The excitement in each Grade 5 classroom has been palpable this year as students have been taking delivery of their new MacBook Pros. Three of the thirteen Grade 5 classes are piloting a 1:1 program and the remaining ten classes are 1:2. It is all part of the intermediate school’s investigation into the best model to achieve individualized learning for our students.
Each homeroom is becoming familiar with their new MacBooks as well as being introduced to Google Apps for Education. The hardware and software combine beautifully to enable students to develop effective communication and collaboration skills and to provide them with an opportunity to create authentic, relevant learning experiences.
Another exciting initiative is each student’s electronic portfolio, or e-portfolio, using Google’s blogging platform, Blogger. The e-portfolio will contain posts of work samples along with reflections about their learning. The process of reflecting enables students to become more successful as they know how they learned and can identify what they would have done differently.
One of the first posts that Grade 5 will complete is to assess their reading fluency. They will use an online tool to record as they read an extract from their 'just right' book. After listening to the recording they self assess using the following guiding questions:
- Did I quickly self-corrected mistakes or omissions?
- Did I stop to take a breath where there was no punctuation?
- Did I follow the punctuation signals such as commas and periods?
- Did I read with expression that conveyed meaning?
Students should be able to identify what they did well along with areas for improvement. The recording is embedded within a post along with their response to the guiding questions.
Weeks later, after completing their second recording, the structure of the blog enables them to easily return to their original post. Students will replay their initial ‘reading fluency’ recording and compare it to their latest attempt. It is here that the greatest potential for learning occurs! During conferencing, each student can compare and determine if they did, in fact, improve. Students can refer back to their reflection where they identified their areas of strength and weakness. Is the weakness still there? What strategies did they employ to improve? Providing students with evidence of growth, or lack thereof, allows them to see the value of responding to feedback. They learn to set achievable goals, outline strategies to achieve those goals, and to be held accountable for achieving them.
The e-portfolio will stay with them during their time as an SAS student, providing them with a perfect picture of their growth and experiences as a learner. Along with the technical skills required to set up, post and embed work samples onto their blog, students have discussed and agreed upon a set of responsible and ethical behaviors necessary to build a positive ‘digital footprint’. They have been asked to consider the additional audiences for their posts: friends; teachers; parents; extended family; even universities and future employers! There are coming to grips with the fact that their digital footprint starts now. What do they want it to say about them in the future?