If you’ve ever worked in a preschool or been a preschool parent, you’ll know that portfolios are a big part of sharing the learning of preschool students. Portfolios a wonderful way to document a preschool year, but it’s time consuming for the teachers and the parents and families only get to check in with the learning once a term or once a year.
At Chapman Preschool, Elizabeth had been to a Google Apps workshop and saw the potential of Google Apps to make portfolios a little easier, so she enlisted the help of her teaching partner Paola and executive teacher Rozlyn to see if they could come up with an alternative.
Digital PortfoliosEach portfolio includes a ‘cover page’, which looks a little like a regular portfolio, with a photo of the student. This page functions as a Hyperdoc, using links to direct parents and families to portfolio content. This includes:
- Information about the Early Years Learning Framework
- Information about the importance of play-based learning
- Explanations of all the activities that take place at preschool and how they enhance learning
- A link to photos and work samples.
|The cover page looks just like a 'paper' portfolio cover|
Ongoing sharingRather than just having one portfolio per year, Elizabeth and Paola are able to share what’s going on much more regularly. They can post photos every day, and include regular updates about the activities that go on in the school. For busy and interested parents, this means they have a much better idea of what’s happening and they are able to have richer conversations with their kids because of it.
Different types of contentWhile a paper portfolio often includes lovely artworks and carefully arranged photos and documents, the limit is the fact that they are paper based. With a digital portfolio, teachers can include video and sound as well, adding another level of interest for the parents and students, not to mention a multimedia reminder for the parent and the child of the fun activity they did in preschool.
Including others in the preschool journeyProviding access to an online portfolio means that other people in a child’s life can share the preschool experience. Split families, grandparents interstate or friends overseas can view photos and work samples, giving them more opportunities for conversation and taking part in a child’s life.
How does it all work?The portfolio structure is quite simple. Each student has a Drive folder that contains all their photos, work samples and activity reports. The cover page links to these directly, and the parents are given the link to the cover page Doc. They use this to navigate to all the content.
With 88 students between them, setting up digital portfolios was obviously a time-consuming task. They had to come up with a template for the portfolio, deciding on the types of content to include before creating portfolios for individual students.
They had to ensure that the parent community was on board, as taking information about preschool kids online is a big step. They made sure they clearly articulated what would go into the portfolio, ensuring that parents were happy for photos of their children to be in the portfolios of others.
Then of course there’s the content. Uploading photos from an iPad to Google Drive is a very simple process (much quicker than importing them to a computer and printing them!), but it’s a change in routine that takes some getting used to. They also had to create templates for sharing activities with parents. Luckily though, these are easy to duplicate and use again and again.
The feedback from preschool parents has been very positive. They love being able to see what’s going on and are having much more in-depth conversations with their children.
The kids are responding well too. They’re excited about knowing their parents are going to see what’s going on, and have started asking their teachers ‘can mummy see that now?’ and ‘will that go in my folder?’.
So far, the portfolio trial has been very successful. We’re looking forward to hearing more about it after a whole year of use.