My (Teaching) Writing Goals and the Start of Digital Portfolios

My sixth students are in the midst of developing some writing goals for themselves for the school year. They’re doing this work as their very first pieces of writing in Google Apps in Education system, which we activated last week for them, by first brainstorming in Google Docs and then moving into Google Slides to create a “writing goals” presentation.

All of this goal-setting is the start of a digital portfolio system I am piloting this year with our sixth graders (which is connected to an inquiry project that came out of the Making Learning Connected MOOC this past summer), and I am spending the year putting things into place for what this will look like. I’m learning as I go, to be frank. I still don’t have a clear picture of the “finished project” and am working on the best way to have them collect work and reflect on their own writing in a meaningful way.

Luckily, I have a few upcoming conferences in October (at our Western Massachusetts Writing Project site and at the online 4C Digital Writing Conference event) where student writing portfolios are topics of sessions. I am hoping to gather some insights and ideas from other teachers.

At our Curriculum Night last week, parents were very intrigued by the concept of digital writing portfolios, particularly when I explained how these pieces of writing in our sixth grade would follow them up to the regional middle/high schools, with the hope that other teachers in our system will have students add to them, creating a six-year portfolio of writing and reflections. I’m not saying that will happen, but I would love for that to happen.

As usual, since I had my students working on some goals for writing class, I worked on some of my own goals, too, as (teaching) writing goals, which I shared out with them on Friday as they began work. It also gave me a chance to show how Slides works (and to realize that only five out of nearly 80 sixth graders have ever created a Powerpoint or slideshow before …. interesting, right?) My goals here are slightly different than my SMART goals for our school administration (which both center around instituting digital portfolios as reflective writing spaces).

Peace (that’s our goal, right?),

  1. I am working on digital portfolios with my third graders too. I am lucky that all have had previous tech experience, so we are using Book Creator in conjunction with Gdocs/videos/ audio, etc.

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