Just when you thought…

From the files “Just when you thought your students and teachers were ahead of the curve,” here is a short video to show us we all have room to grow. The young lady shares exactly why students like the freedom of utilizing technology as well as gaining ownership. I did find it funny that the things “not for school” (Facebook, etc) are across the top of her site while the school links are along the bottom. It truly is cool to see a young student “get” PLE’s while many still struggle with the concept and the freedom it entails.  Enjoy:

Electronic Portfolios and the Thoughts of Educator


I sent this email recently to some in my district. I thought I would post it here to gather feedback from my PLN if any of you see fit.

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Earlier this year we began in earnest a push toward integrating electronic portoflios (ePortfolios) with staff and students at the middle school level using blogs and the intermediate level using USB flash drives. There is an article in T.H.E. Journal that cites studies from Gartner supporting our choice in this.

While we are in the infant stages of ePortfolios, we are indeed headed in the right direction. I feel we should consider expanding this program into more grades to further enhance our goal of graduating 21st Century enabled students under the direction of 21st Century enabled staff.

The article states:

“And the holy grail is a personal digital portfolio, where you can store your accomplishments and have them verified by your mentors, teachers, or employers, and then take it all with you wherever you go. We’re nowhere near that at the moment.”

White Oak ISD is at that point now. We have the technology tools in place and the training available to implement this at all grade levels.

Please read the article if you have a chance. While it focuses on several software solutions, it also shares what others are doing and the possibilities. We are still fully capable of handing EVERY graduating senior from White Oak High School a flash drive with their entire eportfolio on it to be used anywhere they would like. Imagine the power of that if they are starting those in their earliest years in WOISD and maintaining it throughout.

I am always willing to discuss our ideas and goals with anyone at anytime.

Thank you, Texarkana ISD!

Thank you, Texarkana ISD, for such a warm reception at your back to school, instructional technology-themed conference today. It was so nice to have a welcoming environment when I know how hard it is to listen to someone talk to you for 90 minutes to start the day. Hopefully, I was able to get you motivated for the kiddos who will be filling the halls and rooms next week.

As I mentioned in my talk, I am listing the links to the videos and sites we talked about during both the keynote and my breakout sessions. If you have any questions or I left something off, please leave a comment and I will add it in or get back with you about your questions. I look forward to working with your district again in the future. Good luck in the coming school year!

Keynote – “Instructional Technology: Who’s driving?”
Breakout Session – “Social Networking: It’s not just for kids anymore”

My Introduction video

Introducing the Book video

Joe’s Non-netbook video

PS22 Choir “Landslide” video

Kaplan “Chairs” video

A Brave New World video

RSS in Plain English video

National Technology Standards:

Star Chart info

Dr. Helen Barrett’s ePortfolio work

White Oak ISD’s ePortfolio & blog site

Voicethread site (book review samples)

Animoto

My son’s pirate story

2nd Grade teacher’s (Emily Richeson) blog

iTunes U

Edublogs (education only blogs)

Scott’s Delicious account (bookmarking)

Google Reader

Google Apps (Docs, Spreadsheet, Calendar, Presentation, Forms)

Twitter (Scott’s site)

Ten Tips for Growing Your Learning Network

My Session on E-Portfolios with Staff and Students


Slide Credit: Dr. Helen Barrett
I have had several inquiries as to how my poster session went that was centered on using free online tools (Web 2.0) in creating, organizing, and maintaining electronic portfolios for staff and students. Well, in a word, great! I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with so many others trying to do the same thing we are. While I am in a better situation than most due to a technology department and curriculum department that plays VERY well together, we still have our struggles. Training is one of them. There is so much to building effective
eportfolios that one person relatively new to the concept cannot learn and regurgitate it all back to staff in a productive way.

Thankfully, someone I admire for her knowledge and ability to share and teach stepped up to my session. Dr. Helen Barrett appeared in the corner of my booth. Fortunately, I saw her arrive and noted to everyone there that she was THE one to talk to about all things eportfolios. Anything I have to share about eportfolios would pale in comparison to this wonderfully read and prepared professor.  Another awesome piece of luck was that my curriculum director walked up behind me about the same time. I put the two of them together quickly to schedule some training in our district. If/When we are lucky enough to get Dr. Barrett in White Oak, our staff and students will never be the same again. We will be fully on track to creating portable archives of learning and teaching that all should be proud of. Exporting the eportfolio from the WordPress blog right to a flash drive will be a common happening for our students in the near future to allow them to take their representative work with them to college interviews, job interviews, competitions, etc. 

Another piece of luck came along when I ran into Sue Waters from Edublogs. After a lengthy conversation with Sue in the Blogger’s Cafe, my chief of technology and I decided it was time to move our entire WPMU blogging system to Edublogs Campus Ultimate where it will get the care and support it deserves. James Farmer, Sue Waters, and company will do more to keep up our system than we ever could. We know that this will now be the Cadillac version of our goals that we have wanted and needed all along. I have already noticed an unprecedented increase in speed in initial loading and navigating within and between blogs. Thank you, Edublogs! Our staff and students are going to be overjoyed when they log back in.


Photo Credit: AJC1 (Hartnell-Young, E. et al. (2007) Impact study of e-portfolios on learning partners.)
Another advantage for me in the move to Edublogs Campus Ultimate is the ability to batch create blogs and users. This was a headache when our system was at SiteGround because having a class or two of kids hitting the server at the same time never ended with anything but timeouts and 404 errors. It was what pushed us into seeking out a better host of our system. Considering we went from a Gig of traffic a month to over a Gig a day by the end of the year, we had to do something proactive before it all crashed down around us. You can go read for yourself all the benefits of making the move to Edublogs Campus Ultimate, but I can see this relationship being a very good one for all of us in White Oak ISD.

Stay tuned as we ramp up our electronic portfolio process with training by Dr. Helen Barrett and implementation by our staff and students this school year.