What if…?

We had seven Poughkeepsie Day School attendees at #Educon 2012 in January and they brought back a wealth of ideas. Thank you  David, David,  Dorothy, Jake, Joe, Kaitlin and Trace.

On Friday they shared some of their learning and conversation with the entire faculty and staff.  One focus was eportfolios – what they are and how might they help transform school.

David Jordan led us in a What If conversation. It helped us focus on the why rather than the how and what and that’s always helpful.

Here’s one of the questions and the responses (slightly consolidated) he collected from the room:

1) What if students had a way to carry their learning stories with
 them from year to year?

  • Submission of docs to colleges will soon be digital
  • Central location for examples of work
  • Report writing can become easier
  • Medium becomes a means to teach tech skills
  • Self-reflection
    • Value judgments of their own work (not, ‘it’s my best because I got a good grade)
  • Recognize/ watch / celebrate/ analyze and interpret change and growth over time with a sense of continuity
  • Greater ownership of their learning stories and ability to tell own story
  • Transition from teacher to teacher would be smoother
  • Differentiation becomes individualization
  • Enable personal student branding. Each student in charge of own “destiny”
  • Threatens teaching
  • Challenges “authority,” control, command hierarchy. (Bad & Dangerous)
  • Understand responsibility for own learning
  • Accelerate customization, personalized learning
  • Develop independence & autonomy
  • Accelerate movement away from limiting, timid constraints on assessing learning. Away from standard measures (i.e. – SATs)
  • Help us help colleges to move away from the traditional ways of selecting candidates.
  • Sense of ownership writing their own stories and having more full participation in their own assessment
  • Wouldn’t have to backtrack
  • Use as memories: graduation, family gatherings, programs they participate in
  • Mark growth; strengths & weaknesses
  • Inspire and grow from previous work
  • Tell your own story
  • Become curators of own story & growth
  • Idea: initially teachers have control of story and gradually students take over

The idea plays into a powerful notion of learners as metacognitive captains of their own ships.  It allows a sense of personal voyages with the understanding that our lives and our learnings are a series of interconnected and interwoven narratives that we can craft for ourselves and over which we have some agency. Exciting stuff.

But wait a minute – what about these two ideas?

  • Threatens teaching
  • Challenges “authority,” control, command hierarchy. (Bad & Dangerous)

What’s that about?

If learners had a way to carry their learning journey for themselves, and if all those other things on the list were made possible, then the role of the teacher is also transformed. As a co-learner the teacher helps with all the other roles aboard that personal ship – navigator, stoker, engineer, pilot etc. (These extended metaphors have their limitations.) But that’s not the traditional model of teaching and authority.

And we all know how we all like change….

Now read Part Two of What if…?


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