Day 39 (of 188) reflecting on eportfolios
After having a few days to reflect, I am very happy with the discussion and feedback from our joint presentation on our schools journeys away from report cards and towards eportfolios. Here is the ‘short version’:
Our focus was to acknowledge the name debate: some like some hate the term eportfolio. But we have always been in agreement, it’s more about what you do with it than what you name it!
My own journey has had me on report card committees and involvement into deconstructing and reconstructing the 100+ year old device called “report cards” – my final ‘RC’ as a full time teacher that I submitted to my principal was photo based. He loved it, but we weren’t ready yet – neither with the technology for it to be done ‘by all with ease’ nor for the greater public to take a big leap. 6 years later, we are more than ready.
In part, the biggest support came from the ministry who changed our emphasis from “reporting student achievement” to “communicating Student Learning” (there were flames in the transition – it looked really sharp!)
I also got to blame genetics – my father was a radical (microwaves in foods rooms! shocking – computers replacing typewriters! fad) and for months before I was born, he was doing research into the unnamed controversy that should be better talked about: grading
And this summer I had a realization: I was not looking for a better report card. I (we) needed (and found) something ‘different’.
But the ‘shift’ wasn’t done in isolation – our school learning community had MANY conversations.
Likewise Kyle had been heavily involved in committee work and discussions throughout his district. And a year ago, we met and started chatting at BCPVPAs Connecting Leaders. We both had a plot that was able to get rolling.
He, like me, thought that we should be able to do ‘better’.
Not that it would be easy. We knew that.
And our staffs agreed. ePortfolios are not ‘easier’ than report cards; they are different. They should be. They need to be.
Kyle and his school started with one company (springboard) but after it closed, the teachers have explored a variety of tools (including evernote and others) including their local website provider: Scholantis.
My staff started exploring a variety of options (including evernote, keynote & more) but ended up using Freshgrade – a local okanagan company. But we both agree – the discussion needs to be focused on the process, not the tool. It was also voluntary. Nobody was forced to do it (well, maybe my partner teacher, but she liked the concept too!) This took away some of the stress and pressure; knowing as a pilot school we would likely make mistakes along the way and that was okay.
and it isn’t hard. I read this statement recently and it resonated. Change is uncomfortable, it can require a mind shift, but it isn’t “hard”.
and at the end of the day, I know which student I would want operating on me….
I no longer want a good report card. I really want to help facilitate the communication of student learning.
Our Goal: 3 years. Why? My daughter enters grade 12 in 3 short years. I’d really like it to be report card free. What’s that? What about university? UBC is looking at portfolios. So does Harvard. Almost every post-secondary institute has ‘alternate ways to get in’ – they’re just not heavily advertised. I’m confident that my oldest girl can continue her learning for as long as she wants. I worry that report cards will continue to make her focus more on the task-completion than the learning journey which eportfolios communicate so much more effectively.
Debates & questions always enjoyed!