Today’s Contributor: Laurie Beaman
Hi! My name is Laurie Beaman, and I teach AP US History and a highly-scaffolded, remedial history class entitled “Advanced Studies in Social Studies” at Lanier High School. Like most fabulous teachers in our district and beyond, my journey with technology revolves around trying to individualize learning for a diverse group of students and needs, along with attempting to find innovative ways for students to connect with material and produce content.
In this post, I want to share my journey with developing e-portfolios for students in my AP US History class. E-Portfolios are a feature in BLEND that allows students to essentially build their own BLEND (canvas) site to highlight what they have learned and produced in their classes. I approached e-portfolios with the intention of creating a place where students could explain in their mastery of key concepts in their own words and also showcase work they had produced throughout the year. My thinking behind this was that by the end of the year each student would have an online portfolio where they had self-crafted an AP review to help them study for their test (in their own words and exhibiting their own learning). Having this in an electronic form also allowed me to give students more choice in how they absorbed the information and re-produced it – catering to various learning styles and studying preferences.
In addition, a second purpose for doing this was to help students retain information and have a place where all of their learning was accumulated and stored. This was important to me from personal experience, since throughout the years, former students who were enrolled in college frequently returned asking for history notes and help as their university professors did not scaffold or explain in as much detail. By creating an e-portfolio, I hoped to create an artifact that would last with students and that they could appreciate in their university years and beyond.
SO… what is an e-portfolio? How do I explain it to my students?
The following link explains the process of how students create an e-portfolio in canvas.
How do I assign the E-Portfolio?
I assign e-portfolio pages by each unit that we study. Students are given a list of key concepts that they should have mastered within the unit, and are instructed to summarize and show evidence of learning that concept in their own words. In addition, they need to either show what we did in class to master that concept (through a picture or BLEND submission), or show an external way that they learned the concept (through suggested resources or ones that they found on their own).
Some Student Examples:
E-portfolios have really transformed my class. Sometimes (especially in AP), the standards are set so high that students don’t have opportunities to demonstrate what they have learned—only the information gaps they are missing or difficulties in comprehending high-level questions. E-portfolios not only allow students to take ownership of their learning, but also to gain confidence that they understand essential knowledge for the class and to show all of the effort that they have put into the class. I am excited to see how studying for the AP test is transformed with a review partially built by the students themselves, and how reflections on learning synthesize classwork with student connections.
*Last tip: Remember that students need to select “make their e-portfolio public” in order to share their work with you through a canvas link.