Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Continuing on with E-Portfolios

It's been a while now since I've blogged for a number of reasons. I would like to blog on each reason this week.  But tonight one of the reasons is the research and development I am currently involved in with my electronic portfolios for my Grade 11/12 Information Technology Class. It has exploded on me!!

For the past month and a half, I have been teaching a differentiated classroom of students in the areas of Photoshop, Illustrator, computer programming (using Scratch from MIT - a great intro to programming in my humble opinion), and Flash.  My classroom consist of 31 students in grades eleven and twelve, some first timers in computers, others experts in some fields, novices in others.  The scope of knowledge and talent is a vast chasm.  In Information Technology you have all types of students, many want specifically to be taught a certain topic (it's been C++, Visual Basic, App programming, Effects, Virtual Reality to name a few requests).  To keep the interest of the students, I use varieties of subject matters, giving ownership of learning to students to choose a field of study, work on lessons I've developed or found for them, and when done students post to Facebook so I can follow their development.  I've set up a Facebook account that is ONLY for teaching, my students have done the same.  We have “friended” each other so that I can see the images of their work that they put on their wall.  Students critique their own work, I add my comments to theirs and I grade them out of a 5.  We have talked about grading and how to earn a 5 out of 5.  A 1 = you can do better then that and we both know it so stop fooling around.  A 3 = that's not bad, how about trying this.....  and this.....  A 5/5 = great work, can't believe how well you've done!!!  Great growth.  

If the student has less then a 5 they have the opportunity to change or revise their work and resubmit it whereas I'll critique it again.  This seems to be the selection of most students, to review, revise and continue to work.    But the work, the constructive commentary on the work of peers, and the revisions seem to go beyond what they are asked to do.  Just examine  the advance work of a student who started Photoshop this year...  I've moved this student out of Photoshop now to Illustrator to give her the challenge to make her own sketches/designs.  The object is for students to go beyond their comfort zone, to push them further.  Bernice can easily learn Photoshop on her own now.  She is now a self-learner in Photoshop.  What I want is for her to start in a new area, become passionate in learning in this area and continue to grow.  What's next?!!

Here is another example of a student going beyond the line set in the sand....  He blew away the sand and made his own sandcastle.  I laughed at his facial expression when I told him that he's surpass me in this program and lets try something new so he could continue to learn in a different field.  I had to explain that I couldn't be good in everything in computers, and neither will he be, but he should learn to explore all areas, to see what he wants to learn.  He is now working on Flash, learning to animate at a basic level.  His imagination will challenge his learning curve and his passion will make sure the two will curve upwards only.

Another group of students had the task to create a a game with three levels, use conditionals and variables in the program, using the color feature to track gains or losses in the game and just to have fun.  Click here to play his game.  I am a little unnearved and where I can take him next to challenge his abilities.  He is starting an online course in JavaScripting to continue to develop his programming skills.  The object is to make sure he understands the basics of programming, and it's application in  different programming languages like visual basic, C++, and Java.

On average Photoshop students do 20 - 29 assignments (photos on their Facebook), programming students do 12 programs (linked in their Facebook), and Illustrator students can create 18 - 20 projects by the end of the term.  With 31 students, that a lot of correcting, with an explosion of critical thinking, and development.  Now you know why I have not posted.

I need to focus the portfolios to match my goal for students.  The portfolio to not just a display portfolio but a assessment portfolio as well.  I need the students to do more self-assessment, understanding that this portfolio is to show their growth - a growth portfolio.  These portfolios have many purposes, but there is a need of training for the students for them to understand their importance.  Students are still making inappropriate comments on a professional portfolio.  To stop this I am getting students to fix up the portfolios, and parents will be invited to assess their child's work, making critical observations of growth.

Wish me luck.

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