The idea for having students create e-portfolios (digital portfolios) has been rolling around in my head for years. First, I was talking with others about how they could set them up in their classroom, and for the past year and a half, how I could do them in my own Social Studies classroom. However, this idea had no place to go until now. The catalyst was an article I read a month ago about reflecting on learning. Oh, the article's content wasn't really important nor earth shattering, but the idea of reflecting on learning was. It isn't new, but it is something I realized we don't do enough of in my class. Best of all, an easy way to do it is through ePortfolios. Now the ideas started flowing and I knew we were going to start.
All of the 7th grade students created a Google Site website one day as homework and they loved personalizing them! We did this before we started any writing as I didn't want to distract from either process. They also shared them with me on a Google form so that I could easily find them for grading. Finally, we prepared to write.
Our first reflection was about poverty in India. The students evaluated it, discussed why we were learning about it, and compared it to life in America. They did an amazing job with their writing! Our second reflection was shorter, discussing pollution problems in India. Along with their writing, they created wonderful pictures, digitally or on paper, that were included in their reflection. This is where the e-portfolio component shows up. By using Google Sites, we can add many types of digital creativity to our portfolios.
Today we are doing our third reflection. The student's have a choice of topics - monsoons or Gandhi. This is another important part of e-portfolios: Student choice. Currently, our portfolios look similar. As we go through the year, they will also house projects and independent learning. Since I will have the 7th graders next year as 8th graders, we will be able to keep these portfolios going to show two years worth of learning. The students have done such a nice job reflecting on their learning, that for our next unit, I decided their writing pieces will replace our unit test.