Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Last year I began working with students in grades K, 5 and 8 to create digital portfolios. We used Wordpress blogs as the platform. Portfolios are a digital collection of a student's best work with a reflective component. This type of reflective practice is new for most of our students and is a process, which will take time. As we began the process, we realized that it was almost a tease giving students a versatile, customizable, blogging platform and then not allowing them to freely blog. So the "blog-folio" was created-- part blog, part reflective portfolio.

Portfolios give students a chance to develop metacognition, set goals and internalize what "good work" looks like. Blogs offer a platform for creativity, communication, connection and the practice of digital citizenship. "Blog-folios" are the best of both worlds- using a blogging platform to develop writing skills, provide opportunities to connect with an authentic audience and increase reflective practices. Instead of using the entire site as a portfolio, students will use the category "portfolio" to designate those selections that represent high-quality work and reflection.

Blogs are Transformative:
As educators, we are in the business of helping each child bloom into the flower that he or she is meant to be. The goal is to help students reach high academic standards while developing their unique selves, growing at their own rates and discovering their personal passions. Blogs are a space for sharing ideas in almost any format, a place for self-expression, connection, and reflection- literally a platform to explore, document and record the growth of the learner. The tool (blog) is transformative in that it allows instant publishing and the possibility of an authentic audience, as well as bringing in multimedia communication and creation. It is also transformative in that, unlike many school assignments or projects, blogging is a long-term "project" that incorporates many different "subjects" and skills.

Student Blogging Challenge:
We have started this year by introducing the blog-folios to our 5th graders through participation in the Student Blogging Challenge. This activity has approximately 300 participants from around the world. Students are enjoying the opportunity to customize the look of their blogs, write about areas of interest and interact with other student bloggers. As teachers, the blogs enable us to get to know our students better, to model good writing through our comments and to target instruction. Blogging is, by definition, differentiated instruction.

Part of the joy of blogging is knowing that someone is reading what you've written. All of our student blogs are open to receive comments, and all comments will be moderated (by the students) before being published on the blog. We invite you to read and comment on any of the 5th grade blogs listed here. The big idea is to engage students in the act of writing as communication. Please encourage students by responding to their content, not correcting their mistakes. By leaving a comment, you can model good writing skills. Know that the blog-folios are a work in progress and a long-term record of a student's growth. Each child's writing and thinking will show growth over the year(s).

1 comment:

Hannah Still said...

I think that the blog-folios are a great idea. It is a wonderful way for the children to express themselves and still review their own work. I cant wait to read the children's blogs!