What’s the purpose?

I’ve just finished “grading” 41 portfolios, compilations of my students’ work from sixth to eighth grade. At FA, this is standard practice (and I’m proud we’ve been doing portfolios for about ten years now).

But I wonder if our practice of having students print out all their writing is truly the best way. Students in Upper School do an electronic portfolio, so to keep the process different, we have middle school students print and compile their work. Some Upper School teachers have also expressed concern than portfolios kept online might “disappear” and students wouldn’t have a record of their work.

Frankly, that isn’t a concern I have. And after watching them work so hard to print and create a physical representation of their work, I am even more frustrated that their portfolio isn’t a part of their blogs.

Reading David’s post caused me to ponder our choice even more.

When we create projects with students and then share them digitally, who owns the learning?

“We don’t own a student’s learning; It’s their learning. Whenever possible we need to be thinking about how we can provide students with an archive of their work… and that has to include the conversations (or comments in the case of blogs) and the hyperlinks that made the learning experience richer and more desirable to keep,” David says.

My students were not able to “take” or “compile” much of their work. Yes, they created a list of what I asked. Yes, they created a cute “container” in which to hold their work.

But I don’t believe their portfolio truly represents their thinking, creating, and publishing this year.

And that’s too bad.

5 Comments

  1. Wow, what a powerful reflection!
    When you said, “But I don’t believe their portfolio truly represents their thinking, creating, and publishing this year.”
    I realized that was a key point I was trying to make in my post… And your real-life example exemplifies the understanding of how digital text is truly different from our previous, printable representations of learning.
    Thank you for a great post!
    ps. Thoughts on how you will do this next year?

  2. Thanks David. Next year I will be working with the Powerful Learning Practice team, no longer teaching students. I’ll miss the kids, but I’m looking forward to thinking about the big picture…

  3. That’s great to hear Susan!
    I keep running into the PLP cohorts doing great things. What a wonderful adventure, I wish you the best of luck and feel lucky to have you in my PLN.
    Thanks again for being so openly reflective and contributing to my learning!
    ~Dave.

  4. I really appreciate this post. As our school moves to eportfolios, I really believe that the students should have say in what they create. Part of their own learning is that they have the opportunity to create what they have imagined and share what is meaningful to them. I am getting my mind wrapped around this but there are so many things that we have to look at when we are moving students towards creating effective portfolios.

    Thanks for this post! I have sent to my admin team for consideration.

  5. You are right, George. So much to consider as we help them craft/create their online presence. Thanks for visiting.

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