13 November 2015

Portfolio Days: 10 Steps to Successful Reflection

You really need a whole class period--and a pack of fun stickers--to update e-portfolios. You could maybe squeeze two updates into one class period, but you're basically just handing them excuses not to finish either if you do.

Not so long ago, portfolios were a thing I expected my precious pupils to get done on their own time. I made them test grades but didn't even allot them any of my own precious instructional time! What kind of message does that send? Furthermore, what kind of work can I expect if I'm not around for any part of the process?

Mind you, I don't have the porfolio process down to a science, but with Classcraft plus the magic words ("¡Uno, dos, tres! ¡No más inglés!"), I'd say we're largely approaching 90% TL at least, and I'm getting better quality in the portfolios this year than ever before (an improvement I attribute both to VoiceThread portfolio setup and the inclusion of "recommended samples" in the Classroom assignment).

So here's what portfolio days should look like.

1. Sticker time
Ninja Turtle stickers actually work much better than homemade
"Novice Mid Reading" stickers modeled on the digital badges.
Before we begin curation on Portfolio Days, I announce who earned a badge for the day's focus skill and award stickers.

My students have progress four charts in the back of their interactive notebooks, you see: leer, escuchar, hablar and escribir. After IPAs, they get to mark the level they achieved on that performance, but on Portfolio Day, they get stickers. I check each portfolio section 3 times during the semester, so there are 3 blocks.

When they demonstrate ALL of the ACTFL Can-Dos consistently in their portfolios, they get a badge on ForAllRubrics...and a sticker on their charts.

This has helped immensely with clarifying what level each kid needs to be working on.

Plus everyone who earns a sticker gets "tres en tres," three quick claps on the count of tres to acknowledge their accomplishment.

2. ForAllRubrics - View results
If I learned nothing else at FLANC 2015 (which, of course, I did), I learned that you MUST close the feedback loop. Karen Tharrington taught us that students must RESPOND to the feedback you give them, which means that they have to LOOK at it. So I have my students pull up their ForAllRubrics pages and see how they did on the skill for the day.

3. Identify problem objectives
Nearpod comes in handy here, because just saying "Look at your rubrics" and watching them pull them up doesn't quite close that feedback gap. They have to make sure they understand. So they respond to a quick open-ended question so I can see that they grasped why they didn't get full credit yet...or what they need to do to get started on the next level if they did get that Turtle sticker! This way I can get a quick read on whether or not they get what's missing.

4. Identify next steps
Another job for Nearpod. I mean, sure, they can copy what I put in the comments, but do they know what to do about it? Do they know what they have that will work to fill the hole?

5. Pledge on ForAllRubrics
Between the sticker and viewing their own results for the day's designated skill, the young ones should have a pretty good idea about what level they're on and what they actually need to focus on. So I have them click the badge that they must focus on to open up a pledge (this ensures they'll be able to see the results when I'm done scoring). They have to put something in the pledge box, so I just have them link to the page for the day's skill (which ForAllRubrics just made clickable for me!) The URL is not going to change, and I know I'll be able to get to whatever they've done.

6. Create/upload new title page
I really like having them separate their previous submissions from their current submissions. I suppose I could review everything every time...but I really don't have that kind of time--especially for the videos that have begun to exceed three minutes. This also helps students organize chronologically, because we want their best, most recent work at the front, so it reminds them to move it, and allows future viewers to see at a glance what level they're about to witness.

In the future I may have students create ALL of their potential title pages at once at the beginning of the semester, but I'd still have them upload each six weeks, to reflect their progress.

Title pages can be as simple or as fancy as you want.
Just be sure to use your time wisely!

7. Review ALL "Recommended Samples"
Making recommendations about which assignments could fulfill the objectives has gone a LONG way to getting me more fruitful results. However, it appears that by and large they're just plugging and chugging what I said could work without making sure what they personally submitted has anything to do with their designated objectives.

So I'm going to start calling on Nearpod even MORE to make sure they're listening to their videos, reading their IPA submissions, and COMPARING them to the actual objectives they're supposed to be proving they can do consistently. I'll have everybody pause, unearth ONE of their own designated samples, and then TELL me which objectives what they just witnessed actually being fulfilled.

Rinse, repeat. (There are usually only 3-5 recommendations.)

8. Identify remaining needs
Once they've seen what they HAVE, they're going to have to plan what they NEED. And put it in writing. On Nearpod again.

9. Upload and comment on samples
They'll take what they have that they can use and add it to the appropriate skill VoiceThread (at the front). And since they've been ignoring the edits I made on IPAs and screenshotting where I underlined problems and freaking ENGLISH words as if everything was ducky, I'm going to have to require a reflection comment on every slide now, to address those highlights and underlines at least. In fact, I'll have them include a comment with the objective(s) they think they're demonstrating.

10. Fill in the gaps and submit
If there are objectives uncovered, they need to create something new. Maybe a better version of something we already did, maybe something completely new. Once they need nothing else, they show me they know it's done after that, they submit the link on Classroom.

Now this process is about half current practice and half hopeful prediction at present. We have one more round of portfolios this semester, and I think I have some substantial gains to look forward to with these steps in place.

I just need to make sure to restock my Ninja Turtles first.

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