Very recently, I stumbled upon a comment on twitter by Oliver Quinlan about Negotiated Learning.

I followed a link to his blog and read this :

“Mr Quinlan… can I show you something..?”

You don’t have to have been teaching long to have had one of those moments; when a pupil brings you something amazing they have done of their own accord. When left to their own devices children and young people can often come up with the most exciting examples of their learning

I decided to introduce the idea to my Primary 6 stage class last week – and they loved it. I wanted to stress that the idea wasn’t about regurgitating what they already knew, but that the point was to learn something new then share this new learning with their peers.

  I quickly made a makeshift ‘first ideas’ proposal sheet for them to complete.

They were allowed to work on the task on their on, in pairs, or in small groups.

There was a buzz of excitement in the class as they all made their choices about what they were going to learn. The excitement obviously spilled to areas outwith the class, because the HT mentioned how she’d overheard some Primary 6s discussing their ‘negotiated learning’. I hadn’t had the opportunity to share the concept with her … but I think she’s sold on the idea, too now :-)

Here’s some of the new learning that took place last week:

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Last week Primary 6V  hosted a ‘Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet’ information evening. I think the title is more meaningful than the usual ‘Internet Safety’ one. I chose it because (quite a while ago now) I read a post on Ollie Bray’s blog describing the subtle difference between the two phrases. I can’t find the link to Ollie’s original post, but we did use some of the free Internet Safety and Responsible Use Cartoon Illustrations  he blogged about more recently – the class loved them!

The aim of the evening was to enable the children to share:

  • how they have been using Glow blogs and wikis in school and at home to improve learning
  • what they have learned about the dangers of the internet
  • strategies they use to keep themselves safe online

I introduced the class to prezi and they all voted to use that instead of their powerpoint presentation. I’ve included a copy of it here.

It’s taken me longer than I’d intended to blog about this.

I’ll also try to blog about our attempts at ‘Negotiated Learning’ before the end of term. The children are loving it – thanks to Oliver Quinlan for the idea :-)

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btc5

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about a CPD session I attended on Building the Curriculum 5 : A Framework for Assessment while I was on secondment.

At the time, I wrote:

……We looked at how we might put this in to practice and were given a scenario so that we could assess an aspect of Literacy. After some discussion we looked at emerging approaches to assessment .

These come with a ‘warning’ message:

However, in their day-to-day practice, practitioners would not be expected to document the assessment process for all learners in this kind of detail. It will be up to local authorities and establishments to decide how evidence of learning is to be captured, evaluated and used to inform next steps in learning and teaching.”

At the time, I thought that, as it’s just not possible to provide that much detail about each student’s learning without compromising learning and teaching time, might we end up going back to paying lip-service to assessment (PLP’s, Self-assessment, Peer-assessment, etc.)?

I wondered what would happen if students were allowed (encouraged/trusted/guided?) to assess their own learning via ePortfolios?

Now that I’m back in class and have set up (emerging?) ePortfolios using Glow Wikis , I’m keeping an eye out to see how the students in my class are using them. Although the children all set out to record their achievements inside and outside of school – as demonstrated introductory statemements (Anna’s is embedded below), assessing your own learning is more complex.


Yesterday at school, however, I had an interesting conversation with Mason.

We’d been doing some work on decimals and I gave them a small slip of paper home with some examples (not something I would normally do – but the ‘homework’ issue is for another blog post!).

Mason mentioned that his was on his ePortfolio. I was confused at the time, but I was pleasantly surprised when I had a look later to see how he’d used his (boring?) homework and his ePortfolio as a vehicle to self-assess his learning in maths.

I am good at maths and I am especially good at decimals. I just started decimals a couple of days ago and I am finding it really easy to understand.Here is my maths homework from today (5.5.11).

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I took this picture with apple’s ipod touch 4th generation. I also enjoy doing adding. Out of adding,subtracting and dividing, adding would have to be my favourite. Fractions are my least favourite.My teacher,mrs.V told me and my class that decimals are easier than fractions.”

Thanks Mason – your ePortfolio post told me lots more about your understanding of decimals (and your ability/liking of photography) than your little slip of paper alone handed in on time would have done :-)

Although, like Jaye ,I’ve seen blogs and wikis peter out in the past when children move from Primary School to Secondary, I’m hoping that they won’t ‘wither on the vine in Secondary School’ this time as Jaye predicts in her recent comment on here .

My fingers are crossed that the children understand the potential of their ePortfolios and use them ‘just because’ .. just like Mason did :-)

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My last post ended with a remark about what the future holds for for our class emerging ePortfolios. I was delighted that Jaye Richards took the time to write an indepth comment to the post shortly after reading it – it was Jaye, after all, who inadvertently led me to the concept of ePortfolios via twitter … and I’ve been sold on the idea ever since :-)

 I made an attempt to reply to her comment but after reading her follow-up blog post on the subject and her thought-provoking accounts of her own experiences, I decided that another blog post on here was the best way to reply. She got me thinking about the stumbling blocks that have been encountered when children I’ve taught in the past have moved on to High School. I also went on a trip down memory lane this evening and experienced (again) some of the frustrations that Jaye talks about in her post.  I’ll quote from Maryam’s transition blog posts to try to demonstrate what I mean.

  • Towards the end of primary 7 at Carronshore, Maryam wrote on her blog” My favourite thing ever is English. I love reading and writing. They are the only two things that are important too me. I have been writing quite alot of posts about reading and writing, well i just love writing and stuff. …. I can’t wait to get to high school  to ask my English teacher for advice for getting really good ideas. “
  • In this blog post she describes the excitement as her entry to High School looms ever closer: “I can’t believe we have finished primary school already! Its a bit quick. Well we still have a couple of weeks left of school but it doesn’t feel like it. We are finally the oldest in Primary school but now we will be back to the youngest in high school. That’ll be a bit hard. I’m looking forward too all the new lessons there and making new friends and stuff. I just cab’t wait for tommorow.”
  • Maryam is now in 1st year at high school (last term):  “I thought i would go on my blog just for old times sake. High school has been SOOO weird. It’s like i have been there all my life and not been to primary school once, but i have not forgotten primary school, I MISS IT SO MUCH. We have been doing all sorts of stuff and we have had sooo much .. drama? I think that is the word for it. It has been so BIZZARE. I have just chosen my subjects before the easter holidays. It was kind of depressing.”
  •  Her final post on her blog was when she entered 2nd year (she’s already regretting her subject choice) “So yes, it has been almost a month of school and i am in second year. It is alot harder than i thought, well kind of. I did choose the subjects i wanted , [i still regret picking some of them]!”

Maryam’s posts dried up soon after this, but her experience of her transition to High School echo the thoughts in Jaye’s post  when she wrote:

 “my old school is now making children choose their examinable subjects two thirds of the way through S1 !!

If I had my way, they wouldn’t even get ‘distinct’ subjects until S3…”

Hmmm!!

Anyway – back to my post title! –  ePortfolios and Transition Stages.

 

I’m hoping that the ePortfolios might succeed where the blogs alone failed. Maybe if the children know that the purpose of them is to demonstrate progress in their learning journey, then the responsibility for the upkeep and the freedom to choose what is included would enhance the feeling of ownership. The wikis seem to accommodate the ‘growth’ aspect more than a blog (even with tagging, etc).

I love the way Kian has already set his pages up for Primary 7 and his transition to High School.  All the children choose their own layout and this one obviously made more sense to him.

I also really like his ‘Life Achievement’ section – others have used this phrase when referring to their ePortfolios. Check out Alyson’s ‘sticky’ post on her Glow Blog :-)

Click on the loveheart to see my ePortfolio.I have all my achievements  inside and outside school!!!

(All my achievement through out my life) Fingers cross it works!!!

I also really like Andrew’s ePortfolio layout. He felt it was important to include a page with links to his favourite Glow Blog posts:

I have a blog as well as this ePortfolio. Click here to visit it. I am going to put some of my favourite blog posts in this section of my ePortfolio. So use the links in the banners below to view my best blog posts.

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The children are already asking questions about what will happen to their Glow Blogs and Wikis when they move on to Primary 7 and then on to High School.

Ideally, I’d like to support them for one more year to continue to provide feedback …… but that’s not for me to decide :-) 

Feedback is a very important ingredient if an ePortfolio is to succeed. It’s mostly oral in Primary, but the wikis have a comment facility that could be used by Secondary staff in S1 and beyond?

Too many questions still unanswered – time to publish :-)

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