You do not always expect the first workshop, on the first day of a conference to be a slam-dunk, but my 8:00 A.M. Thursday morning session was awesome.
Every bit of information that I collected at the Garrison Forest School workshop on electronic portfolios, presented at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference in Philadelphia, will help me start an e-portfolio project at my school. As the four presenters shared their many resources and described their electronic portfolio research, my mind zoomed ahead to my return to school — all this before the end of the first hour of the conference.
I’ve been thinking about helping teachers and students create e-portfolios for some time, but with so many factors to consider and so much to figure out, I’m always a bit stumped when I think about the extensive collaboration that needs to take place. The benefits for teachers, students, and parents are clear, but the process takes an enormous amount of time to plan and carry out, and time is always at a premium. Yet we all know that twenty-first Century learners need to be able to think about, examine, evaluate, and extend their work if they are to be, well — better 21st Century learners. E-portfolios support this learning process.
Interestingly, about two weeks before this conference, two teaching teams that I support indicated – out of the blue — their interest in developing some sort of electronic portfolio project, so I am fortunate to have a small group of educators who want to get started. This workshop has essentially handed me the knowledge as well as a map to lead me.
I have a new favorite app — Wordfoto. Interestingly it’s designed for an iPhone but does not yet have an iPad version.
With the Wordfoto application, I make a word list and then have some fun designing art. I select a picture as a background to highlight my words. I can use an image that comes with the app, I can use one of the pictures in my iPhone photo galleries, or I can take a new picture.
When I combine the picture and the word list — voila, a cool Wordfoto. The app comes with a variety of editing options, allowing users to play with the image, crop it, create styles, and fine tune the texture of the pictures. Wordfoto also comes with preset styles that introduce texture, color, and depth variations, making it easy for new users to get started.
Newly created images can be easily e-mailed, posted to Facebook, and more. Once e-mailed, the Wordfoto jpg images can be incorporated into other projects.
Potential uses? Spelling lists, messages and cards, vocabulary practice, event signs, and much more. The images will also be useful as illustrations for school reports, and I’m excited because I design occasional images for my blog posts.
I’ve just finished up a digital citizenship unit with my students, covering privacy, digital footprints, digital communication and the lack of human cues, and a bit about how easy it is for a person to cyber-bully using sarcasm, criticism, and flippant comments. It’s a lot to cover in a month, but we manage quite well.
After we complete the classroom activities, and most of these are collaborative smaller projects, the children complete a final poster project. I expect the poster to communicate as much information as possible on one of the topics. The posters are not digital creations because we hang them in a school hallway — a digital citizenship exhibition — for a month in the winter.
I am always amazed at the way these posters demonstrate how much my students have learned. Some children focus on the artwork, while others are more text oriented. Still others use a computer, clip art, or a presentation tool, combining components to make their posters. Continue reading “Assessing Students but Not With Grades”→