change their outlook. Parental pressures for higher education based on test results and grades, developmental differences, anxiety levels all impact a student's ability to have a growth mindset. Reflective strategies, however, enable us to get a foothold, especially in the middle grade years when the expectations for success become significantly more stringent.
     To direct our implementation, we might wish to consider a slightly different model of the feedback cycle. While the "Feed up/Feed back/Feed Forward" provides the teacher with a means of evaluating the effectiveness of the required curriculum and delivery, it is more prudent to consider a two-tiered reflection cycle from the student's point of view. Students continue to learn new content before existing information might be mastered. Understanding occurs at multiple times throughout the chronologically based sequence. In fact, a student of mine recently remarked that an "Aha!" moment occurred for her three months after the completion of a unit of content. Such a delay is perfectly acceptable, and reflects the brain growth and development of that particular child. As such, our reflective opportunities cannot be limited to regularly scheduled interludes. It is the act of reflecting that we want to develop, not the timing, although for some teachers carefully structured reflection will be a necessity for both comfort in the "new" and creation of a new style/habit of instruction. Please see Micro/Macro.(Click to follow link which opens in a new window.)
      Dr. Ellis also clarifies that reflection is possible at any age level. The differences will lie merely in the method of information-gathering. Documentation of the reflective process should be sampled in both video/audio and written (blog)/form formats, especially as students develop greater skills for written expression. These reflective pieces will help students determine how they best process information, identify their inherent strengths and weaknesses, and set personal goals. Teachers and administrators must also engage in timely self-reflection, accessible to the students so they can mirror by example until the process becomes clear to them. I believe that for us, the Blackstone Valley Portfolio Handbook is TOO structured. As indicated on our Team Planning Document, grade levels will need to provide input into the appropriate artifacts and level of reflection. Portfolio Reflection by Artifact is an outstanding source for  fifth grade through middle school as it enables the student to see the culmination of knowledge acquisition rendered visible through a subject-area project.  The six opportunities for reflection provided by Ellis should be utilized in some form by all teachers on a regular basis. Critical, as Ellis points out, is the feedback loop the teacher must provide. These strategies provide a form of scaffolding on the content (micro) level, while the on-line ePortfolio itself will provide reflection on the macro level. Again, this concept mirrors the idea that multiple levels of reflective cycle happen simultaneously.
      As a few of our teachers are already experimenting with ePortfolios on different grade levels, we have a "casual" implementation that will allow us to review at the end of the school year what worked individually so we can craft a school-wide implementation for 2014-2015. Reflection is absolutely critical both for us at the macro level, and for the students so they can see the benefits of life-long curiosity and love of learning.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why Create an E-Portfolio?

There are so many benefits to creating an e-portfolio.  E-portfolios give students a larger sense of purpose for their work.  There are many students who find so much more meaning in sharing their work with an audience beyond that of their teacher.  Students want recognition, reaffirmation, engagement, and especially to feel as though they have been "heard".  E-portfolios provide a platform for each of these and more.  As a result, e-portfolios generate a stronger feeling of ownership on the part of the student and in turn, encourage a greater acceptance of responsibility for one's work.  Knowing that their creations have the ability to be shared on a global level, can give students a stronger focus and a deeper feeling of purpose, both of which help validate the students efforts.  E-portfolios also encourage students to reflect on the digital footprint that they want to leave and therefore, become more thoughtful about their work.  Through this process of reflection, students can start to collect or curate that work for which they are most proud to showcase and receive feedback and engage in dicussions with a wider audience.  E-portfolios can expand a students' perspective on the world and therefore, generate a greater sense of empathy for and understanding of the world around them.

Balancing the purpose and the product of the e-portfolio is to recognize that the e-portfolio can have a different purpose for different audiences, as indicated in Dr. Barrett's slides on Balancing the Two Faces of E-Portfolio.  Again, as she states in her slides, as a process, they can be organized chronologically, with learning as the primary focus, and the reflection process is immediate.  As a product, the e-portfolio can be organized by theme, and the main purpose is as an assessment tool for accountability, and the reflection process is retrospective.   Having watched Dr. Barrett's slide show and having read the New Zealand Ministry of Educations Guidelines to Digital Portfolios for Beginners, I understand that thinking through the organization of e-portfolios during the planning process and throughout the creation process is key to balancing the purpose and the product.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reflections on Lesson One

In lesson one, I reviewed what can be considered an ePortfolio.  I suppose what is most interesting is that there is significant control over what can be considered an ePortfolio and what tools to use to create the portfolio.  With a paper portfolio, work is shared through one medium (paper) but with an ePortfolio, the tools vary significantly and can consist of video, photos, writing samples, graphics and other creative outlets.  I also think that ePortfolios allow for more collaboration than paper and it is easier to create a shared portfolio with a class or a group of people.  With paper portfolios, this is more challenging. 

In my classes this past year, we created a wiki that documented our larger projects that we worked on throughout the quarter.  Under the definitions of an ePortfolio that we explored in the readings and videos, this wiki would suffice as an ePortfolio, although it was not created by just one individual.  However, it was a tool used for documenting and sharing our work.  We did not have the comments section enabled but had we done this, it would have also been a way for our larger audience to provide feedback on our work.

The assessment activities caused me to reflect on how realistic of an approach we can take to implementing ePortfolios and more specifically, on what scale do we want to create these on.  In some ways, the assessments raise more questions, such as, at what age do we begin an ePortfolio, are they maintained from year to year using the same tools, what type of teacher/student training is involved, and does the technology support the long term implementation of an ePortfolio?  I enjoyed reviewing some of the example ePortfolios that students had created in 2009 and continued to maintain throughout the years.  I noticed that these were very small schools in which students had some of the teachers for more than one year.  I also wondered what happens when the original creation tools become obsolete or better tools are invented and become more appealing.  How does one manage the work that this can generate?

In summary, I think that the creation of ePortfolios can be limited so as not to overwhelm or they can be a daunting project if not carefully considered from all angles. I also believe that they can be a rewarding way to engage both students and teachers in an academic setting.  EPortfolios reinforce the notion of continuous learning and growth while tracking that process in a multi-dimensional format.