Saturday, August 24, 2013

e-Portfolios at AdVENTURE

I have been looking for a way for my students to understand what exactly it is to become a life-long learner.
How do I get students to "get" that the work we do can be so much more than just another assignment? That their effort goes beyond the classroom and can have an impact on their future lives.

As all students do, the learners that come into my classroom complete assignments, discuss their work and show what they have accomplished to myself and the class. Whenever possible we post things on the walls, on our website, and even create collections using QR codes. However, as we move towards a more paperless classroom, and with the availability of most of our work in digital formats, and often in the cloud, I am moving towards having our students create digital portfolios that they can continue to use beyond our four walls, to showcase what they have accomplished, not only to me and to the class, but to their parents, future teachers, and if they choose to the world.

How exciting it would be to have a collection of artifacts that they can use to demonstrate their growth. How incredible to have available work that they did in middle-school as a basis for their Master's thesis!

What is the purpose of the digital portfolio?

To demonstrate the student's achievement of the knowledge and skills they acquire throughout AdVENTURE. The e-Portfolio will show the growth and improvement of the student in all curricular areas, as they read, discuss and respond to the learning opportunities presented to them, becoming a thoughtfully arranged collection of multi-media-rich documents that the students compose, own, maintain and archive on the internet.

What are the components of the digital portfolio?
Tier 1: Portfolio as storage: 
As students respond to an assignment, they create digital artifacts using several tools such as Google docs, Glogster, Pixton, etc. These artifacts are organized and stored in the cloud. 

Tier 2: Portfolio as workspace:
Students use Blogger to capture background information on an assignment, and respond to prompts. Students use close reading strategies and collaborate in Diigo to annotate web-based articles and hyperlink their work to their blog in preparation for Tier 3.

Tier 3: Portfolio as reflective journal:
Students use Blogger to reflect on their learning as represented in the samples of their work. Students answer to prompts that require meta-cognitive abilities.

Tier 4: Portfolios as showcase:
Students organize a presentation portfolio around a set of learning outcomes, goals or standards, hyper-linking to the supporting documents. Students think back over the learning represented in the specific artifacts selected as evidence of learning, and present their rationale for why they believe these artifacts are clear evidence or their achievement of learning.

In addition to answering the "What?" and "So What?" questions, students address the "Now What?" question to include future learning goals in their presentation portfolios.

How will the portfolios be assessed?

Through all the different tiers of portfolio development, students will be given the option to update the work, based on the feedback and the rubric. The power of peer review comes into play, as students comment on and provide feedback. Parents and mentors can also become participants in the development of the student portfolio, providing opportunities to connect with student's opinions and ideas, and share intellectual curiosity.

Examples please!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Diigo in Close Reading

The Common Core Reading Benchmarks call for an increase in the lexile difficulty of student text, as well as an increase in the reading of informational text at all grade levels. This has led to many PDs on close reading strategies, and for me, some anxiety in the whole highlighter, coding, copying of materials.
"Is yellow used for main ideas, do we circle AND highlight?"
"What if I do not have the right colors or codification scheme?"
"All this coding needs to work for me if I am to be able to teach it to my students!"
As I sat pondering the answers to these questions, and at the same time refusing to run over to the copy machine to once again create hundreds of copies of papers that will then end up at the bottom of a backpack, crumpled up, before finally making their way to the recycle bin, I remembered another PD from several years ago about Diigo. As I vaguely remembered the tools, you could bookmark, highlight and add comments, so I figured, what about using that with the students? So I went on over, and came up with this structure for my students:

1. Yellow highlight - New words or confusing phrases (add a sticky note that defines the word or clarifies the phrase)
2. Blue highlight: Phrases the lead you to ask questions (add a sticky note that states the question - so that it can be posed during our class discussion)
3. Green highlight: Main idea
4. Pink highlight: Phrases that provide evidence or examples (add a sticky note that explains how this is an example or how the author provided evidence)
5. Sticky note(s) that provide your response to the article.

Using this scheme, I made a little exercise for myself: Diigo 

and it did work :) After some stumbles, I was able to annotate and then re-open the annotated page. I will need some more practice, but I was pleased with the ease with which I was able to accomplish the task.

Now this was done on a personal account, but supposedly with an educator account (free), you are able to also have students share annotations, which should lead to some interesting class discussions.

Right now, my only complaint is that I do not know how to change the "1" into some other character. Would it not be powerful if it could be changed into some of the coding (?,!,*,ex) that I am supposed to be teaching?

In any case, now I need to make sure we can use Diigo behind my school's firewall, and that I set aside time to download the toolbar on all our devices. (Hopefully a student job!)

I also see this as a wonderful addition to the research portion of our 20% projects.