Michigan Portfolios

Nov26

Project Title: Digital Portfolios in the Classroom — A Teacher Research Project

Jessica Cleland
Language Arts 8/Honors Language Arts 9
Clarkston Junior High School

Why Portfolios are Important

Four years ago, implementing digital portfolios in the classroom became one of my most important educational endeavors. The most exciting thing for me about the use of digital portfolios is to see the pride students have about their growth as readers, writers and thinkers throughout the school year.  It is also exciting to see the parents’ reactions to their child’s growth throughout the school year.  However, the most significant thing for me is the knowledge that the work I am doing is critical in propelling the conversation forward about the way we assess students’ learning.

Goals of Project:

  • To make use of authentic assessments
  • To use the digital portfolio as a springboard for doing more authentic work
  • To allow students the means to do reflective thinking/writing about their learning
  • To incorporate 21st century learning skills

Overview of the Steps of the Process:

  1. Introduce the concept/purpose of a digital portfolio by using a student model.  I use student models from previous years to inspire and teach current students.
  2. Create a digital portfolio space using student gmail accounts. Every student in the Clarkston School District has a gmail account.
  3. Instruct students on how to set up and maintain the portfolio space. This requires ongoing teaching and modeling of computer skills.
  4. Design and individualize the portfolio space.  Students are invited to make the space their own by designing the background and writing a home note to visitors of their website portfolio.
  5. Create a September Profile Page that includes an initial survey about reading and writing attitudes and a writing sample.
  6. Create a variety of pages on the portfolio where students can collect multiple drafts,  reflections, multi-media projects,  and cumulative reading lists.
  7.  Create a blog space for students to blog about topics of interest and communicate with each other.
  8. Have students maintain a collection of work over a period of time, annotate that work, set goals, and reflect on their work.
  9. Collect data prior to each Oakland Schools Writing Unit.
  10. Students will write a year end reflection, participate in a take-home conference with parents and an in-class conference with a peer.  Students and parents will complete a conference/ reflection form.

Where I Am With This Project:

Currently, I am in my 4th year of using digital portfolios in the classroom.  Each year, I learn more, I change more, and I push students further.  My goal for this year is to do more authentic, meaningful projects that mirror real world living. A second goal is to be more conscientious of the way I am assessing students and figuring  out ways to report out on the data that I know exists within students’ work collection.

Problem Solving:

When I first started this project the problems were mainly learning how to teach students the skills they needed to set up and maintain a digital portfolio.  This is an on-going process and with each year I become more proficient in the use of Gmail websites and more proficient at teaching the skills students need to know to be successful in maintaining a digital portfolio.   I am happy to report that my challenges now include how to share the learning that is taking place in my classroom, how to demonstrate the potential the use of digital portfolios have for students to see themselves as learners and to share my own growth as an educator.  It is my hope that these stories will change the landscape of traditional assessment.

The following links will take you to the work collections of three of my Language Arts students:

(This portfolio is representative of McKenna’s 8th Grade ALA Portfolio 2012-2013 with the start of her first trimester 9th Grade ALA Portfolio work 2014 – present.)

(These two portfolios are representative of three of my 8th grade ELA students from September 2013  - present.)

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