I am often amazed at the accomplishments and the amazing products that students produce to demonstrate their learning. Our students are truly talented (in large part through the efforts of their teachers to provide incredible learning opportunities). We know that one of the most important parts of the learning process is reflection. With this in mind, I teamed up with fellow COETAIL-er Mavis Wellington to try to create a space where students could show how they learn inside and outside of the classroom and reflect on that learning. In addition, we thought this would be a great storehouse of artifacts that could be used by students when completing college and university applications. Our vision was to create an ePortfolio that could be piloted with our 9th graders but our school administration liked it so much we expanded it to the 10th and 11th grades.
We began this process as soon as we were introduced to the assignment in the last semester. We decided to use a Design Thinking model to plan out the look and the feel of the ePortfolio. We created a focus group of students, teachers, counselors and administrators. Beginning with initial interviews we tried to find out what all of our stakeholders wanted and needed in an ePortfolio and then we created a prototype which we presented to our focus group for feedback. It was back to the drawing board to make improvements, gather feedback, improve until we had it right.
The ePortfolio rolled out after our winter break. We presented to the 10th and 11th graders in grade level assemblies to show them how to set up the site and to give them an idea of the kinds of evidence that needed to be added. We also followed up by having an assembly where they completed their first post. We worked with our 9th-grade students in their counseling classes to get them set up and rolling with the project. They also completed their first posts during these sessions. As part of our plan, we will meet with the grade 9’s in their counseling class at regular intervals.
We hope that the ePortfolio will be an important facet of the process for student learning in our school. We will continue to support students and teachers by frequently checking in to make sure that our stakeholders understand how the ePortfolio can best be used to demonstrate the strengths, accomplishments, and talents of each individual student. Students will share their ePortfolios with parents on You, Me, Community Day in a student-led conference. We already have plans for how we will continue with the ePortfolio next year and beyond. Our project has been adopted by our school administration as an important initiative that will be part of the fabric of our high school in the coming years.