Hot on the heels of Dr Helen Barrett’s session on  ePortfolios, I was extremely fortunate to head off to the ASB’s Grade 3 Team and their presentation “Moving Towards the Centre – Grade 3’s journey into the world of ePortfolios”  This team and their gorgeous students use google sites as their platform for ePortfolios.  They have been working with Dr Helen Barrett on their learning journey.
The Team:  Scott Hoffman (Teacher) Erica Barclay, Nitasha Chaudhuri.
Below are my notes from their presentation, as I blogged it “live” whilst this session was presented.
(Note: my notes are in italics – not bold but bracketed)

Be constructivists – and hand that over to the kids

When you learn something together, one undervalued thing is the relationships you create.
Co-conspirators – benefit of constructivism

Showed movie about the students’ thoughts

(this was very cute – Their thoughts/words below)
Saved, Organised
You can put a lot of things on it for infinity
Better than binders – use anytime you like (binders only use at school)
Keeps track of what we do
You can share it with people from other sides of the world – you can show it to the people you really want to share it with – Everyone will know that you are talented.  (I love that!)
When you move – you don’t have to start all over again.
Learn more about tech
It’s more about yourself
Helps you learn to be better organised
Helps us learn
Paper’s not fun – video is way better
You can put all this stuff on it
I emailed it to myself and showed my mum
Tells a story about me
Shows people who I am
It will be so much fun to see how much better I’ve become
Reflect on my goals
Share my portfolio pretty often

What do you need to know before you start?

Knowing what we’re after –  wanted this to circle around itself.
Self-assessors, students who own & initiate their learning, metacognitvie thinkers.
Making goals with the end in mind, reflecting on those goals.
Ask what they are curious about – project based from there – reflect on that.
Students are now asking “Can I put this in my portfolio?”

Things we had in place BEFORE

1:1 environment (and IT staff it rode in on) would have been harder with tucked in slots – ease of access,
Scott’s enthusiasm (pivotal for motivation)
Developing a starting understanding of Google sites (for us it would be blogs)
(Swine flu – was catalyst for distance learning – forced the school to shut and run for 1 week)
Access to an expert (Dr Helen Barrett)
Given ideas, nudged,
Keyboarding proficiency (all across G3 worked on a typing programme – hugely helped what they do now with their eportfolio)
Focus on telling learning stories
Read: The Power of Portfolios by Elizabeth Herbert (mentioned this morning by Helen)

Preparing to Launch

Digital citizenship guidelines (be safe online) Grade 3-5 – posted in the Ning
(wanted to stick to same rules)
Usual stuff for publishing online – parents sign when they join the school – stuck to these with ePortfolios so that they can be online too
Google sites can be password protected –
Permissions
Meaning Audience
Wanted portability,  if student moves – can it move with them
Commenting – not quite available – may be coming
Building the sites
Creating a template: Shared this template across the grades
Announcement pages,(posts like a blog)
Academic pages,
Personal pages, (this is me page, their space – like a personal learning wall, images, quotes etc – personal stuff)
Sparing the specialists, (as it was pilot year)
Just right settings (we as teachers are the owners, children are collaborators so they don’t have the right to delete the site – teachers can arrange for them to take the site with them)

Hurdles

Connectivity issues
Uploading
Unable to Save
Only one scanner  (discovered – not enough) set up scanner stations by putting the 3 grade 3 scanners together.
Willing to take a risk, and go with it, experiment
Supportive environment – only pressure came from themselves.
Teach one or two – then they teach – power of teaching goes to students
Spreads like a virus – becomes less about the tech – focus goes back to the ePortfolio – takes a while to build that

Big Findings

ePortfolios are a live part of our classroom
Engagement
Critical evaluation (ownership)
Everyday use easier than anticipated (after initial hurdles)
Point of reference – already thinking when they start their work – “I want to put this in my portfolio”
Next years teachers will just have to open the computers – and let it happen.
(Had a conversation with the Grade 4 team yet?  Not really sure if they have done this?  Have to wonder about that? This question was then asked in the Q & A – Really only enjoying the fact that they can experiment with something – not that far down the track. Not sure if they have really thought this through? – Am thinking that it’s odd that no conversations have been had with the next grade up. Wondering how students will feel if they don’t get a chance in class to keep their portfolio going – why invest any effort at any level? )

Q & A’s from the audience

How much time do you spend on the ePortfolios – average per day?

Spend most of the day on the computer (student’s words)
Sometimes spend 2 hours on the portfolio.
Not structured with the class – if they want to put something on the ePortfolio they are allowed to.
Part of the reading workshop now- lines are starting to blur

How important is it to be 1:1 to do this?

Easy access makes a difference.

What can’t you do with your computer that you’d like to do in the classroom?

(Student answers)
I’d like to be able to add more stuff in the future (a schedule that I can keep track of)
Free time all the time

What would you differently – if you can do this again?

(Teacher answers)
Announcement pages from the start
Looking forward – more reflection – setting goals and reflecting on them
Having an Audience – need to have a way for comments – students need to have that feedback.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a most informative session.  I was lucky enough to be sitting at a table with parents of one of the children in the presentation (and I got a peak at her ePortfolio too as she showed it to her Mum & Dad).  The parents were very pleased with the ePortfolio setup, it’s access from home, and the difference they felt it made to their daughter’s confidence.

“She puts a lot of effort into her ePortfolio and is very proud of it.”