Course 5 E-Portfolio Commenting/STEM Project

What were your goals for your lesson/project 



  • Increasing motivation for students to blog reflectively about their learning in their E-Portfolio by setting up blogging buddies with 6th and 8th graders and involving parents in commenting
  • Opening some blogs up to the public to see if that increases motivation
  • Promoting our school’s first STEM fest to a global audience
  • Using QR codes and google forms to allow students to get instant feedback on their project

ISTE Coach Standards


  • Visionary Leadership
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Digital Age Learning Environments


What tools did you use? Why did you choose this/these tools for this/these task(s)?


  1. Twitter
  2. Vine
  3. Instagram
  4. Weebly
  5. GoAnimate
  6. Google Forms
  7. Google Presentations
  8. Form Mule Add-On
  9. Form Publisher Add-On
  11. Blogger


How did you go about introducing your lesson/project?


I first discussed the blogging buddies and the family commenting initiative in our Middle School Coordination team meeting.  The 6th and 8th grade science and math teachers were willing to try blogging buddies with their students and my principal gave me 20 minutes at the next Parent Coffee to address the parents.

Teachers told their 6th and 8th grade students about the Blogging Buddies program.  I also emailed them information and links to their buddy’s blog.  Teachers also carved out some advisory time for students to work on the Commenting Common Agreements.

This is the presentation and pamphlet I presented to the parents at the coffee.

How did the students react? Include actual samples of student reflection (video, images, etc)


Click here to see some Vine Videos of Students working on their STEM projects.

The responses from messages I sent out to individual students asking if I could share out their Portfolio contained the best reactions.  Most students were very happy to share out their work.  Here are some excerpts from the email conversations.

  • “Thank you for the compliment, and I wouldn’t mind you sharing the project with other people :)” – M. Park
  • Hello, Mrs. Laura.

“I’m glad to see this email and I am definitely okay to share my blogs!

Thank you” – S.Park

  • “Okay, you can share my blog (thanks for saying it look nice !)” – Alice D.
  • “Dear Ms. Laura,

Thank you! Of course you can share my blog and I am exited at the feedback.

Sincerely, Luis”

Outcome? Did you meet your goals?


My initiatives to increase motivation for students to blog reflectively failed.  Not many of the students commented on the blogs of their buddies.  Even though kids were paired up with someone who was doing the same STEM project they were; students were not excited to read another student’s blog posts.  This might be because they we forced to write the blogs in the first place or that they were not given time to comment in class.  Teachers and students seemed really stressed and pressed for time as the STEM fest approached.  The last thing they probably were thinking about was to comment on someone else’s blog.

The STEM Festival on the other hand was a huge success and we got the word out to the world using Twitter and Vine.  I helped the the whole IT department join Vine and Twitter.  I arranged my team around the different STEM stations and instead of recording it live, we took Vine videos and tweeted them out using the #STEM hashtag and mentioning @AISChennai.   We then retweeted all these Tweets so they would appear on the AISC Twitter Feed.

The Weebly website I set up got some pretty good traffic the day before the STEM fest.  We had a great show of parents to the event and many of them already had their QR code reader downloaded to their Smartphone.  I am hoping that this was a result of the website.  Here are the stats:

The Family Commenting Initiative is still going on, but looking at the student E-Portfolio blogs, I am not seeing any parent commenting.  About 20 parents attended the Parent Coffee where I introduced in initiative and about half of them were Korean parents that had limited English.  I will keep sending email reminders using Form Mule but I am not sure that this initiative will be successful.

Evidence of learning

  3. This is the blogging buddies spreadsheet, click on the blog URLs to get to the student E-Portfolios

What would you do differently next time? What did you learn?

  1. Start blog commenting initiatives at the beginning of the year
  2. Get the teachers invested early by giving PD and discussing the vision
  3. Ask the kids what would motivate them to blog more
  4. More communication and training about the e-Portfolios for teachers
  5. Strike a balance between students choice and teacher guidance

How do/did you plan to share this with your colleagues?


I put out a Weekly Middle School Tech bulletin and I will share my Course 5 Final Project video in that.  Hopefully, it will create some awareness around the E-Portfolio program and commenting.  It’s also live on Youtube and embedded here in my blog.

What was your greatest learning in this course?


I learned that it’s really hard to motivate students to reflect about their learning.  We have done E-Portfolio blogs for two years now and we still have so much work to do.  The program used to be an artifact portfolio that students and teachers would rush to finish just before three way conferences.  We felt that didn’t really match with our mission and where we were going so we changed the format from Google sites to Blogger and changed the focus to reflection instead of projects or artifacts.  Teachers and students are still just understanding how these blogs work, how to access them and how to assess them.  The expectation is that teachers give students 30 minutes every 8 day rotation to blog; however, this rarely happens.  The teachers used to decide what was going in the E-Portfolio and every student used to have the same artifacts.  Blog posts are now more varied but teachers are not giving enough guidance to students.  Teachers are also rarely reading and commenting on what students write, so they aren’t very motivated to write quality posts (especially since they are not graded on this activity)

This blog commenting initiative mixed in with the STEM fest was my attempt to create more awareness and motivation around this great reflective learning activity we already have in place for every middle schooler.  What I learned was that it is very difficult to change behavior and affect motivation especially for an activity that teachers and students don’t see as something essential and beneficial for their learning (they look at it as something extra right now, something they barely have time for.)

 Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition?


When I Tweeted out the selected E-Portfolio blogs, this was redefinition.  This I found was really difficult because not all students are ready for a global audience, especially when they are blogging about their learning challenges and experiences.

The couple students who did get comments from an outside audience were extremely happy.  I think they were really proud of their efforts.

  • the presenter, not your slides)
  • Avoid reading from slides


Credits for COETAIL Course 5 movie clips that were used. – Goal Movie – Social Meida Flutter Family picture – global animation – hellecopter parents bees -quadblogging


digital citizenship samr model


Check our Our E-Portfolio Blogs

This year I had big dreams about vamping up our reflective E-Portfolio blog program.  E-Portfolios are something that we have been doing at AISC for a long time.  Two years ago though,  things really improved by moving our kids from a Google site/ artifact based E-Portfolio to a reflective/ Blogger E-Portfolio.  This switch aligned the program with our vision and mission and the E-Portfolios have now become an wonderful way to keep track of student growth during their time here at AISC.

Originally teachers would pick what projects appeared on the blogs and typically the same projects were showcased in each child’s E-Portfolio Google site.  Now with blogs, students are encourage to reflect about their learning instead of reflecting on a project or artifact.  This learning might be something they are proud about, something that challenged them or maybe a reflection of how their learning changed.  Students and teachers still have a long way to go for the vision of this program to become a reality. Many students often write about the same projects because their teacher tells them to do so or they write exactly what happened in class (their posts are not always reflective).

In an attempt to get students more excited about this great reflective learning exercise, I decided to do a couple of experiments with motivation.  My first idea was to pair up 6th and 8th graders to do blogging buddies during their STEM projects.  I paired up students who were doing similar projects in the hopes that they could learn from each other by commenting.  This failed terribly.  Students were not held accountable by their teachers for commenting because it was seen as something extra.  They were given no time to comment in class and weren’t intrinsically motivated to write comments on each others blogs.  Students were blogging because they had to.

My second attempt was to get parents and family members involved in the commenting.  I held a session as the last middle school Parent Coffee.  I created this nice informational brochure.  I thought it would be such a great way for families to become involved in their child’s learning.  I hoped family members from far away would comment on the blogs (this was the “redefinition” part of my plan).  The family commenting initiative, however, failed miserably too.  I sent the parents emails to remind them to comment and checked the student blogs frequently to see if there was any commenting by parents.  Parents were not leaving any comments.  Maybe they were too busy.  My hopes of motivating the kids to become reflective learners through blogging were dashed.

So, today, as I was browsing around the student E-porfolio’s wallowing in my failure, I decided to try one more thing.  When I came across a blog that looked pretty good, I emailed the student asking if I could share it out to other educators and students.  I received a bunch of enthusiastic replies from students saying “Sure!”  and “Thanks for the compliments” and “Thanks for looking at my blog.”  I took Jeff’s “redefinition”  advice and I posted these E-Portfolio blog links to twitter with the hashtags #comments4kids #edchat #eportfolio #COETAIL and #edtech in hopes that they would get a little traffic and maybe a comment.  Here are the links to the E-Portfolio blogs I shared out.  If you are reading this, PLEASE, click on one and leave a thought provoking comment, or some words or encouragement.

Let’s see if this last try can make a little bit of difference these student’s motivation levels around reflective blogging.


Using Vine in the Classroom

So today I had this really short conversation with one of my teachers, Ross, about his COETAIL project.  I hope this post encourages him to do this for his project because it’s a great idea.  Ross is an EAL teacher.  Earlier in the year, he put out a Vine video on FB of his kids doing something funny.  I remember commenting that he should use Vine in the classroom.  Today he mentioned that he was thinking about using Vine to make pronunciation videos for his EAL students and for this to be his COETAIL project.  I say go for it Ross!  What a great idea.  I felt it was such a good idea that I had to tell the world.

Vine videos loop and are perfect for students to hear and see the word being said over and over again. Please forgive my extreme close-up.


Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 2.34.59 PM

Vine is an app that is available on most mobile devices.  Logistically I think Ross will have to make all the videos using his device because not all students have smartphones or iPads.  Also, it’s one of these social media sites that requires students to be at least 13 to have an account.  I guess the students could always use Ross’s account and device if they were to make their own.    Despite those limitations, you can embed the videos or email them which is quite handy.  

A 5 course E-Portfolio Meal

My course 5 project is going to be like a 5 course meal.  There are several components and I’m excited for all of them to come together.  I am hoping to get some great action research done while increasing intrinsic motivation for students to reflect in their blog-based E-Portfolio.

Course One : Blogging Buddies

For this project I will be working closely with the 6th grade and 8th grade teachers and students that are participating in our STEM festival.  Students will be recording their progress and reflecting on their learning in their E-Portfolio.  I thought it would be neat for students to have a blogging buddy that was doing the same STEM project (ie. mousetrap cars, or towers).  I recruited some willing 6th and 8th grade teachers and we have just paired up the students.  Every sixth grader now has an eighth grader blogging buddy.  These blogging buddies will comment on each other’s e-Portfolio posts.  I plan to use a couple of Google spreadsheet add ons like FormMule to get emails out to all the students about this with the links to their buddy’s E-Portfolio.

Course Two:  Student-created Common Agreements around Commenting

Before students start commenting, I am going to have students draft up their own “common agreements” around blog commenting.  All students will have to agree and sign these common agreements before any commenting starts, consequences for leaving inappropriate comments will also be discussed.  This is really important because I do not want any problems with digital citizenship to arise.

Course Three:  The Family Commenting Initiative

In addition to Blogging Buddies, I thought it would be great to involve family members in the student’s learning by allowing them to comment on the E-Portfolio.  On Tuesday, I just met with several parents at a Middle School Coffee to introduce this plan.  I gathered parent’s information through a Google form and used Form Mule to do a mail merge to give them access to their child’s E-Portfolio.  I am hoping that family members that live far away also get involved and this project too.  Maybe it will bring families that live very far apart closer together.

Course Four:  Student Intrinsic Motivation Pre and Post Survey

To measure any change in motivation, I am going to have students complete a pre and post survey about their motivation levels around blogging.  When I know people are reading my blog, I tend to be more motivated to write quality posts.  I am hoping that this is the case with the students.

Course Five:  STEM FEST

The grand finale will be our first annual STEM FEST.  It is my job to advertise and promote this on social media.  I also want to have a live feed of events that will appear on our STEM FEST Weebly website and our school website.  All student projects will have QR codes posted that go to the student’s E-Portfolio where all project progress and reflection can be viewed.  Another QR code will take parents, onlookers and virtual visitors to a project feedback form allowing students to get immediate feedback.  The live feed of the STEM FEST and involving online viewers to immediately interact with the students add the Redefinition layer (SAMR model) or should I say Sambar model since we are in India, hehehe.



Viewing Flipboard Magazines in a Browser

Yesterday I searched the Internet for a way to view Flipboard Magazines on the Web.  On the site it makes it pretty clear that Flipboard is made for mobile devices like tablets, and smartphones but what if you would like to view Flipboard Magazines.  The thing is that most of the middle school students at AISC have laptops.

After writing the post below, I looked into the Flipboard site more carefully and you are able to view Magazines in the browser by the magazine URL.  You can even edit and add to your magazines with the flipboard editor .  Or share your magazines by making a Magazine Widget.  But this info is not advertised widely on the site.

So, I am definitely taking another look at Flipboard and how my teachers can create their own content for their courses.  Is it me, or is it unclear that Flipboard is available through a browser.  I feel a bit stupid missing this fact and recording a movie about running the app using bluestacks.

Anyways, here is my Creative Integration Widget.
View my Flipboard Magazine.
To make this you need to read the fine print to get the magazine URL.  In my opinion, accessing Flipboard Magazines should be a bit more intuitive. The fine print below.

*Open a magazine on the web and cut and paste its URL into the field above. To get to any magazine on the web, simply tap the share button on the cover and email the magazine to yourself. In the email will be a link to open the magazine on the web. The Flipboard Magazine Widget may not work on blog platforms that block JavaScript. – Flipboard Website


My Original Post – Proof that I am always learning something New

Flipboard is Awesome, but how do you get it to work on a laptop – Before I looked into viewing magazines on the web

I just finished watching Jeff’s video about Flipbook and I love the app.  I’ve been using it on my phone and iPad since course one and I am really interested in having teachers use it to create content for their students.  I also thought it would be a great way for my teachers to assess and interact with their student’s blog based portfolios.  But alas, Flipboard is not made for laptops and most of our teachers and students purchased a laptop as their BYOT device.  I started thinking, Is there a way for Flipboard to be on a laptop?  Of course, with technology there is always a way.

I started searching and I found this program called Bluestacks that is an App Player.  I’m downloading it right now and I am hoping that it doesn’t download any unwanted malware with it.  I think it’ll work.


And it did work.  It took a little while to download, but once bluestacks loaded I was able to download Flipboard from Google Play through Bluestacks.  I logged in with my Facebook account and was able to have access to all my online magazines.  I must be honest the resolution was terrible and not nice and crisp like in the app on my phone or iPad.

Now the question is, how many of my teachers and their students will actually access Flipboard in this way?  Since the download process was a bit slow and the resolution is not all that, I’m not sure I would recommend this work around.  Is there any other way to get Flipboard on a PC or Mac?  I think there is definitely some room in the market for a program like Flipboard that works on all devices, not just tablets and smartphones.  I think Flipboard should add this functionality before someone else does.  If you have a better work around than this, please post a comment.  I would love to hear some better suggestions.

In looking for a Flipboard App for Chrome, I found this nifty Flipboard extention +Flip It. Download it to your browser and add to your Flipboard account while browsing.