Tag Archive | assessment

ePortfolios and Transition Stages

My last post ended with a remark about what the future holds for for our class emerging ePortfolios. I was delighted that Jaye Richards took the time to write an indepth comment to the post shortly after reading it – it was Jaye, after all, who inadvertently led me to the concept of ePortfolios via twitter … and I’ve been sold on the idea ever since 🙂

 I made an attempt to reply to her comment but after reading her follow-up blog post on the subject and her thought-provoking accounts of her own experiences, I decided that another blog post on here was the best way to reply. She got me thinking about the stumbling blocks that have been encountered when children I’ve taught in the past have moved on to High School. I also went on a trip down memory lane this evening and experienced (again) some of the frustrations that Jaye talks about in her post.  I’ll quote from Maryam’s transition blog posts to try to demonstrate what I mean.

  • Towards the end of primary 7 at Carronshore, Maryam wrote on her blog” My favourite thing ever is English. I love reading and writing. They are the only two things that are important too me. I have been writing quite alot of posts about reading and writing, well i just love writing and stuff. …. I can’t wait to get to high school  to ask my English teacher for advice for getting really good ideas. “
  • In this blog post she describes the excitement as her entry to High School looms ever closer: “I can’t believe we have finished primary school already! Its a bit quick. Well we still have a couple of weeks left of school but it doesn’t feel like it. We are finally the oldest in Primary school but now we will be back to the youngest in high school. That’ll be a bit hard. I’m looking forward too all the new lessons there and making new friends and stuff. I just cab’t wait for tommorow.”
  • Maryam is now in 1st year at high school (last term):  “I thought i would go on my blog just for old times sake. High school has been SOOO weird. It’s like i have been there all my life and not been to primary school once, but i have not forgotten primary school, I MISS IT SO MUCH. We have been doing all sorts of stuff and we have had sooo much .. drama? I think that is the word for it. It has been so BIZZARE. I have just chosen my subjects before the easter holidays. It was kind of depressing.”
  •  Her final post on her blog was when she entered 2nd year (she’s already regretting her subject choice) “So yes, it has been almost a month of school and i am in second year. It is alot harder than i thought, well kind of. I did choose the subjects i wanted , [i still regret picking some of them]!”

Maryam’s posts dried up soon after this, but her experience of her transition to High School echo the thoughts in Jaye’s post  when she wrote:

 “my old school is now making children choose their examinable subjects two thirds of the way through S1 !!

If I had my way, they wouldn’t even get ‘distinct’ subjects until S3…”


Anyway – back to my post title! –  ePortfolios and Transition Stages.


I’m hoping that the ePortfolios might succeed where the blogs alone failed. Maybe if the children know that the purpose of them is to demonstrate progress in their learning journey, then the responsibility for the upkeep and the freedom to choose what is included would enhance the feeling of ownership. The wikis seem to accommodate the ‘growth’ aspect more than a blog (even with tagging, etc).

I love the way Kian has already set his pages up for Primary 7 and his transition to High School.  All the children choose their own layout and this one obviously made more sense to him.

I also really like his ‘Life Achievement’ section – others have used this phrase when referring to their ePortfolios. Check out Alyson’s ‘sticky’ post on her Glow Blog 🙂

Click on the loveheart to see my ePortfolio.I have all my achievements  inside and outside school!!!

(All my achievement through out my life) Fingers cross it works!!!

I also really like Andrew’s ePortfolio layout. He felt it was important to include a page with links to his favourite Glow Blog posts:

I have a blog as well as this ePortfolio. Click here to visit it. I am going to put some of my favourite blog posts in this section of my ePortfolio. So use the links in the banners below to view my best blog posts.

 christmas post.gif

 winter report.gif


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The children are already asking questions about what will happen to their Glow Blogs and Wikis when they move on to Primary 7 and then on to High School.

Ideally, I’d like to support them for one more year to continue to provide feedback …… but that’s not for me to decide 🙂 

Feedback is a very important ingredient if an ePortfolio is to succeed. It’s mostly oral in Primary, but the wikis have a comment facility that could be used by Secondary staff in S1 and beyond?

Too many questions still unanswered – time to publish 🙂

Glow Blogs and Wikis – A Closer Look

There’s been a lull on here of late because I’ve been taking time to observe what’s been happening with our individual class Glow Blogs  and Glow Wikis. I’m hoping that the process of writing this blog post will everything intp perspective 🙂

Our Individual Blogs

@cpsprimary6v usually update their Glow blogs from home, rather than at school. I think there are two main reasons for this:

  • We have two hours a week in our school computer suite – and the children need to share the 16 machines (it’s a class of 30) – we have been known to beg, steal and borrow it at other times, too, but there are so many exciting things to do there, that there is rarely time to put on blog posts :-). We have a computer in the class, but that’s usually taken up with other things such as AR Reading and Smartboard use
  • From the outset, I made the decision not to dictate how the children used their blogs. I’ve blogged before about the importance of a feeling of ownership if online spaces are to be sustainable. There have been lots of great posts made from home and we always share them in class. This has inspired others to write their own blog posts – and even just reading them out aloud has helped the writers and the listeners to think about how they might improve their writing. One very recent example for me of a feeling of ownership was when Mason chose to share his experience of travelling to Qatar to visit his dad  great 🙂

Our Individual Wikis

The growth of our Glow wikis has been slower. The children understood the blog ‘Online Diary’ concept but building an ePortfolio is much more complex and I’ve been taking a closer look to see what’s happening. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that there has been evidence of:

  • Gathering evidence of Learning and Achievement – For example, Robyn posted her Burns’ poetry comptetition entry and continued to update her Glow wiki from home. Have a look/listen – Robyn’s ePortfolio .

I was also very impressed last week when Andrew  suggested that he could add his thoughts about his love of books to his ePortfolio. He wrote:

“I have always loved reading and I have a card for the local library. At school we do a thing called AR Reading. It’s where you take a test at the start of the year and get given a level. You then choose a book from our school within that level and read it. Once you have read it you take a test about the book on a computer at school. You then print out a sheet showing your result. You have a big jotter where you record what books you have read and score you got on the tests. I am on the highest level for AR Reading, and I enjoy it.”

  • Showing evidence of how learning has progressed – reflecting on learning – Andrew  wrote about his attitude to maths and how he has “.. enjoyed maths from Primary 1 and have always tried hard in it. I find the work I do fun and I learn new things all the time. My favourite thing in math is long multiplication. My mum and dad taught me how to do long multiplication in P4. I can do most things I have been taught in math but there is a few things I could improve on. I mainly struggle on Rotational Symmetry, but I don’t think you will need to know that in life.”

            Charlotte also showed evidence of reflecting when she wrote about how she found it hard to work with someone else on a task – “Well at first we  could not agree on an idea but then we finally came to a compromise that we would combine both our ideas.”

What I’ve learned

I think allowing the children to use their Glow blogs and wikis in this way has provided me with evidence for assessment – I’ve seen a closer ‘snapshot’ of who they are. The children have shown evidence of achievements both inside and outside of school. Anna’s example is typical of an outside school achievement:

…..”We did our floor routine’s first. The judge would judge us on how slowly and neatly our routines were done. After that it was the volt. What I did was run, and then jump on a spring board, then land in squat jump onto the volt and then straight jump off. One of our coaches were compeeting. Then it was the award ceremony. It was team points. I kept saying to Alyson ‘ Were never going to win because we have 2 people and they have 3 or 4 ‘. In the award ceromony it was the 1-3 resuts, then 4-5 and then my one 6-7. I wasn’t even listening when the man called out the results because there was no chance we had one a medal because only the 3rd, 2nd and 1st got a medal. I heard the man say ‘Alyson’. It was then that I relised we had one a bronze medal! …”

… I’m already filling my head with more questions – I wonder what will happen to their ePortfolios in Primary 7 … and the S1 transition period. Hopefully they will survive as it’s the children themselves who are ‘in the driving seat’ 🙂



A Brief Look at Building the Curriculum 5


The learning and Teaching website’s section on Building the Curriculum 5 : A Framework for Assessment states that:

“Building the Curriculum 5 – A Framework for Assessment is the next step in providing support for staff as they implement Curriculum for Excellence. It provides an outline of the approaches to assessment to support the purposes of learning 3 to 18.”

Last week, we worked in groups to try to familiarise ourselves with the document. Each group member looked at a different section and tried to summarise the main points. I looked at the section on How We Assess and I’m going to publish my summary here. Others  might condense the chapter differently, but I’m putting it on here in the hope that it will be more accessible in the future should I ever wish to revisit my own first thoughts about the  document.

How We Assess

  • A variety of approaches and range of evidence should be employed. These should dependent on the activity, but also on the learners’ preferences. Learners should be able to show their thinking and provide evidence
  • Assessment should be fit for purpose. it should be valid, reliable and proportionate … and it shouldn’t be so much of a burden that it takes away from the learning and teaching time
  • Assessment should: demonstrate learners’ understanding; confirm progress within school; provide information for other partners; supply information for use beyond school (exams. etc.?)
  • When designing discussions, tasks, activities, etc., it is important to obtain evidence from inside and outside school. Sources may be: observations; records (e.g. oral); information (e.g. dialogue and questioning; writte; product; accounts by others (peers, parents, staff, etc.)
  • Assessment needs to be carefully planned for interdisciplinary learning and records must be kept but it must be manageable and practicable within day to day teaching
  • A section on the SQA describes how National 4 and National 5 will replace Standard grade exams. Access, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications will be revised. New Literacy and numeracy qualifications are being developed from S3 onwards – these will be awarded on the basis of a portfolio and will initially involve input from the SQA who will award grades.

When the group got together to share our respective summaries, one thing that stood out was the repetitive messages included in the document. There were 5 members in the group, and on quite a number of occassions voices could be heard saying, “Yes, that’s much the same messages I got from reading my section.” Despite the repetitiveness, I agreed with the sentiments.

We then looked at how we might put this in to practice and were given a scenario so that we could assess an aspect of  Literacy.  After some discussion we looked at emerging approaches to assessment . These come with a ‘warning’ message: 

“However, in their day-to-day practice, practitioners would not be expected to document the assessment process for all learners in this kind of detail. It will be up to local authorities and establishments to decide how evidence of learning is to be captured, evaluated and used to inform next steps in learning and teaching.”

 We also looked at specific examples.  

I began to wonder that, as it’s just not possible to provide that much detail about each student’s learning without compromising learning and teaching time, might we end up going back to paying lip-service to assessment (PLP’s, Self-assessment, Peer-assessment, etc.)?

What if they were allowed (encouraged/trusted/guided?) to assess their own learning via  ePortfolios?

Too many questions …. and I’ve gone off on one of those ‘blue sky thinking’ tangents again – time to publish 🙂

MIICE Conference Thoughts

Last year I wrote a blog post about my introduction to MIICE (Measurement of the Impact of ICT on Children’s Education). Before being seconded, I’d never heard of the MIICE partnership and I wondered if that was the same for other classroom teachers. At today’s conference in Dundee, however, there were eleven classroom teachers present – so maybe things are changing? I really enjoyed listening to the presenters and I scribbled down some notes as they spoke. I’m now summarising them in this blog post because I think they’ll give me ideas to use in my own classroom practice when I return to school in August – hopefully it will be just a case of searching on here to refresh my memory instead of wading through piles of crumpled paper 🙂 These are my interpretations of what the presenters said, though, so I apologise if  I’ve misconstrued the intended messages.

One of the main purposes of the conference was that the attendees would “hear a range of experiences of dealing with the issues associated with measuring the impact of using ICT as part of the learning and teaching processes“.

  • The first speaker was Donna Bullivant, a class teacher from Cowie Primary School. Donna spoke about how she had used a range of ICT strategies to improve literacy across learning. She began with her use of Endless Ocean and the opportunities that were created for improving writing. Parents were invited to afternoon workshops led by the children. Students from Stirling University visited the class to talk about their diving experiences. The children even had the opportunity to interview a marine biologist. Donna’s message was that it wasn’t just about using the game – but about the many varied activities that were able to be ‘tapped into’ as a result. Donna also spoke about her experience of using Animation with the class. The topic was the Highland Clearances and the children were divided in to ‘families’ who then used storyboarding to tell the stories. She had learned from a previous experience of using Animation that it was important not to get too involved in designing the scenery. Donna decided to focus on simple 2D props because she didn’t want to take away the emphasis from the main learning which was to improve literacy. The class concentrated on script writing – the setting, the characters, and the dialogue. After that was in place, they got to act out the scenes. An important part of the process was the opportunity to showcase the learning. They even had an Oscar ceremony, all planned by the children themselves.
  • Maggie Irving from Argyll and Bute Council opened with this video clip then spoke about the website she has created with loads of ideas for using ICT to support Curriculum for Excellence. She was a very entertaining speaker, but was brimming with common sense advice for taking learning in to the 21st century – even using a simple thing like a digital camera to help children record their understanding of basic concepts such as nouns and verbs. Another great idea was to allow the children to create a forward plan for a class topic. The construction of a large wallchart with movable blu-tack icons is certainly something I’m going to try when I return to class in August.
  • Ian Simpson, a teacher of computing at Inverurie Academy told us about his experience of using Little Big Planet with his S5/6 Intermediate 2 class. He talked about a 4 term project that culminated in a growth of confidence in the students who were involved – and this, in turn, may have led to their improved exam results. In term 3 of the project, the High School students held mock interviews to elect a ‘development team’ – the primary 1 children were the ‘clients’. We were shown an example of one of the levels that was created and 3 brave volunteers even played the game ‘live’ during the conference. It was great fun to watch 🙂 I’m going to take some time to have a closer look at what else is on Ian’s blog.

This blog post just gives a very small flavour of the conference – but at least I wrote some of it down here and I’m sure I’ll be referring to this post for practical ideas next session.

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Ever since Jaye Richards  introduced me to the idea of ePortfolios on twitter , I’ve been contemplating how this might be the way forward for a whole variety of  things (peer assessment, self assesment, personal learning plans, motivated learners, CV’s … the list seems endless to me). 

The first blog post I wrote about the subject has been followed up by a whole host of others – but yesterday I thought to myself that I’d laboured the point for long enough and it was now to focus my (blog) thoughts on other issues. ……… So why is this blog post going to focus on ePortfolios??

Two events happened today to convince me that the subject was worth revisiting yet again.

  • The first one was a visit to Larbert High School where I stepped in to the shoes of a High School English teacher. I’m trained in Primary, so it was a bit daunting as I waited for the first class to arrive. I wondered if it might resemble a scene from To Sir With Love  – it was actually quite the opposite 🙂  The class were there for two periods and the time was used to revise for the fast approaching Higher exam. After the first hour, I thought they might appreciate a short break and I offered to show them a snapshot of the ePortfolio ideas I’ve been experimenting with. Just on a whim, I asked if any of them would be willing to record their thoughts about the suggestion of students at their level having an ePortfolio. I was delighted when four of them told me that they’d spend 5 minutes of their break recording their thoughts on a little mp3 player with a built in microphone (I happened to have a few of them in my bag from a CPD session I’d delivered the previous evening). I was delighted when they knocked on the staffroom door during the break to say that they’d done just that! They gave me their permission to put it on here (I got the impression that all four had spoken, but I could only find the extract below – hopefully i’ll see the class again tomorrow and clarify this) 



ePortfolios and Assessment

When I first stumbled upon the idea of using ePortfolios, I wrote that this would be my new recommendation when teachers ask about giving children their own online space. Since then, I’ve spent a few afternoons (3 or maybe 4, I think?) trying to ‘sell’ the idea to to a few Primary 6 stage in Carronshore Primary School. I chose these particular children because I suspected that I’d be welcomed in the school – and I knew that they were already familiar with some of the online tools available to help them tell the story of their learning journey.

I worked with six children (3 girls and 3 boys). During my first visit I tried to explain the advantages of having an ePortfolio. However, researching lots of  published information is one thing – but how do you convey that to 9/10 year olds? After I’d spent some time trying to get the message over in a way I hoped they’d understand, I asked them to go off with one of the school’s mp3 players with a built in microphone and produce a welcome message for their (so far empty wiki shell) ePortfolio. The children were familiar with the voki site and were able to create their characters and then upload their own mp3 file.

Here’s Maryam’s voki – unfortunately voki.com was down at the time of writing this post, but I have a desktop version that I’ve uploaded elsewhere. I’ve learned to be prepared 🙂


 I was satisfied that they had grasped the general idea and during my next few visits we discussed and planned more aspects of the ePortfolios, such as what pages to include and what the content should look like.  But, of course, building an ePortfolio is a long process and we’ve barely scratched the surface …. but it is a start 🙂 I’ll put a page on the Carronshore blog with links to the ePortfolios.

Meanwhile here’s a link to Jaimey’s ePortfolio.


 eport post



 I’m pleased that the Art Department of the local High School are keen to be involved and have asked me along to their next departmental meeting to talk about the experiment. It would be great if the discussion area of the ePortfolios could have input from them (at the moment, it’s just the children themselves – and me).

I was also asked to go along to talk  to the L.A. Assessment Group today. I wasn’t sure what their knowledge was. I made a powerpoint presentation to try to show what I’ve learned about ePortfolios so far. I even tried to ‘wow’ them by uploading it to prezi as well 🙂

Here’s the presentation. I hope they ‘got’ it?