Collaboration Opportunity

Hello Everyone in my Professional Learning Network,

DODH_collab opportunity

Won’t you join us in learning about ePortfolios in Education?

Two Collaboration Opportunities:

ePortfolios in Your Classroom Survey & Why we use ePortfolios

Over the next month I will be looking at my own practice of how we use our ePortfolios in Grade 2ag. The reason behind this is twofold. Firstly, I am in the final stage of my Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy (CoETaIL) and need to develop and execute a collaborative project which showcases my understanding.  My collaborations will happen both within the School and across my nexus. Additionally, my students will be preparing material for their ePortfolios ahead of Student Led Conferences and I want to develop our proficiency and style as users. It is my first year with this platform, so I want to really use it more effectively to communicate student understanding. Seems like a pretty good match of need & opportunity.

Amore detailed description of what I hope to accomplish is developing on my blog Digging Out of a Digital Hole. Please, subscribe while you are there, if you are so inclined. I am trying to grow my Professional Learning Network and would love to connect with you.

From Cranking Up the Machine….

“It’s time to kickoff the Digital Portfolio Task Force. Over the next five weeks 2ag and a team of educators will completely change the way Grade Two students engage with their ePortfolios. All initiatives will be centered on improving stu
dent learning. We will examine how to better utilize iPads when contributing content. Also how to improve quality of video by and enrich content accessibility and connectivity of our ePortfolios by adding tags and categories. Most importantly, we will be examining what role our ePortfolios play in a student’s learning over the entire course of a student’s educational career. The goal is evolution of our practice. Join us.”

What I hope to have from you:

Thank you in advance for your participation & patience. It is much appreciated,


Digging Out of a Digital Hole

Primary Portfolio Agreements Infographic

Primary Portfolio Agreements headerA central focus of portfolios is the assessment of student understanding. To accomplish this mammoth task of collecting evidence, Teacher’s look for clues across the curriculum by which we measure the Student in knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action. All subjects contribute to a holistic learning experience and therefore feature in the portfolio. Added complexity comes from the fact that it is a year-long document of student progress which cycles through the terms. To create these agreements, feedback was acquired and a review cycle took place to examine our current portfolio agreements and expectations. As our school will be shifting to digital next year and in order to further enhance everyone’s understanding, our portfolio committee created this infographic to help outline the major sections. It is to be used in conjunction with the Primary Portfolio Agreements which contains the full list of requirements. With new procedures and new new teachers in different grade levels it is important to make this as easy s possible. We chose to present the information this way because as Wikipedia says “Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends.”

As a way to digitize our assessment in portfolios, as well as to assist Teachers with all Primary Portfolio contributions is a Google Keep in the form of a checklist to keep everyone organized. Check out more on Using Google Keep for Portfolios. Both the infographic and the Keep will be shared with the Primary Staff by our Primary ePortfolio Committee at the In-Service day in April.

Please find the full document below:




Using Google Keep with Portfolios

DODH Google Keep Portfolios

Often found in the front page of portfolios is a checklist which includes all requirements for the curation of Student work. A central focus of portfolios is assessment of Student understanding and the checklist represents an easy way to keep track of what has been included and what is still to be contributed. An essential tool for all involved.

As a way to digitize our assessment in portfolios, as well as to assist Teachers with all Primary Portfolio additions is a Google Keep checklist to keep organized. The lists are broken down into Terms 1 2 & 3  and have all curricular sections represented. When the Student or Teacher saves the assignment to the portfolio, a quick update of the checklist makes it easy to stay organized. Please note that the checklist image above is a visual of what the Students and Teachers use. I can share it directly with you via email address but Keep does not allow for mass sharing. We will share the document internally within our school but by copying your own School’s and pasting into Keep makes your list for you automatically. A very quick process. 

Additional information which helps to frame the philosophy of our School can be found within the Primary Portfolio Agreements Infographic. Both the infographic and the Keep will be shared with the Primary Staff by our Primary ePortfolio Committee at the In-Service day in April.

Over the Hills and Far Away?


Categories and Tags help you navigate the mountains of information, just follow the footsteps….

One of the big focuses for my Digital Portfolio Task Force is to examine the use of categories and tags in student portfolios. It is hoped that by using these navigation tools more effectively it will allow the student’s work to come to life and their understanding to the forefront.

It seems simple, for this is what categories and tags were designed for. They help sift through the shifting sands, navigating digital content to quickly locate the relevant information. Not unlike Nomads wandering the desert guided only by stars; in practice it is not so straightforward. For an excellent description of how best to use categories and tags let us turn to KeriLynn Engel of the Elegant Themes Blog. She calls it the skeleton of your blog.

“In understanding the difference between categories and tags, it’s helpful to think of your blog like a book. Categories work like the chapters of a book: All of a book’s content is organized into chapters. Looking at the title of each chapter will give you a good idea of the topics the book covers and how it’s organized. If the book author or editor wanted to change, add, or remove any chapters, it’d be a pretty big structural change for the book.
Tags work more like the book’s index. Indexes are a much longer list of more specific topics the book mentions. If a topic is in the index, it’s probably covered (albeit briefly, maybe) in more than one area of the book. A book’s index is usually much longer than the table of contents, and adding or removing an item doesn’t affect the structure of the book.” Best Practices For Using Categories And Tags In WordPress

Earlier in this post I protested that it was not as straightforward as it seemed, and it’s not. For adult oriented platforms such as WordPress or EasyBlog; categories and tags are a mainstay. Used as navigation tools, they become as clear and applicable as road maps directing you through the globe to your desired location. However within the realm of a Grade 2 classroom, on the EasyBlogJr platform, they do not exist. This is where the conundrum begins.

As the students are not able to add categories or tags to their work; the beast of burden, nay; the opportunity, falls upon the teacher to add the signposts of student understanding.  The students plan, create  and execute the content based on their learning; adding it to their blog. It is at this stage, before the teacher publishes the post; where the categories and tags can be added. This can be quite difficult to establish and initially time-consuming, though it should be pointed out that it is not an onerous task. The real work goes into planning the chapters of your book and identifying the words to be indexed by, as alluded to by Engle. On my Tags & Categories Glossary (please add yours!) you will find the list of categories and tags created for use within my own classroom and across our Primary School. They are based in our curriculum and my own educational philosophy. As we are a PYP school, the majority of content is delineated by the natural pillars of the PYP. The vocabulary translates directly to tags while the major chapters shaped by the broader strokes of our education form the categories. Created by me, digested by the Primary Digital Portfolio Committee at ICS, in collaboration with the Digital Portfolio Task Force and put into practice in 2ag.  

From my own experience on Digging Out of a Digital Hole and my 2ag classroom blog, I know that categories and tags evolve and change as the author finds their way through the changing curriculum and communication needs. My own on DODH categories and tag’s  have changed several times. After my first year, I needed to do a category reboot of my postings. Once I got the hang of it, I developed a greater understanding of how the architecture works behind the scenes. With this in mind, I went out of my way to create a comprehensive tag list and identify the categories early in the year so that they can be established and effectively utilized each time. In order to add them all to the baseline dictionary of my blog, I wrote a post explaining what purpose they serve and how they can be applied to a Student’s work. This meant that not only did the readers who access the blog understand their purpose, but they were then populated on each Student’s site for the year ahead.

To revisit the skeleton analogy, once established, categories and tags allow you to connect student learning and understanding. Now comes fleshing the rest of it out. Check out how incredibly complex yet simple the human body can be. Enjoy building your ePortfolio Frankenstein with your class.

Categories & Tags Glossary

“Words Are Important was my favourite lesson in Primary School. I loved learning about words and their meanings. Vocabulary is a beautiful word in itself and gives people the power to express themselves.”

Digging Out of a Digital Hole’s Category Word Bank

Language, Mathematics, Unit of Inquiry, CAS, Arts, German

Digging Out of a Digital Hole’s Tag Word Bank

Learner Profile, Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced, Reflective, Key Concepts, Form, Function, Connection, Causation, Change, Perspective, Responsibility, Reflection, Attitudes & Attributes, Appreciation, Commitment, Confidence, Empathy, Enthusiasm, Independence, Cooperation, Creativity, Curiosity, Integrity, Respect, Tolerance, Units of Inquiry, How We Organize Ourselves, How We Express Ourselves, Where We Are in Time & Place, Who We Are, Sharing the Planet, How the World Works, HWW, HWEO, WWATP, STP, WWA, HWOO, English as Additional Language, Learning Support, LS, EAL, Deutsch, Drama, Music, Physical Education, Technology Integration, Dance, Language, Mathematics, Unit of Inquiry, UoI, Drama, Arts Integration, Portfolio, Art, Digital Citizenship, Assembly, Kelso’s Choice Wheel, 5SH buddies, Pursue your Passion, Achieve your Potential, Fulfil your Responsibility, Grade 2, lifelong learner, Philosophy for Children, iPads, Ms Moon, Ms Johnson, Ms Beamish, Ms Lewis, Ms Porter, Mr Stefan, Ms Suery, Ms Judith, Ms Reichmuth, Ms Byle, Ms Ruiz, Ms Miras, Ms Greenblatt, Mr Beard, Ms Rose, Zurich, Zumikon, Switzerland, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera

Add your own bank of words to DODH Tags and Category List which is intended for everyone’s use. Please share.

categories and tags get you home without all the inadvertent adventures!

categories and tags get you home without all the inadvertent adventures!


Community Engagement Mission Statement

birds on a Limmat River railing

Birds of a feather flock together.

As I embark on my Community Engagement Mission, I will need to rely on the expertise and friendship of many individuals and groups. Therefore, I am founding a Digital Portfolio Task Force. Over the next five weeks 2ag and a team of Educators will completely change the way Grade Two students engage with their ePortfolios. All initiatives will be centered on improving student learning. In order to fully understand the varied perspectives, I plan to cast a wide net to encompass ePortfolios across my sphere of influence. I intend to reach out to the following groups of people:

First off, my immediate colleagues. Our Primary School Teaching Team has many levels, not only do we plan, teach and assess curriculum together; but we have similar protocols, needs and materials at our fingertips. Platforms, programmes and policies are all the same for us.  Central to this tier, are my Second Grade teaching team; including the PYP Coordinator and all Specialists Subject Teachers of Dance/Drama, Music, Art & Physical Education. My goal is to facilitate whole school wide discussion, deepening our understanding and improving practice while sharing our creativity.

In the second level,  I will be working with my internal Professional Learning Network which also helps to support this initiative. Again, in this tier the Primary Technology Integrationist appears;, but also includes The impact of the  director of elearning, primary leadership team and the digital portfolio work group.  This level steers the ship and navigating the way forward in terms of direction, execution and participation.

The third level will be centred around Parents. Their understanding of ePortfolios, their opinion of their child’s engagement and benefit as well as their own experience with them.  

The fourth level is related to School communications. How the School shares their policies, practices in a documented form. Specifically the resource’s location, accessibility and ease-of-use.

Fifth will be my external Professional Learning Network, cultivated over decades but  intensively farmed in the last 2 years after the creation of Digging Out of a Digital Hole. Shaped by various forces such as CoETaIL, Digital Dominance, Digital Duopoly, AppsEvents, Twitter, Instagram and the Google revolution in education.  My enjoyment is fueled by my passion as a practitioner of educational technology; I feel that this is the most exciting  profession in the world. Radical change is sweeping through education, not only are teachers being better trained and resourced than ever before; the altered landscape includes developments in curriculum, student learning, instructional techniques and assessment. With so many methods to communicate understanding within the community, I will endeavour to share my process and findings outward. There are so many inspiring examples of people trying to change the world, I am just proud to associate and share ideas with them. I have them to thank for developing my pedagogy and philosophy while challenging me to make a difference as well.

Lastly, perhaps unfairly, the Students. Despite their last place ranking, the Students are the central focus of what needs to take place and why. The goal always is to improve student learning, but this group are mentioned last because I believe strongly that first the teachers must have a clear understanding of purpose; before they can fully communicate their goals and desires. Collaboration with this demographic from the Educator side is essential; but no more so than the need to promote peer-to-peer contributions. Students will work in a shared partnership with the Teachers, but policy and its implementation within the classroom trumps end user collaboration. This only occurs once the big picture of the philosophy of ePortfolios comes into focus.


ePortfolios in Your Classroom – Comprehensive Survey

Please join my Digital Portfolio Task Force

It’s time to kickoff the Digital Portfolio Task Force. Between now and the end of April, 2ag and a team of educators will completely change the way Grade Two students engage with their ePortfolios. All initiatives will be centered on improving student learning.

Follow along #DODHePortfolios on Twitter and add your information to the link below to connect with the group.

 Let me in! I want to join others learning about ePortfolios

Please add your experience with Digital or ePortfolios by completing this survey. ePortfolios in Your Classroom. It should take you less than 10 minutes. Thank you for your time and candour. I look forward to sharing with you.