What is the relationship between school and learning? As a high school educator, I think that many students believe that high test scores and high grades equate to learning. When students are asked to show evidence of learning, they often point to grades and test scores.
Imagine a student trying to convey learning through test scores and grades. Perhaps that student might produce a resume that looks something like this:
This resume might be useful when sifting through hundreds or thousands of applicants–the grades and scores make it easy to categorize students. But although the resume shows high grades and high test scores, it doesn’t really convey what the student has learned. It doesn’t do much to show how this student is different from all the others. It doesn’t really convey the student’s learning story.
Simply put, a digital portfolio is a website that students use to share their learning. When I promote digital portfolios, I do so from the belief that student learning is increased when…
- …students describe what they have learned.
- …students offer evidence from their work demonstrating that they have learned.
- …students reflect on how they learned.
A digital portfolio is a student’s personal learning story. When students are empowered to tell that learning story, the result is so much richer than a test score or a GPA. Those measures fail to convey what we should honor most as educators: learning.
Let’s say that you’re part of a school that has decided to give digital portfolios a try. You want to empower students to tell their own learning stories. You want students to share their learning with the world! You have teachers asking students to demonstrate learning through adding to their digital portfolios. Students are thinking deeply about what they have learned and how to best convey that learning through their digital portfolios. How will your school share all this learning? This is my current project. I’ve even made a little video showing how my school is doing when it comes to sharing learning through digital portfolios.
At the 2017 SDCUE Tech Fair, I shared a digital portfolio collection and display system that I invite any school leader to copy/modify. The idea is to have students’ digital portfolios displayed online–all in one place. To see how to do this for your own school, please follow the action steps at bit.ly/sdcue17devine. I’d be glad to help out with any questions that come up along the way.
Here is a quick update to the above system: now students can give each other feedback!!
Let’s get students sharing their learning stories!
Examples of Digital Portfolio Collection Systems
See digital portfolio collection systems school-wide and at the classroom level.
- Digital Portfolio Collection and Display on my school website. Trying to get all students in my school to participate. Slow going, but making progress!
- Mr. Ford’s Arts, Media, and Entertainment Class
- Mrs. Verioti’s Science Classes
- Mrs. Castagnera’s Peer Mentors showing their work with students who have mild to moderate disabilities
- Mrs. St. John’s AVID Class
- Mrs. Michelson’s AVID Class
- Mrs. Wright’s AVID Class
- Mrs. Menard’s AVID Class