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Monday, March 24, 2014

The "E" in ePortfolio

When ePortfolios were introduced during the GT PLC last fall, Marcie Conrad (click on link to follow on Twitter) immediately saw the benefit it would have for her students.  Mrs. Conrad, GT Teacher at JCThompson Elementary, is a trailblazer when it comes to providing her students the most innovative and engaging learning environment.  When you observe her with her students their is a constant buzz of enthusiasm, excitement and energy.  Additionally, she constantly, through every opportunity, is coaching students with their personal choices, short term goals, long term plans and life-long passions.

When ePortfolios were launched on the secondary campuses and by choice at the elementary campuses, Mrs. Conrad saw this as the trifecta of learning. After some initial planning and consulting with her I.T. coach she was ready to launch. Like all great instruction, she introduced the “why” of portfolios.  It was not long before her students, who only see her a limited amount of time, were finding every reason to come down and work on their ePortfolios in her class. They eagerly worked on it at both home and at school.

Every aspect of the Google site involved student choice.  The students determined what work was “ePortfolio” worthy, understood that showcased work could go beyond the academic day, and reflected both on their own work and their peers’ work. Mrs. Conrad gently coaching and facilitating as they moved forward in the process.

Before too long they had ePortfolios they were not only proud of, but were becoming the talk of other GT teachers and educators taking the same journey.

Her enthusiasm, excitement and energy to facilitate the journey of ePortfolios was effective. Why? Because her students embraced the ePortfolios as their own and were equally enthusiastic, excited and energetic about the ePortfolio they had crafted and the products they had selected to showcase.

It was effective because in all parts it was reflective.  At every turn students were sharing their ideas and plans for their ePortfolios, then in the same motion would suddenly pause and ask themselves was their idea truly “ePortfolio worthy.”

How was this done?  It seems that the following quote best captures the practice in Mrs. Conrad’s class, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”-James Levin

Through this experience students met challenges, learned to embed pictures, upload files, create tabs, create links, etc.  Most was done with students helping students, with support from Mrs. Conrad and the I.T. coach.  What resulted was excellence and a futuristic mindset.  Now when ePortfolios are discussed there is always a mention of how what presently is done will impact the future. All of it student-led.

Mrs. Conrad and the I.T. coach knew there was potential and possibility with ePortfolios.  What has been realized is far beyond what they even imagined.  When possibility is wrapped in enthusiasm, excitement, and energy there is no other option than to be effective. How ePortfolios was embraced and executed by the Students on their own drive and force was far more effective because Mrs. Conrad and the I.T. coach shared the vision, but let the students determine the path to excellence.

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