Just sent in my research project proposal – interesting how answering some of the questions just seemed to generate more and more questions in my mind. This is going to be a very exciting learning adventure!
A brief description of my project:
My main objective is to explore the potential of Web 2.0 tools for developing metacognition in learners, by having students create electronic portfolios and holding student-led conferences. While these practices are already taking place in many schools, they are not yet common practice in my school. So basically, the project will involve implementing, for the first time, the use of electronic portfolios in a 5th grade class.
Though I initially thought it would be easy, (process portfolio, of course!) I’m finding that I have lots of questions associated with really clearly defining:
- the goal of the portfolio
- the type of portfolio
- the intended audience
- the format
For example, what format of portfolio is developmentally appropriate yet evolves as the learner grows? What kind of portfolio at once shows process and is linked to developmental stages and the standards adopted by the school? (as an independent, international school, we get to pick and choose sets of standards and benchmarks! – a whole other conversation, but such an interesting one!).
One aspect I’ve struggled with in the past is maintenance. My students have kept paper portfolios in past years. We were very diligent about starting them – the whole first section was all about the student as a learner – goals, interest inventories, learning style questionnaires – but then as things got busy, portfolios were put aside as we blasted through the content full steam ahead. Then there would be several days of scrambling to add artifacts & reflections to portfolios right before parent conferences. I guess I knew in my heart that this wasn’t exactly best practice…but I found it difficult to slow down and give the students time to reflect on a regular basis. They say we don’t learn from experience, but rather from reflecting on experience…and I’m hoping to practice what I preach here on this blog. If my project proposal is accepted, I’m hoping that will be added incentive to be more diligent in this respect.
Another big question mark in my mind is format. I have, in the past, experimented with ePearl (“electronic portfolio encouraging active and reflective learning” by the CSLP at Concordia University, Montreal). It’s a great tool and students who experimented with it seemed to enjoy it. That said, my slightly overly-optimistic (Polyanna?) self hopes that the students will be so jazzed about their portfolio that they’ll want to continue to document their learning and discoveries – even after they leave our school. We have a very transient population, and for that reason, I’m leaning more towards Google Apps for Education, or perhaps student blogs…or…? Still trying to figure out what is most developmentally appropriate for 5th graders, yet leaves them with some room to grow. Any and all suggestions welcome!
In putting together my research project proposal, I had to submit a preliminary list of resources. Stay tuned for that list in an upcoming post!