Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Future Ready Survival Skills

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

AUTHOR: Leslie Barrett, Education Specialist: Instructional Technology & Library Media Services

Are we meeting the mark when it comes to preparing students for success in their post-graduate lives?

Tony Wagner, Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, wondered the same thing. He conducted interviews with leaders in major global businesses, non-profits, and government institutions and discovered that students regularly fall short in seven specific skill areas that are essential for success in today’s innovation-centric economy. As you read through Wagner’s seven “survival” skills below, consider what practices you can implement or enhance in your classroom, campus, or district to help your students become future ready.

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

According to Wagner’s definition, critical thinking is the ability to ask the right questions. Are we asking questions that require little more mental consideration than a Google search on a student’s smart phone? The use of Document Based Questions (DBQs ) in social studies and the Claim Evidence Reasoning (CER) framework in science are two ways to help students develop critical thinking skills in the context of content area instruction. When too many of our questions result in one right answer out of a possible 4 multiple choice options, we are missing opportunities to engage students in rich conversations in which they explain their thinking and justify their reasoning.

Collaboration & Leadership

In seeking solutions to problems, employees in the workforce will rarely work in isolation. They will be expected to collaborate with peers within organizational teams and access the input of a network of professional experts from across the globe. In contrast, the measure of success in our classrooms is based on the performance of the individual working alone. While we can’t always change our testing and grading structure, we can create opportunities for students to work in collaborative groups that are structured so that each member of the group is held accountable for his/her contribution. In addition, we can teach students how to safely access the input of experts using digital connections like social media and virtual conferencing.

Agility & Adaptability

We are living in a fast-paced and quickly changing time. Information, technology, and the problems organizations are working to solve are constantly changing. Employees need to be able to change alongside the demands of the job and adapt easily to new and evolving circumstances. Are we providing flexible learning environments that encourage students to identify and adapt elements that contribute to their maximum productivity? Are we creating opportunities for students to iterate; to observe and improve their own output? How often do we say to students, “Oh, that didn’t work. What other ideas do you have?”

Initiative & Entrepreneurism

An entrepreneurial spirit means harnessing opportunities and capitalizing on strengths to create products and services to fill needs. How often do we give students the freedom to think outside the box and provide innovative and creative ways to demonstrate their understanding of academic concepts? How often do we let them offer solutions to problems that may be occurring in the classroom, the school, the world? If we are always telling them what to do, how will they develop initiative and the ability to meet needs on their own?

Effective Oral & Written Communication

Through his research, Wagner discovered that students entering the workforce are severely deficient in their ability to speak and/or write. The problem is less about grammar and mechanics and more about students being unable to articulate their thinking in a logical manner with a compelling voice and persuasive argumentation. Reliance on the formulaic writing strategies traditionally used in classrooms restricts the critical thinking component that is necessary for effective communication. Do we let students write about topics they are passionate about? Are we giving them opportunities to write frequently in all subject areas? How often do we ask students deep questions and then give them sufficient “wait time” to develop and/or revise their oral responses? How often do we ask them to articulate the thinking behind their answers?

Accessing & Analyzing Information

Wagner says we have moved from a “knowledge economy” to an “innovation era”. When information is readily available 24 hours a day, the knowledge you possess is less valuable than what you are able to do with that knowledge. The true skill is being able to quickly access information and effectively analyze it for accuracy and relevance to the task. How often are we incorporating web-based texts in our instruction? Are we teaching students how to determine the reliability of the information they encounter online? Is research still only something we do during library time, or is it a part of regular instruction in all content areas?

Curiosity & Imagination

Innovation comes from curiosity and imagination. People who can ask the right questions and locate or iterate the answers to their questions are the people who are able to come up with unique products and services for a fast-paced world. How often do we encourage and allow students time to follow their curiosity and employ their imagination? Do we make time for Genius Hour during the school day? Have you thought about creating a Makerspace on campus for students?

By approaching our instructional practices with an awareness of these future ready survival skills we can look for opportunities to complement our traditional activities with new ideas for a new time.


Wagner, T. (2008). Rigor redefined. Educational Leadership, 66 (2). Retrieved from

From Chalkboard to the Circuit Board: An Overview of iPad Deployment in Region 13

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Author:  Jonathan Delgado -Education Specialist: Data & Accountability Systems

 You’ll likely spot it if you take a stroll in downtown Austin or through Main Street in Burnet: someone using a tablet or smartphone. Technology seems to have finally struck a meeting point of ease of use with a low price point. With that, it was only a matter of time before devices like Apple’s iPad found their way into the classroom. Across the nation, iPads are being utilized across all grade levels as an instrument for classroom instruction. This school year, many districts within Region 13 are deploying iPads for a number of purposes.  iPads allow students to work on projects, correspond with teachers, track their assignments, take notes, turn in homework, view grades, and in many cases, will serve as a replacement for huge and heavy textbooks. The days of students using chalk or a whiteboard, it seems, are slowly coming to an end.

Aside from its classroom function, iPads also serve as a simple way that the school district can communicate with their community. McDade and Flatonia ISDs have both developed an application that you can install on your iPhone or iPad that will display current school announcements, upcoming campus events, and list a directory of school and staff contact information. Hays CISD has a similar application and also supports the functionality of allowing parents to pay for students’ cafeteria balance. The iPad and iPhone are virtually always connected to the Internet, and parents and the communities have an always-on connection to their school district.

At the start of the 2012-13 school year, an estimated 10 school districts within Region 13 have some type of program to provide students with an iPad in a particular grade level or at a specific campus. The most ambitious of these programs is from Eanes ISD, which is piloting an iPad program at Westlake High School which allows every junior and senior to receive an iPad for instruction. The district has purchased about 1,700 iPads and hopes to keep the program well into the future. The following districts also have respective iPad programs:

  • Comal ISD – Recently approved the purchase of an iPad for district teachers with the eventual goal of having a tablet available for all middle and high school students.
  • Comfort ISD –During the September Board meeting, the district approved the purchase of iPads for every teacher to be used as an instructional tool.
  • Dripping Springs ISD – 4th grade students of Dripping Springs Elementary use an iPad for classroom learning and group projects.
  • Eanes ISD –Westlake High School students receive and use an iPad for instruction.
  • Gonzales ISD – Piloting a program for the use of iPads in the first grade.
  • Hays CISD – Received a $3,000 IBM Community Service Grant for the purchase of iPads for students.
  • Leander ISD – Has a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) program that allows students the use of an iPad, laptop, or smartphone from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Manor ISD – All high school students will receive in iPad for instruction. Manor is also piloting iPad programs at the elementary and middle school level but not at a 1:1 ratio.
  • New Braunfels ISD – Incoming freshman have received an iPad and the entire Grade 9-12 population will receive the device next fall.
  • San Marcos CISD – Piloting a program at Travis Elementary where one of two devices are being used to support classroom instruction: iPad and Amazon’s Kindle. The district hopes to provide access to all students in the near future.

These school districts are in good company. In 2011, Apple, Inc. reported that approximately 400 school districts had begun to use the iPad to replace traditional tools like textbooks and paper gradebooks. Many administrators agree that devices like the iPad are not just about getting a “cool” device into the classroom but instead are about increasing student learning and thinking outside of the box.

6 Reasons Your Students Need You to Read This Article (and Take Action)

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Author: Lannon Heflin – Program Manager for Instructional Technology

Consider the six skills categories listed here and ask yourself, “How prepared are my students to excel in each of these universally important strands of living and learning?”

  1. Creativity and innovation
  2. Communication and collaboration
  3. Research and information fluency
  4. Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
  5. Digital citizenship
  6. Technology operations and concepts

There is no doubt you agree that your students deserve a well-rounded educational experience that prepares them to be “world ready.” Fortunately, new standards for Technology Applications (TA TEKS*) have been approved and passed into law and they provide an excellent framework for educators to build truly transformative learning experiences.   The question is how prepared do you feel to integrate skills in the six strands mentioned above into daily instruction as you ensure you are meeting your obligation to teach the required technology applications curriculum for your grade level (specifically grades K-8)?

Regardless of how you answered this question, you will want to take advantage of a unique, free and high impact professional development opportunity.  Here is what you need to know.

The Texas Education Agency has released, through each Education Service Center, three facilitated online courses designed to get you successfully planning with the new TA TEKS quickly and with great confidence.  The courses are provided in grade bands K-2, 3-5 and 6-8.

Quoting from, “The courses are free and will be offered to ISDs and Open Enrollment Charter schools that have Project Share accounts. They will be delivered completely online and the participants will earn 6 CPE hours.  Each Regional Education Service Center (ESC) will have at least one facilitator to offer these courses online through Project Share.” Additionally at this link you will find the appropriate contact information for your ESC (for non-ESC Region XIII schools).

ESC Region XIII schools and systems can find all the enrollment details and passwords at this link.

A few important details to remember:

  • For ESC XIII the facilitated courses enrollment window is August 1st – August 30th and enrollment is capped at 30 for each course.
  • Course work begins on August 30th and ends on October 11th.
  • Course activity includes interacting with other educators and creating, sharing and teaching a technology integrated lesson in your classroom.
  • Non-classroom teachers are welcome to enroll, but it is important that you partner with a classroom teacher to complete the activities.
  • Additional offers for these courses will be made in late fall, spring and summer.



*I wrote about the transition to the new TA TEKS in last August in the very first In-Sight Newsletter publication (  This August, I want to kick off the new In-Sight Newsletter season and new school year with this invitation. You can view the TA TEKS here

Managing e-Portfolios

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Author:  Juan Orozco, Instructional Technology Specialist

Personal e-portfolios have been widely used at the university level for assessment, for presentations and to showcase student accomplishments. Recently, there has also been a rise in the use of personal e-portfolios at the K-12 level. Consider the following sixth grade standard:

6) Technology operations and concepts. The student uses technology concepts, systems, and operations as appropriate for a project. The student is expected to:

6Hvi. collect and organize student-created products to build an individual portfolio.


According to Lorenzo & Ittelson (2005a) “a student e-portfolio, can be used to showcase accomplishments and give students an audience for reflection and feedback.” They describe the six major functions of e-portfolios as being:

  1. Documentation of student learning
  2. Course and educational planning
  3. Evaluation of the course itself
  4. Future job opportunities artifacts
  5. Performance evaluation of content
  6. Program development

Barrett (1997) believes that the following elements should be incorporated in any portfolio, either traditional or electronic:

  • Learning goals should be clear.
  • Criteria for the selected materials should be transparent.
  • Products should be selected by the student and teacher.
  • Feedback is essential.
  • Student reflection is needed.
  • Exemplar work should be included.

It is worth noting that the same e-portfolio can meet the needs of a diverse group of individuals viewing the same content. Also, now with the advancements of some of the e-portfolio applications, these tools can permit varying degrees of audience access, which gives the creator of these learning artifacts great flexibility for distribution.

There are many tools on the web that can be used to house and manage an e-portfolio. One such tool is “My ePortfolio” which is a component of Project Share. The essential elements to consider when evaluating an e-portfolio tool are: accessibility, portability and distribution capability. Other considerations should be in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other state and federal laws, as well as in compliance with district policies.  These considerations should be a part of the conversation when selecting any e-portfolio tool.

When considering the elements above, I can see why Project Share’s “My ePortfolio” is slowly becoming Texas teachers’ e-portfolio choice. One of the best things about this service is that it offers a lifetime personal account. Also, the service has the ability to send one link to your e-portfolio and it incorporates “Access Keys,” which limit access only to the content you wish to share. This goes a long way towards protecting students. Other tools available in “My ePortfolio” are the “Content Repository,” which has every New York Times article since 1851 housed within its database, and the “OnTRACK” online course content, which can be used to supplement and enrich a student’s educational experience. Having access to such rich educational content and the ability to incorporate these learning tools into the student’s e-portfolio support the diverse learning needs of our students. The Texas Educational Agency is to be commended for making this powerful tool available for free to all Texas students and teachers.   

If you would like to hear more about “My ePortfolio,” or some of the other features that are a part of Project Share, feel free to contact Instructional Technology here at ESC Region XIII, or email You can also register for free to the Project Share: ePortfolio video series (SU1224505) to learn more.



E.R. Cohn, and B.J. Hibbitts. “Beyond the electronic portfolio: a lifetime personal web space,” Educause Quarterly, 27, no. 4 (2004), accessed July 22, 2012,


G. Lorenzo, & J. Ittelson, J.” An overview of e-portfolios,” EduCause Learning Initiative Paper 1 (2005, July).


H. C. Barrett, “Collaborative planning for electronic portfolios: Asking strategic questions.” Last modified 1997,


“OnTRACK for College Readiness,” Institute for Public School Initiatives, last modified 2010,



M. Ramirez,  “Ferpa and student work: Considerations for electronic theses and dissertations,” The Magazine of Digital Library Research, January 2010, accessed July 20, 2012,






And still, outside of school, people wrote…

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Author: Susan Diaz, Secondary Literary Specialist

In grad school, one of my professors assigned an article for us to read by Kathleen Blake Yancey, the former president of NCTE, entitled “Writing in the 21st Century.” (To read this article, go to  I distinctly remember falling in love with this article for several reasons: her writing style is AMAZING, she succinctly summarizes a history of composition in a mere few paragraphs, she reminds readers of the social nature of writing, she asserts that technology has allowed everyone to become writers and that these writers who embrace technology “want to compose and do” for each other, a real and defined audience.

I would like to focus specifically on Yancey’s views on the role of audience and the social nature of writing that has become more prominent because of technology.  Everywhere we look, we see examples of students writing—Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, text messages.  Deborah Brandt, professor emerita of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, calls this self-sponsored writing, “a writing that belongs to the writer, not to an institution” (Yancey 4).   In these platforms, our students mix text and media effortlessly and WILLINGLY in order “to share, to encourage dialogue, to participate” (Yancey 5).  Writers, and just as importantly, AUDIENCES are everywhere.  Our students dive into this digital environment yet they seem reluctant to write for us in the classroom.  We stick to the traditional model of literacy with pen and paper first, then the computer, and, finally, if at all, the networked computer.  We limit the power of the computer by only using it as a word processor.  We limit our students’ creativity and interest when we ignore how they “naturally” communicate through the writing.

Yancey ends her article with the idea that writing throughout history has mostly been for a public audience. “If this is so, we need to find a place for it both in our models of writing and in our teaching of writing.” (7). And this is exactly why our students write outside of school—because of an audience.  Shouldn’t we encourage this?


Yancey, Kathleen Blake, Writing in the 21st Century. NCTE Web,  31 July 2012.

T-STEM Project-Based Learning: Craft a Driving Question

Monday, February 13th, 2012

T-STEM Project-Based Learning:

The Texas High School Project (2010) defines Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Project-Based Learning (T-STEM PBL) as an inquiry-based instructional approach, in a real-world context, where students generate pathways and products that meet defined, standards-based outcomes.  This broad definition outlines the basic tenets of project-based learning that facilitate the integration of STEM and non-STEM disciplines.  Specifically, T-STEM PBL places an emphasis on providing a rigorous learning experience for students by meshing PBL principles with STEM concepts thereby increasing both student engagement and connectedness to real-world STEM issues.

The National Science Foundation (2007) states, “In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy.  To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, all students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.”  Through the integration of PBL and STEM, students engage in complex problem-solving that allows for multiple solutions while fostering research and collaboration.  Additionally, these authentic tasks allow students to develop skills and technical vocabulary utilized in specific STEM career fields.  The Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center provides PBL support to teachers as they learn to write driving questions that spark interest and propel students through a project.

Craft a Driving Question:

When a teacher begins planning a PBL, knowing the reasons why driving questions are used will assist in developing the right question for a project.  When students ask “Why are we doing this?” or “When will I ever need this?” the rationale for using driving questions becomes apparent:

  • To promote student interest:  The purpose of a driving question is to give students a reason to solve a problem or issue facing them.  Good driving questions will promote student interest and generate excitement for the upcoming tasks.
  • To direct students toward project goals:  Students often do projects without seeing the purpose behind it.  With a driving question students will have clear direction towards the project goals.
  • To address authentic concerns:  Driving questions should address authentic concerns.  How is the material used in the real world?  Select a question that would make the material relevant to the student.

An intriguing driving question is at the heart of an effective project, setting the tone for the entire PBL and focusing on the overarching concept of the PBL.  To consider how the guiding question relates to the real world, take the “big idea” for the project (what students will accomplish) and convert it into a realistic problem-based scenario that an employee might experience in the workplace.  Next, craft this into a problem or question that cannot be easily solved or answered.  It should be open-ended and composed of many parts that students can explore on a variety of levels.  Driving questions should elicit higher-level thinking, and students should be expected to use their critical thinking skills in order to derive an answer to the question.

Driving questions must also be linked to learning objectives so that students are gaining both knowledge and skills as they work towards the project’s answer.  Furthermore, the driving question must emphasize a high level of challenge so that students are not simply walking through review activities, but are fully engaged throughout the process.  Finally, when developing a driving question and PBL lessons, it is important to keep in mind the scope and sequence of both district curricula and the TEKS.

Four types of driving questions
There are four types of driving questions:

1.       Abstract, conceptual:  An abstract driving question is one that is answered by conceptual analysis. These questions are answered through logical argument.  There is no single, correct answer, and it is not easy to answer these questions with a one-word answer.  Students will need to justify their response to these abstract, conceptual questions through a variety of activities.  Examples:

  • What makes a book a classic?
  • When do we grow up?
  • Should art be censored?

2.       Concrete:  A concrete driving question is one that is answered mainly by the analysis of empirical evidence.  Students will need to do research to prove their answer.  In this case, there is a right answer, but there are several ways to approach the answer.  Examples:

  • Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?
  •  Is the water in our town safe to drink?
  • What effect does population growth have on our community?

3.       Problem-Solving:  A problem-solving driving question is answered by offering a reasonable solution.  For a problem-solving question, students have to work together to generate a solution to the problem.  Examples:

  • How can the government use monetary and fiscal policy to address an economic crisis?
  •  How can we create an effective networking system for a corporation?

4.       Design Challenge:  A design challenge driving question is answered by creating and executing a design that effectively meets requirements.  Here, the students are to use the engineering design process to answer the question.  Examples:

  • How can we design a local theatre that meets size limits and seats the most people?
  • How can we design a museum exhibit about World War II so that it appeals to diverse groups in our city?

The development of a driving question is central to the inquiry process and it must be established before deciding on project activities.  Furthermore, the natural outcome of effective project-based learning is a project completely driven by the question or problem statement and facilitated by the teacher.  To obtain more information on PBL and driving questions, view the following videos and contact us via our Transformation 2013 website (


Watershed Project: Craft the Driving Question

The Gender Project: Craft the Driving Question




Larmer, J., Ross, D., & Mergendoller, J. (2009).  PBLStarter Kit: To-the-point Advice, Tools and Tips for 
Your FirstProject in Middle or High School.  Novato,CA:  Buck Institute for Education.

National Science Foundation (2007) “National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System.” Retrieved February 1, 2012,

Texas High School Project (2010).  “Texas Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Academy

Design Blueprint, Rubric, and Glossary.”  Retrieved February 1, 2012,

The Driverless Car: Flexibility and Imagination

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Imagine having the technology to have cars that drive without a human driver.  Think about it for a minute.  What will that mean for our daily lives?  How would that change your morning commute?  What other inventions may occur as a result of not needing to drive? Recently National Public Radio did a short story on the Driverless Car Technology and where it is now.  (  The driverless car technology is on the horizon.  What other inventions are coming that will change the way we think and how do we help prepare our students for this future that sounds like science fiction?

It is often said we are preparing our students for jobs that don’t exist right now and to use tools that we can’t even begin to imagine.  Our challenge is to use the tools we have now to prepare our students for this future.  In pondering this question and reading many articles, two main themes became very clear: flexibility and imagination.

We want the best schools but we seem to be stuck in the way things have always been done.  Parents and teachers expect school to look like the school they attended.  To prepare our students for their future, and not ours’, we need to realize that there will be major paradigm shifts in what is meant by “going to school.”  One small example of flexible thinking is how some schools are using online tools and websites like the Khan Academy site to “flip” their instruction.  Students don’t have traditional homework but they go home and watch instruction, and return the next day ready to practice with a content specialist.  Think about the implications of this model and how it dramatically changes the look of traditional homework.  A student may not need to complete a set of practice problems but watch a video or play a game and be ready to talk about and work on problems related to these experiences!  Not only do we need to be flexible about what it means to go to school, we must be flexible in our thinking about instructional technology.  We need to embrace the fact that whatever we have is going to need to be upgraded or it will become outdated quickly. This means that we will have to learn new technologies at a fast rate alongside our students.  As educators we must also remain flexible in our thinking and learning; we can no longer get our degrees and be ready for the rest of our career.  We must be the life-long learners that we are preparing our students to be. We must continue to learn and explore in order to create the best learning for our students. We must be willing to change and keep changing.

Let’s go back to our driverless car; you’ve probably seen one.   It might have been in a cartoon or movie, something viewed as wildly imaginative.  A lot of our own inventions were once just a part of someone’s imagination, something to make life easier, more productive or maybe just more fun.  To help prepare our students we need to provide opportunities for them to use their imaginations and to be creative.  Our original education system was designed to create workers, ones who could follow directions and do repetitive tasks correctly.  As our world is transformed by new knowledge, new technologies, and new connections, we can see that traditional tasks and roles being replaced or becoming useless.  We have to begin to imagine that some of what we teach now is not going to be useful at all; some of our content will become archaic.  Some of our techniques and strategies will become cumbersome as technology and other inventions will make things easier.

Imagine a classroom that is not a room.  Imagine a school day that is not a day, defined by bells and defined schedules.  Imagine a grade level that is not defined by an age.  Imagine teachers learning alongside their students, collaboratively and cooperatively.   Just imagine!

More fuel for your imagination may be found in these links to articles which were read in preparation for creating this article.  Some of them contain slightly controversial subject matter. We are sharing them only as different viewpoints, not as endorsements. This site offers 32 short chapters with paradigm shifting ideas and thoughts.  Be sure to watch the animation, it is fun! This link ties together goals of our original education systems and looks ahead to what will be needed.  This site has a “book” feel to it. This article talks about personalizing learning with technology tools  and gives some examples of how some schools are already changing.





Using Electronic Portfolios to Assess Student Growth and Mastery

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Have you ever given serious consideration to the idea of having your students collect and assemble learning artifacts into a well-organized portfolio?  Perhaps the idea is intriguing because your best intuition tells you that you can better assess real learning when growth is monitored over time instead of in one short event, such as a test.  According to research, a portfolio is “A purposeful collection of student work that illustrates efforts, progress and achievement in one or more areas.” (Paulson, Paulson, & Meyer, 1991). Portfolios are practical ways to showcase learning and demonstrate mastery of concepts.  The portfolio development process (leading to showcase) is a practical way to accurately depict growth in pursuit of that mastery.  The common goal of maintaining a portfolio is to continuously develop a purposeful collection of work and create a vehicle for constructive, developmental learning.

Technology tools have matured tremendously since the early days of discussing electronic portfolios.  Schools and teachers have tried, often with limited success, to use file servers, html web pages and more to create a showcase. But the barrier-to-entry and learning curve often made any attempt not worthwhile.  New tools, including those provided to all Texas educators through Project Share, have removed almost all of the hurdles and road blocks to successful and enjoyable e-portfolio development.

Ponder the major learning benefits for your students….

  • E-portfolios are effective in helping students become critical thinkers and aiding in the development of their writing and multimedia communication skills
  • E-portfolios help students become more technology literate
  • E-portfolios develop critical thinking skills and challenges learners to make connections among peers, professionals and learning experiences and to real-world applications

Categorize student e-portfolios into two categories: Formative/Learning portfolios and Summative/Showcase portfolios.  Formative/Learning portfolios:

  • Are intended to personalize learning experiences and provide a vehicle for collaboration, communication, and review by peers and professionals
  • Provide teachers with evidence of learning over time
  • Allow learning patterns to emerge which allow for the creation of personalized learning plans
  • Form the foundation for artifacts that will eventually end up on display in the Summative/Showcase portfolio.

Summative/Showcase portfolios:

  • Are organized after the work is completed over time, cleaned up and professional – removes elements not of interest to a non-participating reviewer
  • Provide opportunity to share authentic examples of work that represents more than grades
  • Work as a tool to focus interests and strengths on career goals and markets skills and characteristics specific to the target market and audience

As you consider how to begin an e-portfolio initiative, remember these important cues:

  • Students should organize and classify work into universally important abilities, such as communication, decision making, global perspective and aesthetic engagement.  Don’t be tempted to organize by unit title or other narrow topics.  You will need to think about your assignments and which major concepts they address.
  • Utilize rubrics to guide the learning along a path of increasing performance and quality.
  • Work with students to define both academic and personal goals for a long range showcase.  Coach them in understanding that the audience for their portfolio will evolve over the years.
  • Younger students will need much more structure and direct instruction than high school aged students.  Senior portfolios should be extremely self-directed.
  • Provide encouragement and opportunity for students to include artifacts from activities in enrichment areas and outside of school that fit their goals.

Finally, and most important of all, consider the sharing and reflecting components of e-portfolios as absolutely critical to the process.  This is likely the place of most discomfort and hesitation.  It is too often and easily skipped.  However, student work should be reviewed and constructively commented on by (as appropriate) teachers, peers, community, professionals, parents, and more.  Furthermore, the most essential step of all is the student self-reflection on selected artifacts.  For each included work, students need to write a personal narrative concerning the what, why, and how of the work as well as thoughts, comments and feelings about the level of learning, needs for improvement, pride in achievement and remaining questions.

There is still a list of critical questions for district IT, classroom practitioners and administrators that need attention for success.  Additionally, selecting the appropriate electronic platform can make or break a successful e-portfolio initiative.  Teachers are encouraged to learn the process of e-portfolio development by learning to create and maintain a simple professional e-portfolio for reflective practice and as a model for learners.  To assist with these needs, Region XIII offers targeted support services to ensure you have the technical and pedagogical knowledge that will empower you to succeed with e-Portfolios.  To discuss what we can do for you, send an e-mail to

Hebert, E. The Power of Portfolios: What
Children Can Teach Us About Learning and
Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey Bass,
Rolheiser, C., Bower, B., & Stevahn, L. The
Portfolio Organizer: Succeeding with Portfolios
in Your Classroom. Alexandria VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development, 2000


Technology Tools Aligned to Type 2 Accommodations for Spelling

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Are you looking for technology tools aligned to Type 2 Accommodations for spelling? This matrix lists multiple options and provides live links for further information about each tool. You may access further information at


Download the Technology Tools Aligned to Type 2 Accommodations in Spelling PDF document below.

Also, don’t miss the  Lunch and Learn FREE Technolgy Webinar

Topic:  Type 2 Technology Tools for Spelling

Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Time:  12 noon to 1pm

Reserve your Webinar seat now at: