Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Inspire a Love of Learning - Preserving Student Work Through Portfolios

In the past few months, my father has found several essays and note cards from speeches he wrote in college.  It seems every time I go to my parents' home, he has a new piece of work that he cannot wait to show and GIVE me to share with his future grandchildren (Thanks, Stephen.).  Reading his work has shed some insight into my father at that age.  Yellowing paper and poor handwriting aside, perusing his work has reminded me that an 18-year-old then and an 18-year-old now are not that much different.  Aside from their digital presence and the technological distractions that exist now, they still have hopes and dreams and are aspiring to be something great.  Working with high school seniors, I have found several similarities between my father's ideas of the world and theirs (aside from the impact social media has had on them).  They both worry about the future, genuinely want to achieve, and have unique passionate that make them individuals.

While he was not an Education major, I have loved the opportunity to read writings from a younger version of my father.  The excitement he gets when he shares these documents with me and the fun I have as I jokingly critiquing his work, are great moments for us and have provided fodder for great conversations about my current teaching experiences and practices.

When we educate students, we need to inspire a love of learning.  There are certain documents that I urge my students to keep.  In Creative Writing, their memoirs are obvious ones.  In Media, their Media Diet papers and videos they create are also artifacts that they love to share/post on social media.  Creating digital portfolios is something that I started doing last year and plan on pursuing in all of my classes this coming school year.  In my drama class this past semester, my students collaborated with a class in Michigan.  They created websites, wrote monologues and performed them.  Their work was documented every step of the way, they received feedback from people outside of class, and we had many great conversations on what all this means for 21st century learning and living.  While the lack of technology daily made it a little challenging, students were so excited.  When they received a message from their Michigan friends, they could not wait to read it to the class and share.  They could not wait to watch their videos and talk about the messages we were exchanged.  The classroom was abuzz with excitement from learning that was both expressive and yet, mindful of digital-citizenship.

What I am most excited about for a 1:1 classroom is the ability to preserve and celebrate student work.  When students know they are publishing their work, they take greater care in crafting it, and they are more invested in it.  Their work does not just become something that Mrs. Sukow will grade, and then it will inevitably end up in the recycling bin on the way out the door.  No, it will become a living document, a way to communicate with the "world", and something they can "take with" them.

I want my students to look back on their work in the way my father does.  I want them to be proud of their academic successes and remember who they were/what they created at 18 fondly.  Sharing our educational pursuits can allow us to all reflect, grow, and gain knowledge.  Using technology to ignite a new fire in students and allow them to witness their growth happening live is a powerful development.  Our goal is to inspire a love of learning in our students, and creating a dialogue that leaves the classroom walls is an incredible way to do it!
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