When Morgan O’Connor and I first introduced the yearlong e-portfolio assignment to her three Global Studies classes, students were less than thrilled. For one, they tend to not like work. For two, most of them have never experienced a project that is an entire year long. One that Just. Won’t. Go. Away.
By the semester’s end, we witnessed a transformation. When they met in small groups to give each other feedback—conversations that were part of their final exam grade for the class—many of them indicated that their opinions about the e-portfolio project had changed over the course of the semester. One student even said something along the lines of, “Now, even when I’m working on something for another class, I think about the skills I’m using and where it might fit in my e-portfolio.” I heard it with my very own ears!
Here’s how the assignment works:
- Students use Weebly to create websites to house their e-portfolios.
- They build a webpage for each transfer skill.
- On each of those pages they need to show and explain how they used that particular skill in class. They do this by uploading completed Global Studies assignments and then writing paragraph reflections explaining the assignment, how it helped them practice the skill, what they still need to work on, and how they plan to do that.
Morgan and I have been transparent with her students, telling them that this is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this as teachers, too. We encourage them to offer us constructive feedback about their experience working on their portfolios and how we can make it a more valuable activity for them. For example, at students’ suggestion, we are allowing them to upload four assignments from other classes in the spring semester. We look forward to seeing their metacognition through their work outside of Global Studies. We plan to share more about this part of the project with teachers soon in a staff email, so keep your eyes open.
Throughout all of this, we also emphasize the importance of technology literacy and digital citizenship to the students. At the end of the year, we plan to organize a symposium in which students present their portfolios to an audience that includes people other than their classmates, Morgan, and myself.
We aren’t the only ones experimenting with e-portfolios. CTE teacher Jenny Harrington has required her LRM students to build them for the past few years using Google Sites. In fact, Morgan and I started our journey by observing Jenny’s class to see how she teaches her students to use the technology and how she explains why e-portfolios are useful. Since then, we’ve shared ideas and handouts with each other.
Maybe you’re interested in trying e-portfolios out with your students? Or, maybe you’re using e-portfolios in your class and have ideas to share? Or maybe you’re interested in helping Morgan and I build this idea into something bigger? Use your oral or written communication skills to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a time to collaborate. (See what I did there?)