Why Implementing Student ePortfolios is a BRILLIANT Idea

There is an abundant amount of information available to educators that it is impossible to sit and read it all.  Now with internet accessibility, the online reports and studies offer up data instantly, and it can be overwhelming to look at the amount of information that is now available to us.  It is important to be able to scan reports and look for the data that applies to you. I think many educators don’t take the time to read the literature, or even access their professional learning communities, but maybe occasionally might run a quick google search on the topic at hand.  I know this because I was one of them.  I never thought I would be a teacher, and so my first year in the classroom, I was overwhelmed when it came to looking for teaching strategies and finding inspiration online.  I didn’t utilize the reports, because I didn’t know about them.  I didn’t access my PLCs because I didn’t know what a PLC was! I have learned a great deal during this time, and I now know that pulling up market trends and staying current is vital.  It is my hope that I can outline some usual information to support my idea of teaching and incorporating the digital or “ePortfolio” for our middle school students.

  • As mentioned in my proposal, the ePortfolio is, potentially, one of the most powerful tools we can give our students. “It is a place for one to reflect and make connections.  A digital evidence of learning.”  It is an electronic record of achievement that can be constantly sorted and curated over time. (Batson, 2012).
  • It is very concerning for me when I read that “43 percent of students feel unprepared to use technology as they look ahead to higher education or their work life (NME Foundation, 2011).  This is very alarming.  We live in a digital world, and students need to be comfortable with using technology throughout their school years as these are 21st Century skills that they will need once in the workplace.
  • As Dahlstrom noted in his 2015 ECAR report, “technology is embedded in students’ lives, and students generally have positive inclinations towards technology (ECAR, 2015).  Let’s effectively implement technology in student learning to enhance engagement and to prepare them for the future.
  • In both 2014 & 2015, Horizon reports the shift toward deeper learning approaches for students as one of the major developments toward the acceleration of technology adoption in K-12 education (Horizon, 2014)(Horizon, 2015).
  • The 2015 Horizon report cites project-based learning, inquiry-based learning and challenge-based learning as additional methods that foster more active learning experiences for our students (Horizon, 2015).
  • It is also important to note that educators have started to use portfolios because they “recognize that the process has the power to transform instruction.”  (Danielson & Abrutyn, 1997)  Through the process of creating their own portfolios, “students become highly engaged in their own learning … and assume considerable responsibility for the learning (Danielson & Abrutyn, 1997).
  • How can we use portfolios to assess student understanding? Through their collection of student work, that is their eportfolio, educators are able to assess the documentation of higher order thinking skills and performance skills that are necessary for students (NME Foundation, 2011).
  • Another item to note is that educators may begin to see student performance evaluations based on more than just the standardized tests successes but weighed on the following components (The Classroom Teacher, 2015):

•Student learning objectives


•District pre and post tests

  • An interesting find while reading various reports on ePortfolios in the classroom, was in the 2015 ECAR report when they asked students to share their experiences with a set of resources and tools that are found on college campuses.  Some of these included laptops in class, e-books, online collaboration tools and social media as a learning tool, just to name a few.  The ePortfolio was 1 among 4 tools that may be achieving their potential, according to students (ECAR, 2015).
  • As I mentioned in my initial proposal, it would be great for our eighth graders to be able to use their ePortfolios that they will have been working on for 3 years as a “resume” of sorts when filling out high school applications.  Research shows that “portfolios can be used as an authentic assessment tool in the classroom, or as a method to showcase your professional accomplishments” (TeacherVision.com).  The ePortfolio is wonderful tool for students to reflect on their learning and it is a great way for them to stand out.

Over the years, research is telling us that we need to broaden the ways in which we teach in the classroom and divert from the old, dictating methods that we first used, and encourage deeper thinking learning. It was interesting to see how much Horizon focused on the teacher role in their 2014 report. They noted how the teacher has many responsibilities, including the ability to be adept at a variety of technology-based approaches for content delivery, learner support, and assessment (Horizon, 2014).  We have the opportunity to equip students with the necessary tools and skills they will need for the future, but it starts with us.  If ALL teachers do not start acknowledging that technology is here to stay and do not start taking advantage of it in the classroom by using it to effectively teach, we will continue to have the alarming statistics regarding student preparedness that the Nellie Mae Education Foundation reported.



Batson, T (September, 2012) 12 Important Trends in the ePortfolio Industry for Education and for Learning. Retrieved from https://campustechnology.com/articles/2012/09/19/12-important-trends-in-the-eportfolio-industry.aspx

Dahlstrom, E. (August, 2015) The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/~/media/files/library/2015/8/ers1510ss.pdf?la=en

Danielson, C., & Abrutyn, L. (1997). An introduction to using portfolios in the classroom. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/197171/chapters/The-Benefits-of-Portfolios.aspx

Meeker, M (May, 2015). Internet Trends 2015 Code Conference. Retrieved from http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

Nellie Mae Education Foundation (July, 2011). Integrating Technology With Student-Centered Learning.  Retrieved from https://www.nmefoundation.org/getmedia/befa9751-d8ad-47e9-949d-bd649f7c0044/Integrating-Technology-with-Student-Centered-Learning

Portfolios for Students & Teachers (K-12) – TeacherVision.com. Retrieved from https://www.teachervision.com/assessment/teaching-methods/20153.html

The Classroom Teacher (2015). Goodbye PDAS, Here Comes TTESS. Retrieved from https://tcta.org/node/14211-goodbye_pdas_here_comes_ttess

The New Media Consortium (December, 2015). The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

The New Media Consortium (2014). The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2014-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf


A thousand times yes.

Sir Ken Robinson is an “internationally recognized authority in creativity and innovation in education and business, also one of the world’s leading speakers. Videos of his famous talks to the prestigious TED Conference are the most viewed in the history of the organization and have been seen by an estimated 300 million people in over 150 countries”.

And aside from that… he’s pretty awesome.  And hilarious.

In just a couple weeks, Houston gets the exciting opportunity of having Sir Ken Robinson speak at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Information can be found at http://houstonaplus.org

What is Disruptive Innovation?

I have been learning so much while on this journey in earning my Master’s.  I read a book by Michael Horn, Heather Staker and Clayton M. Christensen titled Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools for one of my courses and I just couldn’t put it down because it is such an eye opener for me in looking at our educational system.

Upon hearing the term “disruptive innovation” for the first time, I recall having somewhat of a predisposed inclination that whatever it was that we would be learning this course, was not going to be something of a positive outcome.  Growing up, I’ve learned that words that are prefaced with “dis”, generally have a negative connotation associated with them, so I was curious…”What were we going to be disrupting?”  After watching the week’s videos and reading the book Blended, I now have a solid understanding of what disruptive innovation is exactly. Simply put, disruptive innovation occurs when a person, group, organization brings something completely new to the market that “disrupts” an existing market or system already in place (Harvard Business Review, 2008).  For many people, change is not welcome and so the idea of disruptive innovation really maybe something negative to them, but as a whole, disruptive innovation switches things up to make things convenient and more affordable for consumers.

Disruptive innovation can really come about from any one person either as part of a group or organization or even just a consumer.  My personal thought on this is that people need to always stay inspired and curious about the world and things around them, because just the Scott Anthony mentioned, it only takes a spark of inspiration for someone to come up with a disruptive idea.  For us educators that are apart of a big organization, however, I do feel that it is important to have our leaders behind us.  We need to be given the freedom and space to create this ideas… to be allowed to think outside the box, if you will (Harvard Business Review, 2008).

Unlike disruptive innovation, sustaining innovation is more of the notion of improving an already established system or method in place, by listening to the needs of customers.  What are our current customers demanding how can we satisfy those demands?  Improvements are made, but only to aide in sustaining the current model.  Disruptive innovation can be used as a catalyst for change because what is essentially happening is that newer, better and more convenient ways are being created for people to continue to do the things they love- whether it be shopping, gaming, reading or listening to music.  We listen to a lot of music in our household, and with two little ones, it is much easier for me to open up my Spotify app on my phone and play what ever song my kids want to hear the moment. This beats me going to the store and spending hundreds of dollars on CDs when I can pay a small monthly fee and have pretty much any type of music selection available to me at my fingertips.  But before Spotify, we had Pandora. Pandora was the disruptive innovation that occured in the music world.  It’s convenient, simple and FREE!  Granted, listeners will hear an ad every now and then but gone are the days where we have to go out and buy CDs and cassettes of our favorite music, we now have it on our computers and on our mobile phones.  When you have kids in the house, their music tastes change DAILY, so it’s great being able to listening the Frozen soundtrack one minute, and then Kidz Bop the next.

I feel lucky right now, because I’m in a position where disruption innovation can really change our organization.  We are a private PreK-8 school in Houston, and in about a year, we will be breaking ground on a new building.  For over a year now, we have been brainstorming and thinking of ways in which we could create an unbelievable maker-space for our students.  There have been countless “What If” meetings and division meetings where we have brainstormed ideas on a physical element on how we can create the best spaces for our children, and the renderings that the design team presented to us a couple weeks ago were amazing.  One thing we want to be in our area are leaders in education and leaders in technology.  I’m privileged to be a part of an organization that encourages this outside the box thinking.  The challenge for me, personally is seeing what I can do at the Early Childhood level, because as stated in Blended, you see more of a need in disruptive innovation at the high school and sometimes middle school level- rarely at the elementary level.  My eyes are being opened, and I’m fascinated with disruptive innovation being used to improve our schools and education system!



Harvard Business Review. (2008, October 20). How to stop disruptive innovation opportunities [Video   file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGzXWO_anLI

Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2014). Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. John Wiley & Sons.

What You Can Find Here

As part of my Master’s program, I have been instructed to create an ePortfolio.  This ePortfolio is my website, and in it, you can get a little peek at who I am as a person in my About Me Section.  You’ll quickly learn that I am passionate about two things: education and art.  I’ve tried to pour myself into this website in hopes of conveying the type of educator and artist I am.  In the menu, you can find links to my photography business, Noah’s Ark Photography, and view some of my current work in the galleries and blog.  I’ve also added a tab to specifically show projects and things we do in my 8th Grade Photography class.

As an artist and an educator, I feel that it is so important to always stay curious and to surround yourself with inspiration.  It is also very beneficial to join different learning networks where you can connect and interact with other educators around the world.  You can read about some learning networks I recommend by visiting the learning networks tab on the website.   You’ll see that I have a few learning networks that I love, and in those networks, I’ve included both Pinterest and Twitter.  These might be considered more social networks, but both of these websites can serve as wonderful sources of information and inspiration.

If you hop on over to my Projects tab, you can find my own digital reflection of my past, present and future leadership of using ICT (information communication technology) in the classroom.  I’ve also included my own Teaching Manifesto that states my personal opinions and goals. You’ll also find a sample lesson plan targeted specifically for Early Childhood teachers that includes the utilization of digital tool.  There are many digital tools and programs that can be seamlessly used in upper grades, but it is often difficult to find examples of new things that we can do with Early Childhood students in terms of digital technology, outside of iPad games.  The goal was to use an interactive digital tool that ties in to the lesson, so it is my hope that this serves as great inspiration for other Early Childhood teachers looking for something new to try out with their little ones.

I’ve also added a Resources tab and have divided up some of my go to resources by categories.  There are so many programs and apps out there now, that it can be overwhelming.  What I’ve tried do here, is lay out some tools that I have found helpful in the hopes that another educator might find one they like and incorporate it into their own lesson in the classroom.  The goal of this ePortfolio is to serve as a personal reflection tool, but not only for me, but for other educators and artists around the world.  I’d love to connect with other teachers, so feel free to leave a comment and subscribe!