Monday, December 9, 2019

An Unlikely Partnership: ePortfolios from a Fresh Lens

ePortfolios are a platform for showcase, goal setting, and reflection in every grade and on each campus in Northwest ISD. While the platform and benefits of having an ePortfolio are similar for everyone, the why, design, and purpose of the ePortfolio will change based on the student’s age, goals, and target audience. This is why the virtual and time flexible Hughes ES and Steele HS ePortfolio partnership has been both beneficial and mind blowing for our students!

Students in Mrs. Champion’s 5th grade GT class and Coach Hayes' CTE classes were put into a collaborative Google Slides with an assigned partner. Fifth grade kicked off this partnership by first examining their own ePortfolio and recognizing specific areas in which they’d like feedback (Quality of Content, Web Design/Organization, or Personalization).

Collaborative Google Slides 

After doing some introspective work, students explored their partner’s high school ePortfolio. They took notes and then provided written feedback in slides and verbal feedback via Flipgrid. The written feedback allowed students to narrow their focus into a few sentences, while the video feedback allowed students to get to know and encourage their partner. Flipgrid allowed students to have a relevant audience outside of their classroom, school, and grade. It was fun for students to hear from someone that was looking at their ePortfolio with a fresh and new perspective.

The Lifelong Skill of Giving and Receiving Feedback 
Not only did students learn get inspiration and ideas for improving their ePortfolio, but they also learned how to give and receive feedback. Feedback should be specific, constructive, and align with their partner’s goals.  Both giving and receiving feedback via Flipgrid helped students polish the lifelong skill of working alongside others for continual improvement.  Even the high school students appreciated a fresh set of eyes. In fact, Steele Senior George Peterson states, “I enjoyed learning about my strengths and weaknesses. It's very refreshing to hear feedback from somebody outside my personal and professional bubbles because I know it's very objective. This is an opportunity for me to apply the feedback and grow from it.” Charlotte (Hughes ES) adds, "I've learned from my Steele buddy that I can always improve. Some people don't appreciate feedback, but Jordan has given me some GREAT suggestions!"

The Vulnerability of Sharing a “Work in Progress” 
Students, and even adult learners have been conditioned to work on a product until it has reached “turn in” status before sharing with others. It takes vulnerability, confidence, and humility to share a “work in progress.” While we do want to reach a “publish” point with our ePortfolio, this process has been refreshing for students to have a partner that wants to meet them right where they are. This has been an amazing opportunity to learn about continual improvement.  Parker Younger (Junior at SAHS) comments, “From this partnership I have learned that my ePortfolio is always changing. After my Hughes partner gave me their feedback, I realized that even the smallest details about my life could and should in included in my ePortfolio. These details help to make my ePortfolio personalized and professional.” Isaac (Hughes ES) has truly appreciated the feedback that he has received and is excited to take next steps in making his ePortfolio even better. He states, “By the end of 5th grade, I hope to have added an elementary school recap to show how much I have learned and changed. I have received some feedback that has really helped me like making a school studies tab, instead of having all of my subjects jumbled around in my ePortfolio." 

It's been inspiring for Hughes students to see the possibilities that lie ahead for their ePortfolio. The didn't feel intimidated by their partner, but rather encouraged to take next steps knowing that they have year to perfect their site. Isaac emphasizes this point in his feedback when he records,"First of all, your ePortfolio looks really good. I really hope that mine might be like that someday." 

What’s Next for These Students? 
This experience was such a beneficial process for both the elementary and high school classes. As a result, Mrs. Champion and Coach Hayes have decided to continue the same process for a round two of feedback starting December 19th. It will be powerful for students to have the accountability of updating their ePortfolio and using the feedback they've been given. Students have also been asking about opportunities to meet their partner in person. Teachers are working to find an opportunity for students to meet up in the spring for a round robin type ePortfolio showcase where they can see a variety of ePortfolios and the growth that has been made. You may even see some of these partnerships at Expo 2020 in February!

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