This term another teacher and myself undertook the e-portfolio journey with our classes. It was a great chance to work alongside a teacher with amazing ideas who wants to challenge where we were going with them and how they are working. Through many conversations and sharing sessions we worked on creating e-portfolios via keynote. Within this there has been some challenges and changes but mainly it has been 2 terms of hard work that paid off hugely with the student learning, collaboration and sharing.
For our e-port's we utilised a resource that the students had a basic understanding of - Keynote. Keynote is the mac version of Microsoft Powerpoint - but much more simple to use. The great thing about this was that the students weren't having to spend a lot of time on learning the technology so thus could focus more simply of the content of their Learning Links and sharing of the learning.
It was amazing to watch the students as they conversed and collaborated on their Learning Links. Often sessions would involve little direct teaching from me but rather facilitation of students helping each other. This allowed the students to build more and more confidence in the skills they had by being teachers. Students were able to hook their computers up to the projector and run small group workshops where they could share their knowledge. By the tech not being so heavy to learn and navigate it allowed the students to focus on the sharing of their learning.
Learning styles is a key area that we started the year learning about. It interested me to see groups of students who showed that they were very 'people smart' preferring to work in pairs or small groups while my 'self smart' students preferred to sit together but often didn't speak. For 2 students in particular they shared with me that their Learning Link was the best way to share their learning - they tended to be working on it in all opportunities, including their own time. All students thought that they were much better than sharing their learning via paper.
The biggest problem that we came across were the 2 following:
The crossing over of movie's from photo booth into keynote. Initially we were utilising the bonus of mac's drag and drop features but unfortunately we found that movies didn't transfer properly into keynote this way. By using the media button in Keynote to find and select movies we overcame that problem.
Because the Keynote is not an online system it meant that students had to take the keynote on and off the server to work and update their Learning Link. In the early days, as the students were learning the systems needed it meant that a lot of work was lost. As students became more confident with this we have had fewer problems with this. Ideally we both agree that an online system would be a good way to move forward and we have been investigating a range of systems.
In retrospect I can see that the students need a lot of focussed teaching on reflecting on their learning and work. The students are highly capable at choosing work that shows their learning journey and movement in core areas. In fact several of the students thought of better ways of showing their learning than I had originally allowed them. The teacher I am working alongside utilised the 6 thinking hats to help her students reflect. In adopting this idea I found that my students became more confident as they were using the hats to guide their reflections.
One thing that I worry about is that by putting hurdles up that make students explain their learning in a written format that it may mean some students aren't always selecting work they want to. Perhaps a good next step for this is trialling the students verbally reflecting via Garageband or Photo Booth to place into the Learning Links alongside the learning sample.
Overall I think that between the 2 of us we have given the students a lot of ownership over their Learning Links. They were keen to select and share the learning that they have completed over the last few terms and the parents seem to have enjoyed sitting down with the students and talking over these things at home. It will be interesting to read the feedback from the students and the parents about them too.