Y is for….

Y for Yes
Yes…April is really right around the corner. Yes…Cohort21 really does end in a few short weeks.  And yet I am nowhere near ready to see this professional development experience end.  So, this blog post is an update of  where I am in this learning journey so far.

My action plan continues to focus on how student reflection can generate data of learning and growth over time.  Here are a few more details about how my plan has taken shape.  Five skills were selected as the tools to measure learning and growth in grade 5-8 classes, and they served as the framework for gathering evidence (artifacts of learning) that students showcased in their individual e-portfolio. These skills were communication, work ethic, teamwork, networking and individual and peer learning.  Students and teachers spent one month exploring each skill to develop a depth of understanding and experience as well as a high level of student ownership and confidence.

The e-portfolio has been a wonderful tool to empower students to make connections between their use of specific skills and their learning experience, all in a self-directed manner. (Admittedly, the self-directed part has grown and evolved since the start, but we are well underway at this point in time).   The girls have enjoyed making their e-portfolio into a digital tool that reflects who they are and how they learn, and the self-selection of artifacts of learning has been a key part in this empowerment and ownership.

Over the last few weeks, I have been working specifically on the data piece of this action plan. I have been gathering information, including survey results (from students & teachers) as well as one-on-one interviews with several students and teachers, all of which provided me with more information on the personal experiences as well as overall student and teacher perspectives on the process and the tools.

Here are a few early observations & learning moments in my action plan so far:

  • The girls continue to demonstrate their fearless potential to explore and immerse in new technologies, regardless of their age. There is abundant creativity evident in their original products.
  • [Almost] all of the students are eager to share their work and their learning connections with each other.  There is a lot of learning to be explored in this part of the program too!
  • A next step involves considering how to build in more meaningful peer-to-peer sharing time throughout this e-portfolio process.  This will be key for the end of the program in May and moving ahead for next year
  • The teachers see the value in the standards based discussion of learning skills. One Teacher shared that she uses these standards as conversation tools (as the situation arises in her classroom) so that she can help the girls to make meaningful connections between these skills and their overall learning experience – yeah!
  • This experience has generated meaningful conversation around the purpose and value of both tech tools and learning skills as central components of the learning environment, prompting the start of planning for a specific advisor program curriculum for next year.

I look forward to seeing where the end result of this action plan will go, specially as explained through the products and voices of the girls who were engaged in this learning process.  I am also eager to see the end results of the collaborative efforts of where this idea can go as we work to build some specific advisor curriculum and programming with the teachers for next year.

Until then, your thoughts and ideas are always appreciated. Where could you see this project growing next?

3 comments to “Y is for….”
  1. Hi Christina,
    Glad to hear that you have had such positive experiences with the e-portofolios. What platform are you using? We have found our students to be quite resistant to “blogging” but perhaps we need a new tool and/or a new way to frame the activity. Also, can you tell us more about how the e-portfolio was rolled out? Was it in a specific class, or through advisers or in another way? I look forward to learning more about your experience on Friday.

    I like how you are making a concerted effort to gather feedback and data from both students and teachers – an important part of the “empathize” area of the design process!

    See you Friday,

  2. Hi Christina,

    It was great to read this post, as much of what you are exploring, I am also investigating in my practice this year. Crafting an authentic and rich portfolio experience for students is challenging work, but the pay offs can be extraordinary!

    Speaking to your question about meaningful peer-to-peer sharing was something my team and I also wanted to figure out. Our answer was to create small “support sisters” groups: they are 3-4 people and we started building community and trust within these small groups in January. These groups keep each other accountable to their work on the blogs and they comment on each other’s progress through the year. Because some of the portfolio entries are intimate / vulnerable / share sensitive details, we wanted the girls to feel safe taking these risks in their reflections, while still capitalizing off the power of peer-to-peer learning / feedback.

    Also, I just shared the portfolio journey at Sterling Hall’s “Unconference” in March. These were the slides I put together for the talk: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1dV6bIHSKAYEnQQc3ofQ7pXpIN7Qayk1M_NqmJw6amB0/edit?usp=sharing Perhaps they will help spark an idea or two on your end!

    • Hi Celeste,

      Thanks for your ongoing support and encouragement! I enjoyed viewing your Blogfolio journey and I appreciate your focus on the growth mindset as a key element in the “how am I getting better” part of the learning process. I agree that this is central to the plan. It will be a part of our program moving forward next year — we were able to identify this gap in our model this year, but didn’t want to build too quickly to ensure we didn’t turn the students off the experience. Did your students engage in the peer-support (support-sisters) with ease, or did this component require scaffolding and models? I ask as I am wondering about how the students engage with their peer’s share-sensitive information, including details and thoughts that they may never see or hear about otherwise.

      Looking forward to seeing you next week at the last F2F!
      Take care,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *