Once again, I went to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference. This year, it was in Philadelphia. My next few posts will be summaries of the sessions I attended.
The first workshop I went to was presented by a team of teachers (Christine Shriver, Renee Hawkins, Lindsay Kelland, and Stacie Munoz) from Garrison Forest School in Maryland: “e-Portfolos: Teaching Students to Curate and Manage Their Digital Footprints”. They have their students begin creating and maintaining online portfolios beginning in first grade.
The reasons why they feel e-portfolios are important are:
- STUDENTS learn to think beyond the grade and practice meta-cognition.
- STUDENTS learn to discuss and set learning goals and strategies for getting there
- STUDENTS learn to curate their work and accomplishments, practicing responsibility and organization.
- STUDENTS develop dispositions for life-long learning.
- STUDENTS learn and practice valuable technology skills.
- TEACHERS can individualize the student learning experience.
- TEACHERS, PARENTS become partners in the STUDENT’S, learning experience.
The Lower School uses EverNote. Students turn in their work to the teacher, and he/she scans and uploads it to EverNote.
The Middle School uses GoogleSites. The technology integrator created a sample site for students to see, then she helped them create their own personalized sites. They write reflections, upload photos and videos, etc. They receive feedback from teachers, who in turn use the portfolios in Parent-Teacher conferences.
An interesting twist is the way the students’ work is categorized – not by subject, but by learning habits: Self-Directed Learning, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Curiosity, and Creativity. Students have to explain why each submission fits into each category, which makes them do some meta-cognitive work.
The Upper School will roll out their e-portfolios next year. For this age level, the purpose is to develop an online resume, manage your digital footprint, reflection on your academic learning, build curating skills, as well as technology/design skills.
One thing that impressed me was the team’s emphasis on teaching their students the importance of maintaining a reputable digital footprint that a student can be proud of. They have their students Google themselves to see what is most prominent in their online portraits, and then explain how they can use their e-portfolios to make sure any search will return desirable results. Definitely a skill this generation of students needs to be well-versed in!