Monday, April 30, 2012

IEP ePortfolio - A Step Back

                This past fall I wrote about piloting an ePortfolio with students on IEPs.  I’ll be the first to admit that I fell into the Knowing-DoingGap.  I thought about, talked about, started developing, but never followed through with my plan.  Developing the format, while implementing the plan was a formula for becoming quickly overwhelmed.  I’ve spent the last few weeks reading and reflecting.  I really believe in the idea of IEP ePortfolios.  However, I’m taking a step back, creating a sample and asking for some feedback.

                The Power of Portfolios by Elizabeth Herbert provided me with some thought provoking insight.  She spoke about the multiple stages of ownership of a portfolio (p. 45).  Being that I work with K-6 students, my goal is to have three stages of the IEP ePortfolios.  The first stage is K-2 (K-6 the first few years of implementation), the teacher will be the main source of collection of evidence and both the teacher and student will write reflections on the evidence.  The second stage is grades 3-4, that would consist of teacher and student collection of evidence, as well as reflection.  The final stage would be grade 5-6, students would be the main source of collection of evidence, but both the teacher and student would be writing reflections.

                When I started this in the fall, there was no reflection piece attached.  I was collecting all of the data, but neither I nor the student was providing any form of reflection.  Herbert stated that one goal of reflecting is for students to grow metacognitively and to demonstrate competence in telling the story of learning (Herbert, p. 48).  If students are metacognitively aware, I believe they take a greater ownership in their work, which could improve their achievement in school.  When reflecting, the students will be able to decide what form of media will best suit them, oral or written.    To guide the students in reflecting, they will finish the statement, “I choose this piece for my portfolio because….”  After the student reflects, I will then reflect on the evidence and their reflection, tying everything together using the IEP goals and objectives. 

                Also within the ePortfolio, students, parents and general education teachers will be asked to complete a ProgressQuestionnaire related to the IEP goals and objectives.  The questionnaire will be completed at the beginning of each IEP, end of each 9 weeks, as well as before the annual review.  Using this questionnaire, the students will be using a formative assessment to reflect on the progress of their learning.  The students will be able to use this assessment, as a starting tool when discussing their present levels of performance at parent teacher conferences and the IEP annual review.  Parents and general education teachers will also be encouraged to complete the Questionnaire.  Having input, in regards to progress, from all members of the IEP team will ensure transparency within the progress of meeting IEP goals and objectives.    

                The next biggest hurdle, that I am trying to overcome, is when I am going to have these reflection discussions with students.  The majority of students, which I work with, are serviced within a general education setting.  If I pull them out once per week, for 30 minutes, I believe that will give me ample time to keep the student’s reflections current.  However, finding those 30 minutes for reflection discussion is the challenging piece.  As we all know, every minute is precious within the world of education.  As of now, I am tabling this thought until the beginning of next year school.  This may be a hurdle that is best crossed with each regular education teacher individually, as opposed to a one size fits all approach.  

                As I originally stated, in this post, I am take a step back and reevaluating my approach to ePortfolios.  I have started to develop a sample ePortfolio using LiveBinders.  I have yet to include evidence or reflections, but plan on having those pieces uploaded within the next week. Any feedback or advice that you are willing to share, would be much appreciated! 

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