Currently, in the Language Arts department at Owen J. Roberts High School, students are expected to maintain portfolios that contain their writing pieces from English class in ninth through twelfth grade. These portfolios are difficult to organize and are often lost. Students do not see the value in them, and they are not required to reflect on the learning process that took place in the creation of them. When they graduate, they take them home and bury them under their beds or recycle them on the way out of the building. They do not realize how much value these portfolios could hold.
Therefore, we are proposing a solution that we feel will not only simplify this process but will also add value to their personal growth as learners. By transitioning this from a hard copy assessment portfolio to an ongoing learning ePortfolio, students will be able to take ownership of their development and will be able to continue to build upon them in the future.
We are proposing that to initiate the use of the ePortfolio, all ninth grade students should be required to take a one semester course two days a week in which they are taught how to build an ePortfolio. WordPress is a free platform that has multiple privacy options, where the ePortfolio they build can be accessed by just the student and the teacher, which is why we suggest its use. Students would develop and individualize it to reflect their personal and educational development. This would be a cross-curricular learning portfolio in which students would compile all their learning, reflect on their growth, and eventually be able to utilize after graduating from Owen J. Roberts.
Currently, ninth grade students have study halls built into their schedules. Because of this, the addition of the ePortfolio course should not create a scheduling conflict. There would be eight sections total. Two teachers from each core subject area (math, history, English, science) would run a section of this course two days a week during the same class period he/she has a study hall. A third day during that same period would be dedicated to planning, grading, and collaborating; during the other two days those teachers would have their regularly scheduled study halls. Student schedules would consist of two days of the ePortfolio class and three days of study hall.
Research indicates that well-designed learning ePortfolios allow for students to have more ownership. Therefore, implementing learning ePortfolios at the beginning of ninth grade will allow students to have more ownership over their learning from the moment they walk into the doors at the high school. This ownership will then carry over into each of their classes as they reflect on their learning. The curriculum that we will construct for this course will provide guidelines and suggestions for how to get started and how to build it using WordPress, but the students will have control over their ePortfolios. We would also like to propose to the English department that we add ePortfolio requirements to the curriculum to provide students with structured time throughout their high school years to continue developing and utilizing it to its fullest potential. This will improve intrinsic motivation with how they approach their ePortfolio because it will be uniquely theirs. We look forward to hearing your feedback and working with you to make this proposal a reality at Owen J. Roberts High School.
Kelly Trupe, Erin Sanchez, Ryan King