Blogs as Web Based Portfolios Part 1

(Part 1 of a series of blog posts to be made into a free PDF. Your feedback, ideas and thoughts are critical!) The Purpose The purpose of this PDF is to help schools looking at adopting Web Based Portfolios (WBP) as a form of assessment with students over a period of time. By adopting a web-based platform as a container in which to house portfolio content, schools give students a web-based vehicle with endless possibilities to create, collaborate and communicate their learning to the world. All-In-One Assessment Vehicle Web Based Portfolios have been gaining ground in recent years as the skills needed to create digital content have become less complex. Remember the days when a digital portfolio meant courses in Dreamweaver or some other programing language? Those days are behind us as the tools of the web have taken over and simplified things to a point where a true Web Based Portfolio is possible. In the past, schools, teachers and even students had to decide what their portfolio was going to reflect. Was it going to be a portfolio that showed assessment for learning or assessment of learning? The decision had to be made because in a paper-based world you just did not have enough space to physically hold all of the content to show both. In fact, in a paper-based world many teachers and schools started out envisioning their portfolios as a way to reflect on assessment for learning. In many cases, due to physical requirements in holding the amount of paper it took to show the learning process, many teachers and students ended up creating portfolios that showed assessment of learning. When a choice has to be made because of limited space to keep a rough draft or a final copy students will keep the final copy, and so will teachers. WBPs if nothing else, solve this age old portfolio issue. With the cost of servers and web storage continuing to drop, creating endless storage space for students to show the learning process and allowing teachers to assess for learning is cheap and getting less expensive every day. When students have endless space, a WBP not only shows assessment for learning, but also assessment of learning. We now have a vehicle that has the space to allow students and teachers to have the best of both worlds all in one place and the ability to track learning...

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Blogs in Student-Led Conferences

Let me start this post with a disclaimer. There are a million ways to use blogs in education. The following is just one way we are using blogs at SAS. As my time winds down here at SAS I find myself reflecting on the past three years and keep asking myself: Did I leave a mark? I think we all go through this and we all want this on some level. We want to know that our institution is better off because we were there. That somewhere we left a mark on a student, on the organization, or on fellow teachers. I think it’s a natural human feeling to reflect and hope that you have had a lasting positive effect at your workplace. Last year I introduced blogging to SAS. A year later we have close to 700 student blogs/web sites and we’re closing in on 200 teacher blogs/websites. I say blogs/websites because I do believe the two are different and the way in which a user decides to use the space they have been given is up to them. Last year we saw the blogs be “another thing” that we were doing at our school. This year thanks to some leaders in the classroom the blogs at certain grades have become just what we do. Our middle school was been moving to a Student-Led Conference (SLC) format over the past two years. Personally I think it’s the only way to hold conferences with parents as it puts the student at the center of the learning process (what a concept). My last three years in the classroom I ran SLCs and at my last school in Saudi Arabia was head of a committee that saw us implement SLCs K-12 in our school (my lasting moment at that school). (An article I wrote in 2002 on Student-Led Conferences as part of my Master’s Degree) Student-Led Conference are usually built around a portfolio created by the student. This year our 8th grade team with the help of Amanda DeCardy (8th Grade Math teacher, and next year a technology integrator for the school) set out to use the blogs as a place for student to produce, upload, and reflect on work in their classrooms. Essentially creating an e-portfolios. Early in the year I sat down with the 8th grade team for about an hour and we discussed how students could organize their...

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