In the spirit of the Standards Based Grading (SBG) I’m using this year I didn’t give my chemistry or physics classes a written final exam this week. Instead I stole a Frank Noschase idea and offered an optional “Reassessment Buffet” featuring paper and pencil quiz problems for all of the goals we had covered this semester. This obviously allowed students an opportunity to master goals they had not yet mastered. It worked pretty well. I had about 60% participation of the students that should have take advantage of the opportunity. For those that did it helped, and they were able to raise their end of the semester single letter grade. This is something I will defiantly do again.
However, the point of this post and main “final” I gave my students this semester was an electronic portfolio that showcased how they met ALL of the goals in class. First off I wanted this project to be electronic so that students couldn’t lose, destroy, deface, etc a paper portfolio when it was completed. The site they created on Google Sites will be there for a while, and they will always know where to find it and can continue to add to it this semester.
I had this idea when I fully dedicated myself to SBG this year. I liked the thought of students showcasing work and having something to show for it rather than just another scored assessment paper. I just didn’t know where to start. However, thanks to Twitter around the end of November I saw some people discussing their portfolio plans. I came across a tweet form Sam Evens where he shared his portfolio template, https://sites.google.com/site/mrevansscienceportfolio/. I liked this setup and with Sam’s permission I used his template and turned it into mine. https://sites.google.com/site/bhschemistryportfolio/ and https://sites.google.com/site/mrwysockiportfolio/
From there each student created their own Google Site using these templates. All of units and goals were already entered so all they needed to do was add in artifacts for each goal and write a little about each one. I also had each student write a reflection on each unit. Here are some links to some of the best work submitted:
Overall I really like this as a final and am planning to do it again next semester. One issue I had is that I gave my students this project to work on the last couple of weeks of the semester and some scrambled to get the work done, which turned into me allowing more class time for project then I would have liked. I did like how this forced the students to do and end of semester review of all the material, which is the point of a final. However, I didn’t like the amount of class time needed get everyone “caught up” with all of the semester work. I think now that each student has the portfolio all set up and ready to go this semester I will be emphasizing working on it throughout the semester instead of just at the end.
Technologically speaking Google Sites is quite easy and intuitive to use. The major hurdle we needed to overcome was getting the pictures students were taking on their device to the computer. One of the most popular ways was to upload their pictures onto the Google Drive app, and then when they were editing in Sites they choose Insert>Drive>Images. This worked well as each image didn’t need to be individually uploaded to Sites. However, when this is done this way Sites links the image to the person’s Drive. In order for the image to actually show up on the website the picture needs to be “viewable to anyone with a link” or “public.” These are not the default settings so that is one additional step that needs to be taken. Otherwise Google Sites was a great option to have students work with.