For the last two weeks or so, we have been pulling together all the threads of our extended unit of inquiry into Issues in Africa. We are using Wikispaces to host student digital portfolios (see requirements below):

Students not only explored alternate genres and mediums for sharing key learnings from their research using multigenre elements (see options below), but they also learned how to embed RSS feeds and HTML code, how to publish their Evernote notebooks, and how to upload other kinds of content, such as PowerPoint and Publisher files; students also linked to published work created in Google Docs.  Our helpful handouts to scaffold these skills include:

If you are interested in knowing more about multigenre elements resources, you can check out my multigenre research project resource page as well as the latest menu (which Susan and I will update in February 2011) of options (students were also welcome to submit alternate genres):

You can see all digital portfolios by clicking here and see where we are on our learning continuum;  here you will see student multigenre elements, presentation slidedecks, RSS feeds or links to their learning blogs, collaborative research papers created in Google Docs, a link to their Evernote notebook, and the discussion area we used during our peer review.

We also took a day of class to engage in peer review of the learning portfolios.  My co-teacher Susan Lester and I created this document to give students a springboard for constructive feedback; they also used this form to provide feedback on the “discussion” tab of a fellow student’s page.  We took the class rolls, cut the names into strips, and had students draw a name from their own class period pool (we teach sections–4th and 7th periods) as well as one name from the other class.  See the peer review form below:

I’d like to thank Ben M., Casey, Ben. F, and Bryce for taking a few minutes to share their thoughts on their learning experiences of the last few weeks, the digital portfolios, and the multigenre elements.  You can see their portfolios at:

I will be spotlighting more portfolios in the next few days, particularly those with interesting and creative multigenre elements.  I hope you enjoy browsing our students’ work and hearing some of their reflections on their participatory learning experiences this past semester in 10th World Literature/Composition.

5 thoughts on “Digital Portfolios, Multigenre Elements, and More: Media 21 / Learning 21 Students Reflect On Participatory Learning, Fall 2010

  1. Buffy, this is so inspirational. I enjoyed going through all the work of each of your students. I love how many types of media they used for both research and artifacts. This is a great class – I wish I could take it (or teach it!).


  2. Buffy,
    You never cease to amaze me! Your willingness to share what you are accomplishing with your students helps to inspire others.

    Perhaps you have answered this somewhere else – if so, just point me there! Why did you decide to use Wikispaces rather than Netvibes for the student portfolios?


    1. Hi Fran!

      First, I’m very humbled by your comments–thank you so much for those words of encouragement, which are tremendously appreciated!

      You ask a great question! Last year, we used Google Sites for portfolios 1st semester, and then we added the Netvibes “layer” the 2nd semester. This year, we decided to start with Wikispaces for the learning portfolios for a couple of reasons. This year’s group definitely came with less technology skill proficiency as well as a hefty dose of apprehension of using technology, and in some cases, outright hatred of technology—we thought in light of these feelings, it might be better to start them with a tool that has a gentler learning curve than Google Sites. In addition, many other teachers have been using Wikispaces with the support of the library, so we thought we could reinforce the use of that tool and hopefully, their skill level with Wikispaces, by going that route. One other thing we learned last year is that it becomes a little cumbersome and unwieldy to click on 60+ links to individual portfolios. With the larger class sizes this year, we thought it might be better (at least first semester) to have one central place for all students in both sections to post their work. This wound up being a smart move as it facilitated the students’ activity in which they provided feedback to each other in a more manageable way; it also made it easier for us as the teachers to explore and assess all of the portfolios.

      We’re still planning on introducing the concept of the information/learning dashboard next semester, but I’m rethinking a little how we might conceptualize that and if we will still need to create a portfolio in Wikispaces as well. I think the answers to that will become clearer by mid-February as Susan and I collaborate to look at the learning goals and how we want to use these tools to support student learning and for students to create content. We have a lot to think about the next 6 weeks!

      Thanks for taking time to read the post and to share your feedback as well as to ask that fantastic question. Let me know your thoughts on this!

      Buffy 🙂


  3. Thank you for your detailed answer! You know, it surprises me to read that some of your students had a dislike of technology at the beginning of your project. Have their feelings changed now that they have had more experience with it?

    Using a simpler tool (for the sake of students) that also enables you and your co-teacher to more easily check student work is brilliant 🙂

    I am hoping some day to encourage a teacher to collaborate with me on a simplified form of your project. So far, though, it has not happened. We are on the block schedule so our courses last only one semester and teachers feel the stress to “cover” work (hate that term).

    Convincing just one that we could indeed meet the standards, help students become better and more reflective researchers, and share the teaching load is my goal.

    Your posts detailing the work you have done are helping me to formulate my own collaborative project – that I hope to be able to use next year.

    Thank you again for making your practice transparent – your willingness to do helps not only the students at your school, but at others.


  4. Hi Buffy,
    I am in Wendy Drexler’s course at UF about creating personal learning environments. As part of the course, we are to conduct an inquiry on our topic of choice. I have decided that I would like to inquire on becoming a global citizen and how teachers can incorporate global education into their curriculum. I just listened to the elluminate session in which you spoke and talked about this project, and I had to learn more! I am really enjoying reading through your description of the project and viewing the students’ multigenres. This is a great incorporation of global education in the curriculum and it gives me some great ideas.
    Erika Stokes


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