Digital Portfolios: Capturing a Child’s Complete Picture Bill Carozza, Principal of Harold Martin School, Hopkinton, NH Collaborative Leadership/Plymouth State University October 2009
Problem: How to sustain the Digital Portfolio initiative over time and improve student achievement in the process Macro Solution: Maintain the PLC spirit both in the Steering Committee and throughout the building.
A look at HMS Digital Portfolios http://richerpicture.com/hopkinton/
In order to find success… (simply put) First, staff needed to see the benefits of digital portfolios… …and then, the staff needed to be the driving force behind the initiative. Collect data to see how it’s going. Adjust accordingly. Support, encourage, find the right tools.
Background First thoughts: 1997 at ASCD National convention. Met David Niguidula of Ideas Consulting and began relationship with the Hopkinton School District in 2004. Pilot program in spring of 2005; full school in 2006-07 school year.
Why Digital Portfolios? It helps to balance the quantitative side of assessment with qualitative work. It honors student work product not just a score on a test. Most importantly…it is a portfolio first; the technology is the vehicle.
How have DP’s been useful at HMS? Helps to document what students need to know and be able to do. To use in parent conferences-conversation starter-helps parents understand educational jargon. A tool for capturing, storing, and examining student work. Allows students to help explain their understanding-application of learning. Tool for us to drill down into specific learning outcomes and issues, e.g. examination of reading video to highlight a student's difficulties reading.
How have DP’s been useful at HMS? Getting students to "own" their learning-self reflection. Teachers better understand how their new students learn thus aiding transition-keeps kids from starting all over again and makes their elementary years much more fluid. More manageable than using paper over time-and people may actually view them. Capturing artwork and other 3 dimensional work. Capturing music and p.e. work as well-the arts in general. Highlights students’ academic and emotional behavior in areas outside of the classroom.
Timeline 2006-07 September: Technology staff will attend a grade level meeting with our Technology Director. Last week in September: There will be a Digital Portfolio intro to each class in the computer lab. October 11-25: Teacher video taping of students; half-day with member of Tech Staff. October 26, 27: Viewing time for reading videos at HMS. January 8-12: We will survey the staff as to the effectiveness of support and how the initiative is proceeding. February 12-23: Teacher video taping of students half-day with member of Tech Staff. Bill will be lining up subs. March 5-16: Viewing time for videos.
Keys to Success (more specifically) Administrative support and vision is essential. Have a diverse volunteer faculty committee make decisions about logistics and vision. Keep it as simple as possible (1 MacBook with QuicktimePro). Make the implementation simple, and well-supported (infrastructure, training).
Keys to Success (continued) Focus on using this to support something teachers have to do anyway (make something more efficient). DRA Writing Benchmarks ICT Literacy Portfolio Give opportunity, give structure. Don’t let an unfunded mandate become an unorganized initiative.
2006 Article in the Concord Monitor http://bit.ly/28ET83
What would you change? Most said that they would change nothing…others: Understanding that classroom teachers were given priority, I have not yet been assigned an adequate time to inaugurate the process with someone filming and someone else covering classes. My original intention was for this to cover the entire 2nd grade, which is a bit time-consuming for all parties. Perhaps at this stage, a few students should be selected just to initiate and "practice" the process. I think that I would like to try to tape in the classroom, but might change back to the conference room if the classroom is too disruptive/noisy. We need a better system for choosing the books that the students read. I hope to be able to video-tape students right in my classroom next year--just am not comfortable enough quite yet.
What went well during this digital portfolio process thus far? Increased comfort level with the technology to do this project. The instruction and support right with me during the process. It was so worthwhile for students to be able to view themselves reading--a real eye-opener! Both support and time were provided. Cindy's help right next to me. The kids’ enthusiasm. Replaying for the kids and me to view together.
What went well during this digital portfolio process thus far? The help with technology was great. The classroom coverage and first taping sessions. Everything went very well. The whole process was smooth. Knowing Kelly was going to be subbing in the classroom made this absence manageable and easy for this teacher and my kids. Having had the kids see the process first was great for their comfortability when it was time for their videotaping.
How valuable would it be to show videos during parent conferences? Not a good use of the time set aside for conferences. I would like to hear more discussion on this topic. We would need more time, but certainly it could validate some of our comments about reading--demonstrating strategies student is comfortable with and confidence in reading. Fairly valuable I think, providing we'd had a couple of run throughs and the process is efficient for parents. I do not think it is necessary.
How valuable would it be to show videos during parent conferences? I'm not really sure. There is limited time during conferences, and I wouldn't want to be late for the next conference and hold people up more while I search for and cue up the next video. While it sounds great to have parents watch their kids read, I would hope they see that every night, (and some do), but I think what they really want to know can be communicated effectively verbally. Seeing their child once at conference time won't give them much to compare and see progress- perhaps once the tech. is more secure but easily accessed, then parents could go to the site themselves and see various videos at their convenience-should think that would be more helpful. Anyway, just some thoughts. Bottom line for me at this point is that the videos wouldn't add a lot to the conference, certainly not when you consider all the time and expense to insure that all teachers can easily show them at the point of conference.
How valuable would it be to show videos during parent conferences? I think that we would need to have longer conferences if we were to incorporate digital portfolios into them. Also, I feel that we should either all use them or not use them. Would the school be set up for all parents to have access on PT Conference Day?
Describe the reaction from your students to their videotaping. Some were shy; some really liked putting on "a show”. Very excited. They loved viewing themselves! In the future, I would like to use it as a teaching/conferencing tool with each student. They seemed to have enjoyed it. They loved being video taped. Cindy and I showed the tape to each student who participated! They were a bit shy about the taping, although a few loved it. Next time will be easier. I think the shyness may have been due to the presence of a teacher whom they had never seen before. I have few ideas to do in the classroom to help with the shyness factor as well. I think I just have a shy class this year!
Describe the reaction from your students to their videotaping. Positive, enjoyed it, certainly puts them in the limelight- liked seeing themselves. They enjoyed being videotaped. They really enjoyed seeing themselves. They are too young to understand the value of portfolios over time. They LOVED watching themselves after I finished taping. Most of them were very comfortable at the time of the taping.
Where do we stand now? DPs are now mandatory throughout the state. Danger of losing momentum without embedding DPs deeper into our school and district culture and the initiative growing into older grades. Summer work finishing manuals for all operations. Continue with volunteers taking much of the technology tasks. Next round of surveys.
What’s next? New survey needed in the spring after the first round of DPs. Use some of the same questions for more accurate data collection. Other questions that reflect the DP change through the years. Move to continue embedding DPs into our school culture. Enduring Understanding: Technology initiatives have to improve upon the instructional, curricular, or assessment practices we already value. Support DPs throughout the district. Continue empowering the PLC of the DP Committee. Develop longitudinal study of student achievement around DPs.
Links to our reading… From Organizing Genius Recruit the best people The DP Committee was/is a reflection of the major teacher leaders in the school. From School Leadership That Works Designing a Site-Specific Approach Our own view on assessment. From Harvard Business Review; “The Discipline of Building Character” Solid leadership is often not the option between good and evil but between subtle choices. To make this initiative work and be sustainable, in a building full of techno-skeptics, it necessitates a fair amount of “dancing”.