As I continue to research and experiment with the possibilities of e-portfolios I have brought my own family into my work. 2 years ago when my 5 year old daughter had written a full sentence completely on her own (KSLBHINRK, which translated is “Castle Behind Rock”) I realized that I wanted to find a way to keep not only her writing and the drawing that accompanied it, but I also wanted to record the explanation of her thinking. It was then that I first created a notebook within my Evernote account just for her. Later I also created one for my son.
Two years passed and I didn't do much adding to that notebook. That all changed when she entered the first grade this year and I wanted to give her teachers some access to the work that she was doing at home. As they are using Evernote for Portfolios in their classroom I wanted to create a two way dialogue of my daughter (and son's) ongoing discoveries and growth. In addition, my wife and I decided to give her a used i-touch. She is a huge fan of books on tape and this tool would allow her to have a large collection of books close at hand. In addition she has always used our camera and phone to document her creations and explorations and we thought that having her own camera would allow her to continue this work at a pace that worked for her. I created an Evernote account just for her so she could begin to create her own portfolio. While she hasn't fully embraced the portfolio work on her own, she loves for me to document her and is more than happy to narrate any pictures that I take.
Below you will see an example of the kind of documentation that I am doing at home. It is something that I feel is vital to the ongoing exploration of portfolio as a tool for better understanding my daughter, as well as sharing her important work with others that care about her. I have invited her grandparents to share her notebook, as well as her teachers. While her grandparents are delighted to see what she is up to, her teachers are excited to get a glimpse of the girl they only get to see in a classroom setting. In both cases the adults in her life get to know her a little bit better and use that knowledge to support her and talk with her. The example below showed her teachers that she was transferring knowledge that she was gaining in her first grade class beyond the classroom walls. This kind of insight deeply supports the work that her teachers are doing and acknowledges to my daughter that adults care about what she is doing and that it is worth recording and sharing.
Imagine this kind of shared documentation and opportunity for reflection being done throughout the educational life of a child. Imagine how much more we could support each child if their parents and teachers were part of an ongoing conversation inside and outside of school. How might this kind of collaboration change the educational life of a child? How might this kind of collaboration begin to break down the false barriers between school and home learning?
This is just a first peek into the possibilities that lie within an ever deepening and expanding use of e-portfolios.