This year I had big dreams about vamping up our reflective E-Portfolio blog program. E-Portfolios are something that we have been doing at AISC for a long time. Two years ago though, things really improved by moving our kids from a Google site/ artifact based E-Portfolio to a reflective/ Blogger E-Portfolio. This switch aligned the program with our vision and mission and the E-Portfolios have now become an wonderful way to keep track of student growth during their time here at AISC.
Originally teachers would pick what projects appeared on the blogs and typically the same projects were showcased in each child’s E-Portfolio Google site. Now with blogs, students are encourage to reflect about their learning instead of reflecting on a project or artifact. This learning might be something they are proud about, something that challenged them or maybe a reflection of how their learning changed. Students and teachers still have a long way to go for the vision of this program to become a reality. Many students often write about the same projects because their teacher tells them to do so or they write exactly what happened in class (their posts are not always reflective).
In an attempt to get students more excited about this great reflective learning exercise, I decided to do a couple of experiments with motivation. My first idea was to pair up 6th and 8th graders to do blogging buddies during their STEM projects. I paired up students who were doing similar projects in the hopes that they could learn from each other by commenting. This failed terribly. Students were not held accountable by their teachers for commenting because it was seen as something extra. They were given no time to comment in class and weren’t intrinsically motivated to write comments on each others blogs. Students were blogging because they had to.
My second attempt was to get parents and family members involved in the commenting. I held a session as the last middle school Parent Coffee. I created this nice informational brochure. I thought it would be such a great way for families to become involved in their child’s learning. I hoped family members from far away would comment on the blogs (this was the “redefinition” part of my plan). The family commenting initiative, however, failed miserably too. I sent the parents emails to remind them to comment and checked the student blogs frequently to see if there was any commenting by parents. Parents were not leaving any comments. Maybe they were too busy. My hopes of motivating the kids to become reflective learners through blogging were dashed.
So, today, as I was browsing around the student E-porfolio’s wallowing in my failure, I decided to try one more thing. When I came across a blog that looked pretty good, I emailed the student asking if I could share it out to other educators and students. I received a bunch of enthusiastic replies from students saying “Sure!” and “Thanks for the compliments” and “Thanks for looking at my blog.” I took Jeff’s “redefinition” advice and I posted these E-Portfolio blog links to twitter with the hashtags #comments4kids #edchat #eportfolio #COETAIL and #edtech in hopes that they would get a little traffic and maybe a comment. Here are the links to the E-Portfolio blogs I shared out. If you are reading this, PLEASE, click on one and leave a thought provoking comment, or some words or encouragement.
Let’s see if this last try can make a little bit of difference these student’s motivation levels around reflective blogging.