I decided to have my students create a digital “notebook” or portfolio to share with their parents during our next parent/teacher conferences. Now, I am really pushing boundaries here because no one else in my middle school does student-led conferences. Past experience as a parent and teacher has cemented my belief that students should be sharing their learning and explaining their progress to their parents. NOT ME! Our students need to accept responsibility for their learning!
Why are we setting up digital portfolios? Maybe your students don’t loose or forget things. How many times have you made 100+ copies of something only to find them on the floor, in the hall, or who knows where? Does your school have an unlimited budget for paper and copies? Mine doesn’t. If these aren’t reason enough then consider trying to add a video or some other cool media to that three ring binder. Let’s bring out the creativity in our students and have them create products that demonstrate their learning in ways that suit them. Hopefully, I have made my case for digital portfolios and student-led conferences. Let me know your thoughts.
So, how will this be accomplished without money? We are trying Livebinders. This is a free Web 2.0 resource that allows you to create binders (they look just like a three ring binder) with tabs, and sub tabs to organize your information. Create your binder then begin adding information in the form of web links, PDFs, images, videos, etc. The tabs (pages) can be formatted so that students can upload media on one side and add their own comments on the other. You just have to check it out. Go to Livebinders and look at some of the examples. Go through the tutorial (very quick) and find out how easy it is.
In addition to managing the student portfolios I had to find a way to sign 100+ parents up for individual appointment times. This problem was solved when a little research revealed Web Appointments. They have a 30 day free trial and several very reasonable pricing options, especially if you split the cost with a colleague. With just a little playing around I had a calendar set up that parents could link to and select an appointment time. There is even an option to send them a reminder. My kids like to share stories about who I have forgotten where and when. There are six of them. So reminders are very handy for people like me (I know there are more of you out there).
Our conferences aren’t until March so I am really putting myself on the line with this post since I haven’t finished this endeavor. It could fall apart. Which means you can expect another post around the middle of March letting you know how it went.
Looking forward to hearing about your experiences!