My Kindergarten Math
Yesterday I was discussing the value of authentic assessment with a colleague and I realized that the electronic portfoilios are just about done. I am pleased with them and see the portfolio as a valuable piece of my classroom assessment.
Initially I began with a grand idea but once I started to work with the students to collect their samples and create the electronic portfolios I realized that in order to make it meaningful for the kinders and manageable for me I had to scale it back.
Because it was a new project for me I wanted it to be open ended and evolve as the year progressed and I think that has been accomplished. I definitely know that it has been worthwhile and will do it again next year.
Step One: Decide upon a purpose for the portfolio. For example, assessment of a specific curriculum area. I chose math for three reasons; it is hands on, it is easy for the kinders to collect digital artifacts and it is simple for the kinders to seperate the concepts for artifact selection. As the porfolios evolved, I began to see other parts of their school experience which had math connections and added them to the portfolio such as journals, reading folders, buddy reading and art.
I think that electronic portfolios would work for all of the curriculum strands. The important key is the classroom routines that you establish for conferencing. I conference regularly with my kinders so literacy for example could easily be a component for e-portfolios (instead I have a paper literacy porfolio this year).
Step Two: Decide upon a simple plan for artifact collection. You have to consider format, timeframes, how much time to spend on selection, tools for artifact collection, classroom routines, student understanding, how to track each students artifact photos, ensuring that each student contributed a artifact for each concept and how it would be shared with families.
Format: I chose a familiar program, Microsoft Powerpoint. By choosing a program that I already knew I could immediately focus on the assessment and collection components of the project. I know that are other formats out there and I am curious to see what format the other project participants used. I created a template which included a page for each math concept. As the portfolios evolved, I added pages for parts of the Kindergarten program that included math like art, drama and reading. Then I just made a copy and personalized one for each student with photos and work samples.
I created a blog so that I could write about the process and obtained permission from the parents to use student photos.
Organization: I laminated a white placemat for each Kinder, with their name of it, which they used almost every day.Then if they wanted the artifact in their portfolio they would ask me to take a photo of it. Sometimes they will make an artifact during a conference or during free choice and ask that it be added to their portfolio.
Technology: I started the year taking pictures with my camera but I got a used ipod for Christmas and find that much easier to carry around, download pictures and upload them to their electronic portfolios. The ipod has an audio feature that I would like to explore. I also read on some blogs about a microphone that records speech and connects to your computer for speedy uploads to programs. It is half the cost of an ipod and is very simple to use.
I created a digital archive offline on my home harddrive, but once the school has wireless, I could use Icloud to store the photos with the class ipod. This would enable me to access the photos from work or home.
Cost: Initially our project success team imagined that we would use a memory stick to store their electronic portfolios and most of the team have used them. However, I found that keeping the portfolio on my memory stick as a back up and using my laptop at home was sufficient. This means that there is no cost for the portfolio as I am using my own personal ipod. I would recommend using a school ipod for the project, but there were no funds this year and we were not fundraising. We just ordered two ipods for next year with the grant monies and will order two more in the fall. This will provide each participant with a class ipod.
Tracking: Because I conference and complete observations each day, I use a clipboard with students names in each box. Then I can see at a glance who needs to collect an artifact and can remind them that it needs to be made, although many times the artifacts are generated during small guided math work. An additional benefit is that using a clipboard is a familiar assessment tool for me so I did not have to integrate it into my teaching routine.
Student involvement: I talked about portfolios a lot and used samples so that they could visualize the portfolio. I brought my laptop from home and showed them samples of their own portfolios. This created an environment where the Kinders thought about what they wanted to be included. Throughout the year I kept referencing the porfolios and engaging the Kinders in selecting artifacts. Eventually, some of them began to anticipate what they wanted to go into the portfolio.
Criteria: I used the same criteria that I had developed for the concept. In math the students were selecting samples that showed their understanding and application of the concept.
Step Three: Publish the portfolio.
Initially, I imagined that it would go home in June on a memory stick. But then, they were so wonderful that I decided during Christmas break that it was a perfect opportunity to share the portfolios with families so I emailed them. The Kinders shared the porfolio, providing a narrative that the portfolio is lacking.
Step Four: Reflection is ongoing. Each time we added an artifact I wrote about it on the slide. Sometimes I shared student comments but usually told a little story to accompany the digital artifact.
We will have our final meeting and share out in June with the school district project success teams. This will be a perfect time to reflect on the porcess and plan for next year. Our team has already decided to continue with our project.