Wednesday, February 8, 2012

E-portfolio Continues....

With the number of free web sites out on the web, which ones should you used?  Before you even start with this question you need to consider what will you use the the portfolio for. You as a teacher need to understand why you are asking students to create the portfolio and you need them to understand this use as well as make this their same goal.
Starting an ePortfolio is like starting writing a letter. We fear the “blank page” and wonder where and how to start.
Students will ask the questions:
  •  What shall I put in my ePortfolio?
  • How am I going to present myself?
  • Who is going to read it?
  • How am I going to speak to my readers?
and you need to be prepared to answer these important questions. You need to understand the purpose of why you are asking students to create portfolios.

All ePortfolios contain the following elements:
  • Products – which can be things you have done on your own or with the help of others – such as your web 2.0 tools, or anything that you produced to show a skill.
  • Reflections – after a specific activity, on what you have learned, on a specific event or something that was discussed or read.
  • Feedback – what the readers of your ePortfolio think of its contents

The student themselves must  select which of these is more important for their ePortfolio so they can take ownership of their learning.

I am asking students to create an electronic portfolio so that I have an area I can assess, see their work but also give them an area where their critical thinking skills can be improved.  In their reflection of what they have learned.
A critical thinker:
  •  Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives

  • Tries to be well-informed

  • Judges well the credibility of sources

  •  Identifies conclusions, reasons, and assumptions
  • Judges well the quality of an argument, including the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions, and evidence

  • Can well develop and defend a reasonable position

  •  Asks appropriate clarifying questions

  • Formulates plausible hypotheses; plans experiments well

  • Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context

  • Draws conclusions when warranted, but with caution
  • Integrates all items in this list when deciding what to believe or do.

These portfolios will be a work in process, hopefully students will develop their critical thinking skills.  The good thing about an ePortfolio is that it is always “work in progress.” That means:
  • students can always improve your ePortfolio.
  • students can always ask friends or family  to help you improve it (self, peer, and parent assessment will be used)
  • There is no such thing as the completed or final ePortfolio.” However, students can always use it to reflect on what they have learned and ask the people they trust to help them to improve it.
  • But also just as important you the teacher can ask specifically for some items to be put in their portfolio.

We are excited about using electronic portfolios, and hope that this process will not only teach students a modern concept used in the business world today to apply for job opportunities, but also develop an opportunity for parents/guardians to see first-hand some of the students work online. It is the hope that using these portfolios with critical thinking questions, students will developed the above skills mentioned.   I look forward to the results.  


  1. I like how you emphasize the need to think through the purpose before starting the ePortfolio. I tend to see ePortfolios a a student's ongoing demonstration of learning whereas blogs are for communication and feedback.

    It took me about three years to work up a decent ePortfolio modes:

    How have the results been so far?

    1. Hi Janet. Thanks for commenting, sometimes I think I'm just saying my thoughts out loud to myself. The Grade 9's are doing well so far, had our first post on the subject of copyright and creative commons on Flickr, explaining to students about citing the pictures of others. Asked them to give opinion on taking pictures, music and movies off the internet, and backing up their opinion. It will take a while to train students how to critiquing their own work effectively and how to self-assess.

      Love your integration of google docs into your portfolios. Will try that. Which Web 2.0 tools have you used?

  2. Most of what I do can be done with google docs, map, and such. I haven't had too much success with wikis. I set up a class blog-which worked fairly well for communication.

    I'm starting to make a list of other 2.0 tools to try next year. Some colleagues have had great success with Edmodo (the kiddos flip for badges at the upper primary level). For parent communication, I'm thinking of a closed Facebook page (they all check that regularly. I can have the students link their google sites and I can link the class blog to the page using IFTTT (if this then that....).


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