Encourage students to share their “Why.”


Over the course of the past few years , I’ve written and have actively advocated for the authentic integration of cross curricular portfolio design; not solely curating learning artefacts but building and sustaining a holistic digital presence including digital portfolios that showcase student reflective voice, artefacts of learning and highlighting a sense of who they are as an individual (hobbies, interests, etc.). Along with a portfolio , the leveraging of social media applications such as Twitter as an epicentre for connectivity, outreach and the sharing of an individual portfolio (and brand) is paramount. Recognizing social media as a new resume provides learners with a self-directed experiential discourse with the potential to support resiliency in asking for feedback , next steps and then applying such notes where, applicable .

In my work with educators in supporting the integration of cross curricular multimodal design and portfolio creation, I consistently assert that modelling is so urgent; building and sustaining a professional web presence that models the viability of connectivity with purpose and meaning . When having this dialogue with teachers, a common question arises:   “What is the point of this for students.”

My response goes something like this:

Imagine the excitement you had as young learner when you brought home work from school and it was put on the fridge for display – your work being showcased.  In the early years we readily celebrate the skills that go along with the work and the overall achievement (the artifact). We celebrate student learning, but later on in school life, the focus turns to marks, content, quizzes, tests and less about the artifact that is an example of students showing what they know.  Where is the student in this? The web is the new fridge and can open many opportunities for students to connect and potentially create experiential opportunities (intentionally or by accident). Sharing online is not about celebrity but rather possible connectivity; showcasing, reaching out to like-minded people, asking for feedback etc.


Now, coming from me, this means little. With a film and digital media background I have a deep connection to the notion of “exhibition” and the need to be your own PR firm. So, take it from two students who have shown a commitment to leveraging social media within a professional discourse; activating their entrepreneurial spirit to not just wait for doors to open but to create their own. Its within the portfolio and reflection that students can find the “why” to their learning and how they learn.

The video below highlights two students who have participated in a Gr. 9 STEM Portfolio Camp that I developed and have been moderating for three years.  This camp, intentionally scaffolds the principles of the Ministry of Ontario’s Creating Pathways to Success but also enriches the reflective portfolio experience by nurturing students to harness transferable digital skills to show learning across all subjects, effectively communicate and create a positive online brand.

Specifically, in regards to STEM education the camp that runs all year through face-to-face instruction and blended learning, reminds students that STEM is not just about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math but importantly the need to be effective communicators who can share ideas readily, examine the world through a reflective and cultural lens and recognize the importance of be self-directed learners who can discover and share their “why.”

It’s only two-minutes long – worth the watch.


Final thought:

Also, speaking to transferable skills, students must be able to leverage digital tools to communicate in a way that is accessible, easy to share and extends their ideas. Here’s a great example of how transferable digital skills can live beyond a tech-centered learning environment.

The following video was produced by Gr. 10 student Jimmy Huynh who not only has a enriched digital footprint but has used digital video outside of the tech classroom; in other courses of study and in extra curricular life.

Check out his video below.


This entry was posted in 21st Century Learning, Education, Technology Education and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.