I have one student in my class who has difficulty processing information. He works incredibly hard but his brain just doesn't allow him to make connections from taking in information to processing the information and doing a task with ease. I have been struggling to get him to write and often produce any form of work. Even with one on one instruction, he could spend an entire period and still only have a few sentences on a page. We have tried a variety of different strategies to help him communicate his ideas in whatever way he can but often, we still come up short... until this past week.
Our E-portfolios our a big part of my class as it promotes self-reflection, showcases their work and can be shared with parents, friends and our community. As you might have imagined, this would be a task that would become difficult for the child mentioned above. In the first unit, all of the pieces he inserted required me sitting next to him talking him through it step by step until he finished. While he is still very tech savvy, the processing all of the steps becomes too much at some point and the task wouldn't get finished.
I had a meeting with the parent and we were just discussing the child's overall ability when he mentioned he had an Instagram account he was always on outside of school. As I walked out of the meeting, I thought to myself "Why not let him do what he enjoys doing? Why not give him the platform that works best for him?"
So off I went barging into the tech office with this idea of using Instagram for his E-portfolio now. Unfortunately, Instagram is blocked on our server I found out but using an alternate program that essentially mimics this idea was our next option - Blogger.
When I talked to the student he was interested in 'trialling' this special idea I had that only he could help me with. So together, we set up a blog and linked it to an iPod. The idea was simple - take pictures as you work throughout the day and write a comment about it. This was to be his modified portfolio. If the idea was to reflect on his work, perhaps this was a way he would be able to connect what he was already doing outside of school with Instagram to what he did inside the classroom.
Instantly we saw results! This past week we had only 3 days of teaching, and he already has 7 posts. Not bad for someone who only had 3 posts total of reflection for the current section of his portfolio. Not only did he capture moments of his work, he made others capture him in action too so he could include that. The boy who had struggle putting together a single sentence on paper now was able to put at least a sentence or two together for each picture he posted.
What else improved? He self image. When he knew he could succeed, he wanted to do more. A single sentence and picture was enough.
So I guess now I ask myself - how are we differentiating our e-portfolios to meet our student's needs? How do we ensure they can reflect on a work that is meaningful to them? I am wondering how other students will feel after a while and if they will want to take on this model as well? I wonder how my student's writing will progress moving forward.
It seems so simple. Taking a picture, posting it to the internet and making a comment but yet to me, this has been one of the biggest successes for me all year. We are trialling this idea for the next month with him and I am so excited to see where he takes it. In three days, he has transformed in the classroom and as a writer both digitally and on paper. I am incredibly proud of his progress and the best part is - he is too!