I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students Science in a multi-aged setting. I teach in a public school in Rural, SC. I am a trained Adolescent Montessori teacher and use the Montessori method in my classroom.
Our classroom is small and space is limited. I want my students to be able to self-assess their growth throughout the year. I emphasize the importance of "growing" their knowledge within a school year. What I mean by this is, that with each new assignment, they should have a goal to improve and learn something new about themselves as a learner. I feel that in order for them to see their growth, students should keep samples of their work over time. This way they can review their work and see areas where they have improved and also see areas where improvement is still needed. In a small classroom, storage becomes a problem. When 85 students are trying to keep samples of work, the room quickly becomes cluttered. A student from this past year suggested that we keep electronic portfolios of their work. WOW! Great idea! Adolescents need to be engaged and empowered by their learning. I think they will be anxious to complete their work so that they can use the technology. They are so savvy with technology and this is definitely a way to motivate them to complete assignments. I plan to offer after school classes to teach Movie Maker. Some students will organize their work using this program.
This project will allow my students to keep a digital portfolio of their "Year in Science". They can use the camera to take pictures of projects, activities, or work that may be too difficult to keep a copy of in the classroom. They can document results from experiments that are ongoing, and they can scan copies of any papers or experiment notes they want to keep or showcase. The students will decide which pieces of work to include from each unit. This allows them to evaluate their own work and become active participants in the evaluation process. They can set goals and see their own progress as they work toward meeting these goals. The CD becomes an accumulation of science experiences for the school year in one easy to find location. No need for more space. Adolescents love to show off and this project would allow them to have a medium for self expression. The students can then present these portfolios to the class or their parents at the end of each unit, semester, or the end of the year. It can also be kept as a keepsake of their "Year in Science"!
You can help to motivate my adolescents by giving them access to the supplies that they can use to complete their very own electronic portfolios. It is essential that my students see their growth in knowledge over time. The electronic portfolio will allow them to see their own growth and feel a sense of pride as they share it with others. I think this is an excellent way to solve not only a storage problem, but to encourage students to really assess themselves and the work they complete. It will offer them a chance to make choices and critique their work in an attempt to share their best work. It will make the student a partner in their educational experiences, not just a consumer.
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