e-Portfolios at Last

Festive e-Portfolio Building

I've been wanting to do e-Portfolios (ePortfolios? E-Portfolios? I don't know if we've arrived at a standard spelling yet) with students for years. Thanks to the third grade teachers at Richmond Elementary School, and Google's recently released "New Google Sites," we decided this would be a good time to just do it.

I'll tell you right now it was very successful - for three reasons. Probably more than that really but I like the rule of threes.

1) Planning with teachers. We thought about it before implementing, looking at example pages I constructed, discussed the options and considered the benefits and limitations of the New Google Sites. This led to...

2) Starting small but keeping the vision. Our original plan was to have a page for each subject area. We decided it was more reasonable to just have an "About Me" page and a "3rd Grade" page where we would put some of the students' most important work - and (this is key) short reflection statements next to the work. We have a vision for a potentially more expanded use, but this was a reasonable target for us.

The plan was simple - each classroom would receive about 40 minutes of instruction on creating a Google Site with a bare bones setup mentioned above. After this, students could begin customizing it while retaining the structure needed to make the e-Portfolio meaningful.

3) The students and teachers. Here's why.

"Aww, I look cute."

For the initial instruction, I showed students this example. By the end, this is basically what each of them ended up with as well.

Page 1

Page 2

Then I left.

Two days later, I came back. I saw this:

PDFs and Google Slide examples! (Side note: great hand placement for efficient typing.)

And this:

The pieces on the left can be expanded to be more easily read. The reflection on the right is a text box.

And this:

Embedding the VoiceThread doesn't work (yet), so the student linked to it.

Just look at that. How did they make them look so beautiful? Certainly, it is a testament to how easily New Google Sites can be used (3rd graders are making these web pages!) but the tool itself is not the story here.

Tonya Darby, one of the third grade teachers, explained it to me excitedly in the hallway saying something like this:

"The portfolios are looking so great. Students just started experimenting and helping each other. I might send a couple to the other third grade rooms to teach students some tips."

In a matter of two or three class periods, students constructed something meaningful and relevant to themselves and their learning. No wonder Mrs. Darby seemed so excited. If you didn't read those short reflection paragraphs above, read them. You'll see the power of this idea.

Not only that, but this was enhancing communication and collaboration between students. They took great pleasure in helping each other. Watching them, students weren't simply sitting behind a screen. They were listening to each other, getting up to see what someone else had done, reaching over to lend someone a hand or point something out.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how these e-Portfolios evolve.


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