ISTE Standard for Educators 4.c says educators should use collaborative tools to expand students’ authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally.
Collaborating: Student Feedback and Reflection
The school district I work for is getting ready to have our annual Celebration of Learning which showcases student achievements throughout the year. It’s a big open house where students can perform songs, show their artwork, demonstrate their archery skills, read the books they wrote, and show off the impressive calculations they made and how they used them to solve problems in science and math. But its more than just a presentation of the final products, though of course those are fun, it’s about the process it took to get to that spectacular product (EL Education). The district has been really leaning into using feedback and critique as well as student self assessments as ways to help students improve and grow, and the Celebration of Learning is a place where the town can see documentation of that process. However, collecting documentation of all the multiple drafts, the feedback from peers, and the self-reflections is a huge challenge! That’s why I’m looking for a tool that can help hold those collaborations between students on their work, and maybe even some reflections or self assessments, so that when it’s time to create a documentation panel of the hard work my students have done all year I’m not just rummaging through folders of quarter sheets of paper.
Digital portfolios are not a new idea, and in fact have been done using many tools in the past. I personally have used book creator, google slides, student websites, and even just folders on a computer to create collections of artifacts. The trouble I have with all of these tools is they serve as a place to put the finished product, but not to put the drafts as often, and certainly they are separate from the process of learning. They are the thing you put your work in when you are done, not a part of the working process. I wish there was a way to streamline things a bit more so that there wasn’t just another step of documentation at the end. Google is pretty close with their classroom, but it’s hard to set up sharing between students as most things seem directed to go between students and teachers rather than between students.
Spacesedu.org as a solution
Spacesedu is a digital portfolio tool that seemed at first glance to be a cross between Facebook and Google Classroom. Their tagline is “Growth over Grades” which was an instant hit for me, but I needed to know more. I started to look at what this tool had that others didn’t. I noticed that it was similar to Google classroom in a few ways that I like: it’s a familiar layout with the plus sign as a the “add new work for students” button. Even the general presentation of the content in a vertical stream chronologically was familiar. However, a few key changes seem important. Instead of having one classroom feed like Google, you have “spaces” for each type of work you want your students to do. The first space is the whole class space, this is for things like everyone gets their own copy of an article to annotate, or it could be everyone reads the same article and then shares their responses as a whole class. Then there is an individual space where they can put their private journals for the readings or self selected artifacts on personal academic goals like perfecting a riff in a song. Finally there is a group space where they are partnered up to give and receive feedback with a set group of peers, things like a group presentation or a group who will critique their work. The flexibility to do all of these projects using tools that we already have (google docs or word docs or links to the greater internet) are really wonderful! In all of these spaces the teacher can leave comments to help as well. Finally, the parents can see the work being done by their student if they are invited.
Potential drawbacks or challenges
Because you can do more, there are more tools to learn and manage. I notice that a teacher could import their student rosters from Google Classroom, but I wonder if that would be wise only because it feels like this should replace classroom, not be added in addition to it. That is I think my biggest challenge: I want to implement this tool right now, but I don’t think it’s the right time in the year to start a whole new learning platform as I know there will be a growing period. I know that with all these spaces there will be quite the learning curve for students and parents as well as myself!
Tips for implementation
Spacesedu has a ton of great tutorials and guides for everyone who may want to get online (teachers, students, administrators, families). I personally found it helpful to see the visual of the different types of spaces that are available and think about when and why I might post an assignment to each type of space. I also found their sentence stems helpful when you want to ask students to give feedback or add a self assessment.
I think that Speacesedu is going to be a great addition to my classroom, and I may even use it as a replacement for a tool I have used for a long time because it allows for better collaboration and easier documentation of my student’s learning. I think that this tool will help to redefine (TPaCK) what a digital portfolio can be in my classroom.
EL Education, https://eleducation.org/who-we-are/our-approach
International Society for Technology in Education (2016). Iste Standards: Educators. ISTE. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-teachers
Koehler, M. (2012, Sept 24). TPACK explained. TPaCK.org. http://www.tpack.org/
2 Replies to “Finding enough space”
It appears that Spaceedu is a great tool for keeping a record of a student’s progress, and also, students could learn to reflect and collaborate through the group space feature. I like how its approach is to help and monitor growth instead of grades. Great post!
What an incredible way to demonstrate knowledge and skill, and apply that learning in a fun showcase. I am very curious to see how the digital portfolios capture the development of work and not just finished products. Exciting!