Saturday, August 10, 2013

Being Heard and Seen Through Related Arts Student Portfolio Blogs This Year

Yesterday the teachers at Van Meter went back to school for our teacher professional development workdays.  It was fun seeing everyone.....every year I get so excited for that first day back! 

Part of my day was spent with my PLC or Personal Learning Community.  

I am part of the Related Arts PLC which includes my wonderful friends Bobbi Daggett and Shelley Broderick, who teach the elementary art classes, and Marsha Fries, who is the elementary music teacher.  Last year we worked on bringing our subjects and classrooms together through collaborative projects throughout the year. 

At the end of last year, the girls and I, along with our friend and elementary PE teacher, Bart Jones, decided to create and pilot student portfolios with our 4th and 5th graders.  

The 4th and 5th graders will also be piloting our first 1:1 iPad initiative at Van Meter this year so we thought the timing was perfect.  They will all have a device with them throughout the day where they can capture their learning in so many different ways. 
The first step was just to discuss our goals for the portfolios.  

As art, music, technology, and information literacy skills teachers, we wanted our students to be able to express themselves through their creativity, voice, collaboration, writing, and connections with others.  

We also wanted the platform to be something collaborative so we could all work together with each other.  Bobbi, Shelley, and Marsha have never done a project like digital portfolios so it was something they would also need my help with as we get started and throughout the year.  
As a group we decided that we would use KidBlog as the student portfolio platform.  We would bring our classes and subjects together to create the "Related Arts Portfolios" for each of the 4th and 5th grade classrooms.  

The first step was creating the KidBlogs for each of the classes.  

We created the four KidBlogs and added all of the students.  They will be all ready to go when the kids come back to school next week.  
To make it really easy for everyone to get to the KidBlogs anywhere I added them to the 5th Grade Symbaloo webmix.....

Everyone (students, teachers, parents, anyone) will be able to click on the tiles and it will take one right to that specific KidBlog.  This is how I organized our KidBlogs last year that we used during library and technology time and it worked great.  

They can get to our Symbaloo at school and outside of school on a variety of devices too.  
We are very excited about the students having iPads this year.  The KidBlog app is one that we will use with their portfolio posts.  
It is easy for the students to use on their iPads.  They can also add the KidBlog to an iPhone too, which several of our students have with them as well throughout the day.  

The KidBlog app will also be easy for myself and the others to go to all the different classrooms to make updates, approve posts, and make comments on the go.  
I love it too because they will be able to capture photographs and video right from the app to create a post. As I showed this to the girls, we talked about them video taping each other singing or conducting an art critique. Perhaps they are taking pictures of an art process that they have learned or a video of them playing a new instrument.  

When blogging, it isn't always necessary to include words.  Instead let photographs and video tell the story.  This can be such a powerful form of expression and one that anyone can be heard. 
This coming Thursday we are going to have a "KidBlog Related Arts Portfolio Kick Off Party" in the library during the time when the 5th graders come to art and the library.  The 5th graders, classroom teachers, related arts teachers, and myself will come together to talk about the portfolio goals, expectations, and of course blogging again.  

The 5th graders will also be blogging with their classroom teachers on their own classroom blogs so this will be a wonderful opportunity to discuss these as well.  
To make this even more exciting my dear friend Stephen Gagnon, who teaches 5th grade at Stratham Memorial School, in New Hampshire will be connecting his 5th grade students and classroom with ours throughout the year.  
After Kate Goodwin, one of the 5th grade teachers, and I Skyped with Steve yesterday, we have an awesome plan to start the year.  Steve will be joining us for the kick off on Thursday through Skype where he will talk to our students and teachers about blogging, commenting, and being connected to each other in a virtual classroom throughout the year.

He has done an incredible job at being successful with student blogging so I am happy about connecting and learning with Steve throughout the year too.

We are really excited about the related art portfolios and can't wait to see how our students voices are heard and their stories grow throughout the year.

The KidBlog Related Arts Portfolios are public so please visit their work and make comments too. We want to include the world in their journey.


  1. This is fantastic! What a wonderful collaboration!

    1. Thank you Lisa. And just think both your girls will be creating amazing related arts portfolio blogs all year long. :)

      And lots of blogging in their classrooms too.

      What a great year this is going to be.