Last week, we had three full days of professional development for teachers, including one full day dedicated to a Technology Conference held at the high school. The Technology Conference was organized like an out-of-district conference by offering multiple sessions to choose from that varied from 25 minutes to 2 hours. We received the schedule ahead of time so we could create a "road map" for ourselves of which sessions we wanted to attend. We did not have to sign up in advance for the sessions - they were first come, first serve so the "road maps" helped. The schedule also helped us choose sessions that didn't conflict with sessions we were leading. That was another amazing part of the day - we were learning from one another! Teachers and administrators throughout the district were able to sign up to lead a session/workshop during the day - a great way to share and learn with one another. I led three sessions - iPads for administrators, Best Apps for Education, and Cloud Classroom. In between the sessions I led, I attended three other sessions: Educreations, Wikis for book clubs, and ePortfolios.
I was extremely intrigued by the ePortfolio session because I have been longing to move away from the paper version of writing portfolios in the classroom to digital portfolios online. Up until now, I kept procrastinating because ePortfolios were the "unknown", so I made sure I attended this session to dive into this new learning! During this session, Wendy shared how she has her students create digital portfolios by turning their word documents into PDF's by using the Cute PDF option. At first, I was a little confused about how to convert the documents into PDF's, but after having "hands-on" time to explore it myself while being coached by Wendy, it became clear. She then showed us how to insert multiple pages into the PDF so we could continue to add to it throughout the year with multiple documents. This way, instead of having hanging folders that are busting by the seams with papers, it can be organized online in ONE PDF - yay! As I was exploring this new digital tool with Kim, one of my colleagues, we discovered that we can also insert post-its right onto the students writing to add in comments and feedback! We were so excited - it was definitely clear at this point who taught elementary school (high school teachers didn't quite share our excitement over the post-its...ha!). The post-its will enable us to read the students' writing and give immediate feedback to them online. These ePortfolios not only are a great way to organize and showcase student work over the course of a school year, but it is also a powerful way to visually show the progress students make as learners.
Kim and I are planning on using the digital portfolios for writing workshop next school year and are looking forward to it. There will probably be some bumps along the way as we are trying this for the first time, but that is what learning is all about! I'd love to hear how you are using digital portfolios in your classroom and/or district for writing workshop or any other subjects. Stay tuned for posts throughout the year about our digital portfolio journey!