Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is this really "School Smart"?

Today is the last day of school for me. As I walked into my classroom and started to put some of my equipment away for the summer (the trusty old Elmo document camera and the DVD  player) I happened to notice this brand name on the box of file folders that I had purchased this year.

And then I asked myself the question, "Are these folders and this method of collecting student work throughout the year really "Student Smart"?" And the answer inside of me was a resounding "NO!"
Of course not! What was I thinking?!

The folder system does function, it keeps your students work together and you keep it in your classroom in a nice tidy area, but how does that reach the students? How do your students access their work? Do you have the students access the folders throughout the year? And then what do you have them do with it once they have it in their hands? Are they reflecting on their progress, making new goals or forming up new plans to tackle the old ones?

My goal next year is to curate student work electonically and there are some really great options out there. I am already starting to work on my idea now so that it is ready to go (so important to lay down all of the classroom expectations and procedures right at the start of the school year!) I am setting up a Google Site within my school district's domain, saving it as a template and then will have my students go out and grab that template to create their site. There they will house their work (which might involve me scanning in some paper items here and there) and then share the site with me as a teacher where I will be able to view/comment on their work. More feedback and more interaction with their work is already a plus!

Google has some great instructions on how to get started here. Also if you are interested in exploring the topic of e-portfolios more, there is a short and sweet article here from Katie Lepi at Edudemic titled "4 ways to Make Digital Portfolios with Students". She has some other good options for setting up e-portfolios for students' content curation. I really like the articles so I am pasting a link to her posts here if you would like to read more of her ideas. I also would like to give a shout out to the folks at Live Binder who also have some good options for housing student work.

So over the summer as you reflect on the past school year and set your goals to grow and improve as teachers, ask yourself  the question
"Is this really School Smart"?

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