Well, it’s taken a while to create something that looks like an ePortfolio for an upper Primary aged class – but I think I’m getting there. When I first heard of the concept, I wrote a blog post on here and I like to revisit it now and then to make sure that I’m not cheating and calling something an ePortfolio when it clearly isn’t. The original post is here.
I wrote that post while on secondment, and it helps that I now have my own Primary 6 class to experiment with 🙂 Much of what we’ve been up to can be seen on thepages of our class blog – but I thought it might be a good idea to record the recent ePortfolio journey on here.
My previous post explained my thinking behind using Glow wikis as ePortfolios and here’s the story about how things are going so far:
When I first introduced Glow wikis as ePortfolios, Andrew wrote:
“Hi everyone! Welcome to my ePortfolio. Well, this is actually a GlowWiki but I am using it as an ePortfolio. Incase you were wondering, an ePortfolio is something online where you record your achievements throughout the years. You can use it to get a job when you grow up as well. So if you want to view all my achievements throughout the years, click on the pages to the left, or use the links on the banners below.”
Others have also begun recording their achievements. For example, Anna was keen to record her class talk about her cat called Pepper and she made a reconstruction of her original talk so that she could add it to her ePortfolio. Have a look/listen here
And, as part of our Victorian’s project, the class were asked to interview an older member of their family so that they could get a sense of the past. Brooke uploaded her interview with her Gran to her ePortfolio. Have a listen: Brooke interviews her Gran about schooldays in the past
Ryan, on the other hand, was less taken with the idea:
“Hi my name is ryan r and I am new to the eportfoio and I do not know what to do on it. Hopefully my friend Jack D the expert can help me.”
After seeing these, Ryan was keen to show off his own achievements outside of school and brought in some of his football trophies. With help from others, he managed to update his own ePortfolio andrecord his football achievements on photostory 3
There are more Glow wiki examples I could link to, but what I’m hoping is that the children will see the connection between their Glow wikis and they great posts they’ve been adding to their Glog blogs. There are lots and lots of examples of great blog posts, but I’ll link to Mason’s one about finding a reading book about his favourite film ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. I didn’t know that Mason liked the film … or the book 🙂 Mason’s blog post ishere.
Their story writing, started on their wikispaces during their ‘pre Glow wiki era’, should also be included. The Terrible Time Machine is a great example. Read it here.
We’ve also recently set up a class Glow wiki so that the children can demonstrate their ability to work with others.
From Jack’s first blog post in August this session, I was optimistic that the class would make use of their online spaces.
Jack’s post was very short and to the point.
“Hello mighty world ( that’s full of random people watching me on my blog ). Watch and see what happen’s because im full of good ideas.”
The class have now had their Glow blogs for less than four months, but a lot has happened in that short time and I thought that I would write this post as a reminder of the direction we seem to be going in.
I made the decision to allow the children to have complete control over the content of their blog posts. I was aware of how much more successful this approach is compared to directing the children to write about specific subjects when I carried out a case study of my use of blogs a couple of years ago.
I am also satisfied that the children (and their parents/carers) recognise the responsibilities of having a blog and that they all understand the reasons behind our ‘Blogging Rules’.
These are embedded in a page on their blogs as a reminder.
Of course, there have been the inevitable football posts! Some just show random pictures, and a post from Kian about Falkirk Football Club Matches received 8 comments… I’ve no idea of the significance of them (apart from the first one, of course!). Football has, however, inspired some super blog posts like this one from Andrew . Although Sean is a reluctant writer, he was motivated to write a great blog post about his first time at a big football match– and delighted at the encouraging comments from teachers in other Authorities. But this comment from Jade caught my eye:
” Well done sean,you have won my post of the week Competition,you might win again next week,if other people do a better one well you will just have to do another one but it is fine because you can win more than 3 times in a row!”
It alerted me to the fact that the children were actually reading each others’ posts. New blog posts were also appearing to back this up:
“Hello!,welcome back to the best post of the week! HERE is a link to the winner’s blog. The winner is Lewis with his post about Admivore,with an astonishing, 7 comments! he was tied with sean but he had more in his post! sorry sean, the finalests were Brooke,Anna,Lucy N,sean Lewis,natasha,Ryan R and Mason,they were all great this week so it was hard, but only one person could of won sorry everyone!”
One of the posts that was voted as a ‘winner’ was by Natasha. She had been off school recovering from an operation on her foot. It was a great way for her to keep in touch with her peers, and there are 16 comments on the post now. At the end of the post, she mentioned how much she was going to miss not being able to go on our impending trip to the Glasgow Science Centre:
“MY mum say’s I probably wont go on the trip D: because if I cant walk then I cant get to school therefore I cant go on the trip D: and if I cant then please DONT tell me what happened because if you do I’m gonna feel REALLY bad because I didn’t get to enjoy it but I hope everyone has a good time if I don’t make it”
As a result of her writing that post, the school:
Contacted the Science Centre and arranged for a wheel chair to be available for her
Phoned her mum to ask if she was available to accompany Natasha on the trip
Arranged for the janitor to pick Natasha up at home and drop her off at the bus that would take us to Glasgow and then meet her off the bus again to drive her home (mum doesn’t have a car).
What a nice way to end my assessment of our Glow blogging so far … Natasha was VERY pleased she’d written that post and she followed it with a Thank You to all her classmates:
“Ok i’ll start off with Thanks peeps for all the comments. I really appriciate it!!! Ive read all of them and trieing to reply to them. Anyway WOOHOO I can go on the trip tomorrow!!! YAY The janny will drive over here then drive over to the bus. I will then limp/hop into the bus then sit down when we get there (BTW my mum has to come) and I hop/limp into the science center. Theres a wheelchair I sit in it and my mum wheels me around!!! Thanks Guys!”
There have been some great benefits to our Blogging Journey, but so far this response to one of the Glow blog posts has been the ‘icing on the cake’ 🙂
In myprevious post I revisited my Chartered Teacher dissertation where I’d mentioned research by Stern (2007) who found that in her study, the main audience for young people’s blogs were the authors themselves and that they were self reflecting as they tested out different versions of their current and possible identities. She also found that they were continually testing out other audiences too, and that they were hungry for peer approval.
The Primary Six children in my class certainly value getting comments on their blog posts. For the first few months, it was common for every post to end with a, “Please leavecomments!” plea, and I’d occasionally ask my twitter followers to oblige them 🙂 The children were undaunted by this … until Andrew received a comment from Dairmid , a 9 year old:
Hi Andrew, I Am Nine too and i play football on saturday but for a diffrent club ,maybr we could become freinds and date a playday
In class the next day, Andrew told me that he’d received a suspicious comment. He was worried that it was from an adult pretending to be a 9 year old. I was able to reassure him that it was from Catriona’s son – we’d had a discussion about it on twitter and she’d mentioned that Dairmid had left the comment 🙂
I found this interesting, though, as three years ago it was the adult comments that were more difficult for my class to accept as this quote from my dissertation shows:
“The third adult comment resulted in much excitement. The children were unexpectedly bewildered by it, and had difficulty coming to terms with how the blogs were discovered by this teacher. Although all the children were aware of search engines, and had personal experience of using them, they still could not quite grasp how this visitor had stumbled upon one of their blogs. Visiting children, on the other hand, did not surprise them at all”
I’ve set up our Glow blogs so that I’m able to track who is commenting on the children’s blogs, and recently I’ve become aware that the majority of the comments are coming from the children themselves as the image here shows.
Other changes are taking place as well, though, because I’ve noticed that the class are now beginning to reflect on each others’ posts. They’ve begun writing about a ‘competition for the best post of the week’. Jade’s example of this can be seen here – more of these types of ‘lets look at what others are writing’ posts are continuing to make an appearance.
I was worried that the children’s motivation to blog would begin to wane if I couldn’t provide an audience for them, but it seems that they’re happy enough to have their peers as their audience when it comes to comments – maybe Stern was right 🙂
Stern (2007) also mentioned the importance young people attach to personalising their online spaces, and how they prepare them with careful attention to detail.
It might be significant that the change to a more class community feel to our blogs coincides with the fact that I’ve allowed (and shown) the children how to customise their Glow Blog Header image. As usual, a few ‘experts’ are emerging and they are helping others to upload images successfully. Three Header images that I like are ones that mirror the children’s interests.
Jade loves her pets.
Charlotte is really into frogs!
Jennifer is adamant that she is the biggest fan of Rubber Ducks ever 🙂
Last night I began with the intention of writing about three topics, and even uploaded some images to help guide me through the post. Unfortunately, I’ve only managed one of the topics because I keep getting sidelined by what’s happening on the blogs. Here are the three topics – one down, two to go …
Audience (managed that!)
Assessment (via Glow Blog Posts)
ePortfolios (development update)
I hope I find the time to write up the other two topics before I get waylaid again 🙂
I mentioned in my previous postthat I was surprised at the unexpected lengthy pieces of writing on the children’s Glow blogs and wikis. I’ve been using the same strategy that I adopted previously when I carried out a case study for my Chartered Teacher studies – my dissertation has the details, and I’ve had a closer look to see if I can come up with a formula (I’ve looked at some of the professional reading that helped to convey my thoughts at the time).
Three ingredients jump out:
1. Content – The freedom to choose
Lafferty (2004): “To develop an online community requires a more student-centred approach with the tutor transforming into a facilitator from ’sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side.”
Marsh (2007) proposed that by enabling children to create blogs based on their own interest, valuable learning opportunities might be developed
Buckingham (2008) argues that through using the new media, young people are learning primarily by means of discovery, experimentation, and play, rather than by following external instructions and directions
Stern (2007) also found that in the absence of audible or visual cues, young people often feel less inhibited, a sensation heightened by the experience of crafting messages in front of a computer screen, frequently in the privacy of their own room or other personal space. She claims that authors possess more control over the impressions they give than they do in offline spaces, since they make all the decisions about what to reveal, omit, embellish, or underplay.
Wenger states that the school is not the privileged locus of learning. It is not a self-contained, closed world in which students acquire knowledge to be applied outside, but a part of a broader learning system. The class is not the primary learning event. It is life itself that is the main learning event.
2. Comments – Creating a sense of audience
Stern (2007) argues that the main audience for their blogs was the authors themselves and that they were self reflecting as they tested out different versions of their current and possible identities. She also maintains, however, that they were continually testing out other audiences too, and that they were hungry for peer approval
Davis and merchant (2006) believe that the perception of an actual or imagined audience prompts us to think about what we wish to show ……… an audience to whom one is presenting a particular narrative of the self
3. Sharing – New posts shared offline (in class), tends to influence other – sometimes typically reluctant – writers to add posts to their own blogs .
Godwin-Jones (2003) explains that blogs and wikis offer powerful opportunities for online collaboration for learners. He states that the encouragement of peer to peer networking and buddy learning is central to a constructivist learning approach,
Dissertation quote – Sharing the stories that the children wrote on their wikis provided ideal opportunities for formal learning to occur. The stories were written at home, usually in instalments. It is clear that the children often went home and improved parts of their stories after having heard them read aloud in class.
Owen et al, 2006 believe that there is significant potential for the development of new approaches to education. There are changes in our understanding of practices of creativity and innovation – from the idea of the isolated individual ‘genius’ to the concept of ‘communities of practice’, where reflection and feedback are important collaborative processes.
But there’s a fourth ingredient that came in to play during the case study period and that was the importance of ‘Role Models’. At the time I was interested in gender differences and I noted that my class were very aware that some of the The AllStars girl bloggers seemed very skilled writers. This encouraged the girls in my own class to improve the quality and quantity of their posts. The boys, on the other hand, had no such role models. The AllStars teacher Kim P contacted me at the time because she was aware of the same gender differences:
“Girls seem more word oriented evidenced by their blogging stories, commentaries etc; whereas boys tend to prefer visual (and less text oriented) ways of expressing themselves. Maybe boys prefer to talk and show how to use an application, rather than using application for personal reasons.”
This time around the gender balance has changed, though. It’s the boys who tend to write more on their blogs and wikis – and the Role Models are in our own class 🙂
Kian started this storyas a blog post and it’s now 6000 words long. He’s been continuing it on a Word document and it’s being saved on a memory stick until it’s finished (we’ve had a lot of discussions about copyright and I suspect he’s protecting the idea until it’s published).
Jack has been writing a hilarious story on his wiki. It shocked me at first, but I can’t wait to read more. What do you think? Jack’s Story
Now more reluctant writers are beginning to add lengthy posts. Four stand out for me:
Sean wrote a great account of his first experience at a football match. I don’t think he’d have been this inspired in class. It’s here
I’m impressed that Ryan was motivated to write this post in his own time.
Dylan’s post made me smile and I want to know more about his knowledge of FalkirkBus Routes.
It’s been couple of weeks since I issued the class with their Glow Blog usenames and passwords (actually it was a phased programme, so some have only had theirs for a week). In that short space of time there has been a lot of activity. I’ve been surprised by the way some of the boys have taken to their blogs. Andrew and Kianhave written some great posts – and Jack’s ‘Hello Mighty World’ post really made me smile 🙂
The reason that I’m surprised at the way that the boys in the class have taken to the blogs, is because my research from a couple of years ago pointed to the fact that the girls were much more reflective and the boys preferred to upload pics, etc. This is not the case with this particular class. The girls are the ones who are keen to express themselves via slideshows, etc. The dissertation was a Case Study, though, and only looked at my (then) P7 class. Although at the time, KimPcommented that she had found a similar trend with her own class
“…….The Vokis and Animotos are visual – like the prevalence of pictures on the boys blogs. I’ve noticed that the boys in my class also are really good at making topic related vokis and animotos.
In my experience, girls use these applications in a different way – more about how they see themselves, or want to see themselves; as opposed to the boys filling these applications with topic specific pictures and content.
…..PS Girls seem more word oriented evidenced by their blogging stories, commentaries etc; whereas boys tend to prefer visual (and less text oriented) ways of expressing themselves. Maybe boys prefer to talk and show how to use an application, rather than using application for personal reasons. Don’t know? Not sure”
Including slideshows in their Glow blog posts is proving a bit of a challenge as only certain sites can be embedded in to Glow Blogs. I had originally hoped to get round this by using Photostory3 (now available on all our school computers) and uploading these to Vimeo, but, although I can access Vimeo in school, I can’t log in to upload anything (and the children can’t access it at all when logged in to the computers). After a LOT of experimenting, however, I’ve managed to find some sites that do work and I’ll show these to the class tomorrow via atrial blogI set up. I’ve also just noticed that some of the girls have alreadyfound a way to include slideshows – but I suspect that they’ll soon use up the 100mb storage limit if they continue to do this (I’ll also need to disappoint them by pointing out that they can’t use pop music on their slideshows unles they’re sure the have permisson – I have explained about images, but didn’t think we were ready for the music just yet!)
What hasn’t changed, though, is the delight when comments are received. ‘Audience’ is clearly a very important part of their blogging. We’ve had to be careful to log out before leaving comments on posts, however, because surnames automatically appear (I could solve this by changing each of their Glow profile pages, but I just don’t have the time!)
Keeping track of the blogs is relatively easy as I use Google Reader, but I’ve noticed that if you visit the Local Authority Glow blog, then the most recently active blogs move to the top of the list.
Up until now, the class have been ‘getting to know’ their online spaces and just learning about how they work. Last week, I introduced them to linking to each others’ blogs or to any online webpage, and next I plan to explain the benefit of tagging their posts. I plan to let them grow organically as, if they’re going to withstand the test of time (and to eventually become part of an ePortfolio), the children need to feel ownership of the spaces. I was surprised, therefore, when they came up with the suggestion of using them as a learning log for their class project. Andrewblogged about this – and has already had feedback from his new PLN 🙂
“Hi again! Today at school Mrs V gave us all a Learning Log. A learning log is when you get given something to find out about. It can be anything from finding out about food to finding out about magnetism. Most of the time you get a week to do it. We were lucky though because you normally have to do it in a big jotter but we got to do ours on our blogs! Since our topic is on Australia my learning log is about Sydney! If any of the AllStars check out my blog could you please leave comments telling me a bit about Sydney! So heres my learning log…”
But I think that the biggest advantage of having given the children their own blogs, is the difference it has already made to the classroom climate … and the insight I’ve had to the children’s interests and personalities after having only been with them for such a short time. More on this to follow ….
A handful of children now have their Glow Blog username and password. These were sent home along with a covering letter explaining what Glow is and the potenial benefits of Glow blogs. Before issuing the passwords etc., the blogs were customised for safe use (well, as safe as possible without compromising on the gains).
The changes included:
Ensuring that all the blog URLs began with cps (Carronshore Primary School) followed by the child’s first name and second initial of their surname –https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/cpsalysonm/ This gives a ‘uniform’ appearance to the blogs and associates them with an educational establishment (not just another social networking site that some children might be already using)
The Headers were modified so that the school identity was prominent. I made these by uploading pictures made in weeworld (it’s for 13+ age group, but the children were not using the actual site – they logged on via a school account made by me and simply saved their avatars). I then uploaded them to Microsoft Publisher and saved the file as a jpeg. This was then uploaded to Microsoft Picture Manager and cropped and resized to the right specifications.
In the Settings menu on the dashboard, the ‘discussion’ options were set so that all comments would require moderation before appearing ‘live’ on the blogs. It’s imortant to change the default ones to those shown here because in wordpress they’re set to “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” – a bit like a ‘catch 22’ scenario 🙂
2.‘Text’ widget – to link the blogs to http://www.scotedublogs.org.uk/ . Glow Blogs aren’t able to link to this site at the moment, but it’s being worked on and the issue will be sorted soon – fingers crossed 🙂
3.‘Pages’ widget – I felt it was important to share our class Blogging Rules on their individual blogs.
4. ‘Archives’ widget –I learned from previous experiences of providing children with their own online spaces that it can be difficult for them to understand what has happened to posts they’ve been proud of – and suddenly they seem to disappear because they get archived.
5. ‘Tag Cloud’ widget – Although I’ve activated this widget, I haven’t discussed its use yet with the class. I’m very guilty of not using it in my own blog – but have recently been converted to appreciating the value of tagging posts.
6. ‘Meta’ widget – I learned very early on that if you don’t activate this widget after changing Themes, logging in to your blog can be challenging 🙂
I’ve already shared theclass flickr account with the children. This was set up a few years ago (for a previous class) but will allow the children to access photos from home. The weemee characters are saved on our ‘class share’ area, but this can onlybe accessed at school.
Google Reader helps me to keep track on what children are posting on their blogs. Subscribing to this means that I don’t need to check each individual blog to look for new posts.
Although there have only been a few class Glow Blog account logins assigned, I’m heartened by the results so far – especially from the boys. I’ll maybe need to re-think some of my original research 🙂
Well, I’ve been back in class for eight whole days now (five of those with the children) and it’s been a busy time! I’m with a Primary 6 stage class and one of my goals in coming back to class was to try to set up an ePortfolio for each child. I’d beenplaying around with the ideawhilst on secondment and couldn’t wait to try out the concept ‘for real’ and this post is hopefully going to help me to learn from what’s happened so far …… it’s been a rocky ride at times 🙂
During my secondment, I had the opportunity to work with a small group of children for a few afternoons and I helped them set up an ePortfolio (of sorts). Jaimey’s can be seen here . I decided on wikis over blogs, because I liked the idea that the children could put menus in the sidebar and have things neatly compartmentalised. I’d used wikis in the past with children, but mainly to allow them with a place to experiment with writing stories . I’d also previously provided children in my classes with individual blogs but wasn’t convinced that they were the best means available for the purpose – I’ve actually moved my thinking on and now see a place for both, but I’ll save that another post 🙂
So – what about my attempts so far in helping my class to build their ePortfolios? I began by introducing them to our class blog . Because it’s been on the go for about four years now, I was able to locate lots of examples of the benefits of class blogging – and I also told them about what happened when I gave children in previous classes their own individual online spaces and explained that I hoped to eventually give them their own blog , too. I’d spent some time during the summer setting these up via GLOW (I’d originally planned to use primaryblogger– a fantastic support for schools! – but then decided, for various reasons, to give the GLOW ones a try). I’d planned on giving everyone in the class a GLOW login anyway, so I decided to set their blogs up at the same time.
Here’s my step-by-step explanation – there are probably better/quicker ways?:
log in as pupil and go to ‘My Glow’
add the ‘Glow Blog’ web part
click on ‘Advanced Settings’ then ‘Go to Site Administration’
Go to ‘Manage Users’ then ‘Add Users’
Add own Glow username to the ‘choose users’ box and click on ‘administrator’ role
When email is received, click on the link, create the blog and set the permissions, etc.
After that, I am now a member (administrator) of every child’s blog and have customised them as I would have done with any other blog ……
On Saturday, I tried out the new blogging facility in Glow.
I admit that I was a bit perplexed at first because the dashboard seemed to have a lot less options that the ones I’m used to. However, I eventually managed to upload a picture and add some widgets to the sidebar – and I’ve even figured out how to customise the header, now 🙂
There’s no option to easily select font sizes and colours … and I spent ages trying to embed a Voki (it didn’t work!). John has since left a comment, though, explaining that both the images and the wysiwyg is a bit broken at the moment, but that “the glow guys have all summer to fix it ;-)”
I’ve also received three other comments on the trial blog. The first two were from Alan and Malcolm (a colleague from work) saying they were looking forward to seeing how I’ll use the blogs with my Primary 6 class next session. I haven’t replied to their comment, but although I’d love to use Glow Blogs, there would need to be changes/additions made. I know that changes are planned, though, because I also received a third comment from Andrew asking for feedback so that any necessary tweaks can be made over the summer…. so here’s my tuppence worth 🙂
At the moment, class teachers in Falkirk are using Primaryblogger and we’ve been spoiled by the super service they provide . Blogs need to be user-friendly because class teachers don’t have the time to spend hours trying to get them to do the things we need them to do. My new class won’t have experienced blogging before and it would put them off if it was too difficult.
It would be great to use Glow Blogs, though, so fingers crossed they can provide the things on my wishlist 🙂
My Wish List For Glow Blogs:
Can we please have more options on the Dashboard?
It’s not easy to figure out how to add widgets – and changing the custom header (on K2 theme) took me a long time. If there was an ‘Appearance’ option like this on (even just the widgets and custom header submenus) that would save loads of hastle.
Some classes have worked very hard and are very proud of their class blog. For example, my own Carronshore one has been on the go since 2006. It’s been looked after by others during my secondment …. and I know I’ll need to import Mrs Willianson’s art posts in to another blog for her, or she’ll just refuse to give it back to me! (it’s an edublogs blog as I’m a ‘supporter’ until 2048 – but that’s a long story!)
Would it be possible to have the option to import existing blogs into a new Glow Blog by the addition of the ‘Tools’ menu?
The blogs we are using at the moment offer the option of dragging over some very useful widgets to the sidebar. The ones shown in the image here are not normally available, but the people at primaryblogger have added them to the bank of available widgets.
I know that they could probably be added by teachers themselves using text widgets and some code, but the ‘drag and drop’ of custom made ones saves a lot of hastle – and they’re great teaching tools, too.
John mentioned in hisblog post that he’d like to see more storage space in the Glow blogs and demonstrated how quickly 10mb can be used up – even if images are resized. One of the great things about primaryblogger is the generous 1000 mb
Please fix the ‘Visual’ tab so that we can easily change font size/colour, and upload images
I’m presuming that this is something that the Glow RM Team are working to fix. I spent ages at the weekend trying to embed a Voki into a Glow Blog. Embedding slideshows, sound files, etc. is a very important part of blogging … especially if there’s a file upload limit.
I’m not sure why there are no page tabs showing in any of the themes I played around with. I was able to create pages, but the only way to see them was to activate the pages widget – once I found where the widgets were hiding 🙂
Well, that’s my wish list for Glow Blogs….. so far! I hope this post doesn’t read like an advert for Primaryblogger. I have used other blog hosts in the past, but there were always frustrations involved – and that’s what makes class teachers just give up on the whole idea of blogging with classes.
Primaryblogger’s John McLearhas always been very supportive, though, and has actually been in touch offering to help with the Glow Blog set-up. He mentioned that the main plugin used to simplify the primaryblogger interface is: Qwerty admin panel …all double-dutch to me, but it might be of some use to the folk at RM 🙂
I have less than 2 weeks left of my two year secondment as a Curriculum Support Teacher (the title has changed a few times since I first took up the post) and all the secondees who are leaving the team to return to class were asked to put together alumni presentations to share any changes/successes that we have influenced – or been part of – in our particular area of practice.
On Friday afternoon, the wider Curriculum Support Team members were treated to some very imaginative, fun activities such as: fairy stories; poems; games.
My own presentation probably seemed bland in comparison :-).
I chose to tell the story (as best I could) of a few of the changes I’ve made that I’m most proud of and I shared four of these …. there are more, but we only had 5 minutes 🙂
How it Began
I intended to begin my presentation by talking about what I’d been up to before I embarked on my secondment journey – but, as I missed out some of the important stuff, I’ll take this opportunity to add it here.
I don’t know how many applied, but there were 8? candidates interviewed. I must have said something to convince them that I was the right person for the job because I here I am two years on writing this blog post about my secondment. My main remit was to introduce others to any online resources that could improve the learning and teaching experience.
Success Number 1
The first success I talked about was the number of class blogs I’ve helped to create.
The screenshots on the powerpoint slide show just a small amount, and in some schools every class has their own blog.
I’ve also had lots of feedback from teachers telling me about the positive impact of having a class blog has had on their classroom practice.
The second success I mentioned was having had the opportunity to spread the news about the host of freely available online tools. These tools can greatly benefit both online and offline classroom learning. Digital Storytelling, active learning, parental involvement and collaboractive activities are just some of the areas they can help enhance.
Sharing how using simple inexpensive tools such as mp3 players with built in microphones or digital cameras can make a difference to the quality of the learning experience was made easier because I was able to demonstrate by showing real life examples from my own class blog (capably looked after by others until my return).
Success Number 3
The third success on my agenda, was the changes to Falkirk’s Virtual Teacher Centre (known as the VTC). Part of my original remit was to oversee the day-to-day management and maintenance of the website. As a class teacher, I wasn’t very familiar with the VTC. I knew that it had links to great resources, but as I could never remember the password, I opted to use Google searches or the LTS website instead.
I was aware from talking to other class teachers that the VTC was not the first port of call for them either when they were looking for online resources. I managed to persuade my new colleagues that it would be a better idea to have the VTC more accessible by taking away the need for a password.
As an added bonus, the Staff area of the VTC is now the default homepage for every primary school staff teacher in Falkirk – what a great vehicle for sharing news, websites, case studies, etc.
Success Number 4
My next choice for a ‘Success Story’ was the realisation half way through the secondment that teachers are not always the best recipients of CPD sessions. When I began hearing statements like:
“This looks great, but I’m not sure I could manage to do this with my class”
I offered to work directly with the children – this was very warmly received..
“Can you do that?”
.. was the typical response.
When she heard about this approach, my new line manager was convinced that this was the right path to take and gave me the ‘thumbs up’.
Working with a few students, and allowing them to become the ‘experts’ – who then spread their new knowledge to create other ‘experts’, who then spread their new knowledge …….
“When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority – and to others outwith the Authority – the first question I’m typically asked is : “So … what is an ePortfolio?”
I find the answer to this question difficult. I think it’s because when I first heard about the idea, I was so attracted to it that I began reading any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them) across.
1. What is an ePortfolio?:
It’s a collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements
2. What should they look like?
There should be evidence of self-reflection
3. What’s the teacher’s role?
They need to plan carefully to provide clearly defined criteria
Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey
4. What about the pupils?
Comments should go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.
The next question that I need to prepare for is: ” How do you manage something like that?”
Whilst on secondment, I’ve only been able to ’play around’ with the idea and I’m looking forward to trialling it ‘for real’ when I return to the classroom in August. I’ve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I’ve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I receive an email every time a change is made to one of them.”
Back to the Future
I’m really looking forward to seeing where my ePortfolio idea leads to when I try it out for real in the classroom.
The insert in my powerpoint presentation was a clip of Memoona talking about her view of an ePortfolio and what it means to her.
I’ve included the origional Voki here. She seems to have grasped the idea 🙂
Three primary 6 stage children from Nethermains visited Carronshore just before the Easter break. They wanted to know how to add a Voki and Photopeach slideshow to their new eportfolios. The picture here shows them concentrating as their ‘peer mentors’ demonstrated how to use the websites and then embed the completed efforts into their eportfolio. The class teacher had brought them along to see this for themselves. I’d already visited their school with a small group of Carronshore children to introduce them to the concept of eportfolios.
On both occasions I was struck by the genuine feeling of willingness to share and to listen (I think this picture and the ones below illustrate this?)
Here’s a picture taken when the Primary 6s from Carronshore explained the process involved when adding a voki to an eportfolios home page. I can’t remember which one was was displayed on the screen, but I think it was Jaimey’s .
The Nethermains group only had an hour with us, so it was a bit of a rush to help them to create their voki character and upload a personalised message to the site before embedding it into their new eportfolio.
These eportfolios are very much a ‘work in progress’ and won’t come to much without a lot of input from all involved. I know that when I return to class in August, the school management team will give me the freedom to set up an eportfolio experiment with my own class …. and this secondment has given me the opportunity to play around with the potential of reaching out to others in the authority.
On reflection, setting up these eportfolios is the result of a journey that started with a class blog – which then led to me giving children in my class their own online spaces (and voices) .
I hope I’ll be adding some more to ‘The Story of the Carronshore Blog’ soon …..