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Students Engaging Their Parents in Their Digital Portfolios

What are you learning and why is it important?

Over the years, Stefani has always shown a keen interest in leveraging technology to deepen the learning of her students. This past year, she looked to use Seesaw (a digital portfolio application) with her students. She was curious about how she could engage her students to own their learning through a digital portfolio tool like Seesaw.

How is it going with your learning?

Stefani began the school year by scaffolding “documentation of learning” routines with her students. This investment empowered her students to take the initiative to document and reflect on their learning using Seesaw at any time throughout a given day. She found that her students could not only demonstrate their development in key competencies, but also really show their thinking (the HOW) behind their learning.

There were many secondary benefits that Stefani observed in having her students own the documentation process using Seesaw. It gave students voice and choice in how they went about demonstrating their learning, it gave Stefani a great avenue to provide her students with timely formative feedback, and it provided her insight into how well students were grasping learning concepts that she taught them.

All that being said, one of the main, perhaps unforeseen benefits that emerged had to do with the relationship between her students and their parents/guardians. Instead of inviting parents to view their child’s learning portfolio through the parent application login, she instead had her students engage their parents throughout the year by logging into their own portfolio. Her students would then look to lead meaningful conversations with their parents/guardians around the various learning artifacts they had collected and reflected upon. This not only empowered her students to guide their parents/guardians through their portfolio throughout the year, but it also ensured that parents/guardians were engaging with their children when viewing their child’s portfolio. Stefani was also appreciative that this approach meant that her students’ parents weren’t being bombarded with notifications on a daily basis and instead would be prompted to connect with their child at key learning points throughout a given term. Often she used a simple email to parents prompting them to ask their child to show them recent learning evidence and reflect on it together.

What are your next steps?

As Stefani prepares for the new school year, she is working collaboratively with some of her colleagues to generate ideas that will empower her students to show what they know and go deeper in their self-reflections. She is also planning on continuing to engage her parents by having her students bring their parents/guardians into their portfolio throughout the year. She found this to be incredibly empowering for her students last year and she hopes it continues to be a valuable way to meaningfully engage parents/guardians in their child’s learning this year as well.

Below you'll find learning artifacts from Stefani's class.

Reading sample done monthly so that the students could see their own progress

(oral reading sample in a video with a written caption reflecting on strengths and stretches)

Map & Tour (scanned in student work accompanied by a read aloud of the island tour)

Math ‘Thinking’ example

(photo of a math solution accompanied by an audio explanation of the student’s thinking)

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