Archive for March, 2006

Eportfolio: Student Accountability and Student Choice

As future teachers, we want you to be decision makers in your own class.”

In your pre-service teaching eportfolio, you will include the following assignments.”


We believe in constructivism.”

Put these things in the boxes in your electronic portfolio.”


You are to include these five assignment.”

I have another assignment that I know better shows my ability to assess students based on my placement.”


Tell why these prescribed assignments are meaningful to you.”

You told me to do them; they do not have any meaning for me.”


Reflect on why you included this assignment.”

You told me too.”


Reflect on this assignment.”

Do you want how much I liked it or what I learned from it?”


Show us many pictures of your placement.”

I’ld prefer to only show a few with well chosen captions.”


We’ve got a record of all your scores.”

How do I show my passion for teaching and my love of students?”


Eportfolios: Digital StoryTelling and Proficiencies

Joe Lambert and Helen Barrett emphasize the importance of digital storytelling. “A story can be as short as explaining why you bought your first car or house or as long

as War and Peace. Your own desires in life, the kinds and types of struggles you have

faced, and, most importantly, the number and depth of realizations you have taken

from your experience all shape your natural abilities as an effective storyteller.”


What is the role of digital storytelling and proficiencies?


A story focuses often focuses on a critical revelation or turning point about yourself.


For example, a student would be high in storytelling and low in proficiency based if she tells of the sadness of leaving her placement. She might tell about the great relationship she developed with students from another culture when she started out afraid of them.

Another student may be high in proficiency and low in storytelling if he shows how he did several prescribed subproficiency.


Storytelling and proficiency can be combined. Charlotte, a pre-service teacher, tells the story of how she realized in her placement that Jose was not doing well in school due to his writing skills. She tells of how she noticed that he seemed dazed everytime he was given a writing assignment and how he struggled for a while and then gave up. She relates that she wanted to help him. She describes several classroom writing assessments that she has used and desribes how she analyzed those assessments to find out more about the students in general and Jose specifically. Her pivotal moment was when she discovered Jose’s lack of organization in writing. She tells of how she worked with Jose and a few other students to use graphic organizers on the school’s computers and notecards at home. She shares Jose’s ups and downs in dealing with organization. She shares her joy at seeing Jose begin to organize his ideas and notices how he seems so less stressed over the writing. After many weeks of work, Jose hands in a well organized writing assignment and Charlotte is so excited and happy for Jose. Charlotte has told a story and at the same time demonstrated several proficiency such as those for Assessment (knows of several different assessment, uses pre, during and post assssments; informs classroom learning based on assesssments).

The big picture of student learning: Eportfolios

a few pebbles from a beach

three city lights

a pen and a piece of paper


None of these tells the whole picture. Most teachers’ tests and quizzes focus on a discrete part of the curriculum and often those assessments focus on the most easily measured but not the most critical parts. For example, a teacher may give a quiz on A Midsummer Night’s Dream that has the students identify what actions the major characters did in the scene but the teacher does not ask how that characters’ action illustrate a major theme in the play.


Students can present the big picture of their learning through eportfolios as long as the eportfolios do not chop up the learning into tiny pieces. In most assessments the tiny pieces do not create a combined whole; they are a holding tank of tiny discrete items. For example, some learning institutes (K12 schools and universities) have picked certain proficiency subparts to measure. A proficiency may have four parts – A, B, C, D. The students do each part but they do not show how they four parts become the whole proficiency. The dots do not connect.


When students focus on the big picture of their learning (the whole proficiency) such as how they show that they can critically analyze literature (ELA Standard 3, New York State), they can show many different kinds of critical analysis. They can show examples from poetry analysis, from watching a play, from comparing two novels, and from their feedback on another student’s writing.


Go from a microscopic view of learning to a wide-angle lens of student learning.


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