SOL 7: the summer of eportfolios
Even during summer I find myself continually talking eportfolios.
This week one of my teachers and I chatted at a swim team practice while our daughters were practicing flip-turns. She commented how much she enjoyed the shift to eportfolios this past year. Our use of the @freshgrade app specifically, helped her focus on “communicating student learning” in ways that “reporting student achievement” via report cards never could. Her final comment: “I’m not going back [to report cards]”. The quick capture feature of the app allows her (or her students) to document their learning via photo or video and allows her to add comments or descriptive feedback when time allows and when appropriate. Whether it was a photo of an individuals poem or a video of the class doing zoomba, the app always ‘just worked’ so that she and her class could focus on the learning.
Having three children herself, she (as with the many other moms on our staff!) appreciated receiving the varied amount of examples of student learning and the accompanying descriptive feedback. As our PAC president said the day after she saw her sons eportfolio, “it showed me more about him than any piece of paper I ever got” (referring to her older boys report cards). It was also able to be shared with family members not-at-home at the time (working out of town) immediately! Even though BC ended the year with job action and most families did not receive a traditional report card, our parents saw samples of their child’s work (including many connected to BCs Performance Standards) right up until what ended up being our final day of school.
The conversations continued when I bumped into a teacher who has applied for a position at our school – her enthusiasm for potentially using eportfolios was ‘very encouraging’! Similar conversations about eportfolios were had at the recent ShortCourse for BC PVPs at UBC; where one vice-principal wished a tool like FreshGrade was available two years earlier when he was still teaching! Another principal and myself also ‘compared notes’ as we prepare a presentation for an upcoming conference where we will share our two schools different journeys towards eportfolios and focusing on formative, rather than summative assessments.
It’s strange. No other summer have I talked about a communication-tool for student learning so much! I’ve used a variety of report cards, but they’ve never stirred up as much discussion about…learning. While there is great interest in the tool we are using, the better conversations have been about learning being shared at homes; where parents and their children are not counting letters & numbers, but instead talking about the samples of actual work that have been archived via the eportfolio.
It’s nice having summer conversations shift from “how many As & Bs (or 4s) on your report card?” to “let’s look at what you learned this year”.