In early September, I was fortunate to spend two days with Dr. Helen Barrett, the guru of ePortfolios. My district was able to bring her to Columbia to teach a group of teachers and district staff about ePortfolio creation. The timing was perfect – all the stars were aligned with our adoption of Google Apps for Education and our 1:1 computing initiative. Google Docs and Sites makes it possible for students to collect artifacts and share them through a showcase ePortfolio. As we move to 1:1 computing in our classrooms, students will  have easy access to the technology tools that they need to store and collect documents as well as reflect on the importance of their work.

One big idea that I came away with after the workshop is that there are levels of ePortfolio development. I went into the workshop thinking of ePortfolios as a showcase of a student’s best work. I learned that the most important level of portfolio development is actually Level II, the portfolio as workspace with a focus on process and documentation of learning. Reflective journals are an important part of Level II. Students can use Blogger or other blogging and social networking sites to continuously reflect on their work.

As educators, we know the importance of reflection. I just received notice of my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards renewal which involved many hours of reflecting on my professional growth. The NBPTS renewal portfolio, while a showcase of my work and achievement over the past eight years, was most importantly a profile of my continuous learning as an educator.

One of my favorite college professors, Dr. Dan Barron, always used the phrase, “Grow or Die” to stress the importance of continuous reflection. A few days ago, I gave myself a few hours without Internet access, e-mail or phone calls to reflect on my work and think about improvements that might be needed. Over the next week, take time out of your busy schedule and reflect on where you’ve been and how you need to improve as you move forward. I hope you will feel renewed and ready to face the next challenge.

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