Position: Business Teacher
District/School: Lake Shore High School, Lake Shore Public Schools, Michigan
Number of Students in District/School: 3,400/1,200
On the hunt for a job, students are facing stiff competition. While employers are judging applicants on a number of things, a portfolio of work samples, a resume, and awards is essential. My goal is to transform the traditional paper portfolios into electronic portfolios online.
This lesson is one of the most successful lessons in my career since I began teaching in 2006. The students truly understood the magnitude of this project and used every lesson presented to showcase their aptitudes and abilities. This project was used more than just a one-time grade. Students marketed themselves using documents within their electronic portfolios.
Some students shared that they landed a job with the help of their portfolio; in fact I have seen an increase in student employment due to these portfolios.
Parents have asked their children to help them complete a portfolio, too, and fellow teachers have asked for tutorials on how-to create Weebly websites for their own classrooms. (I have held these sessions during our Professional Learning Community time.)
The learning curve was adjusted as I discussed short-term and long-term goals with the students. We developed a timeline to keep students organized, on-track, and ready for accomplishment.
The portfolio is just a tool. Students feel motivated, even as freshmen, to make real world connections. They compile work samples that they are proud of. Heartfelt discussions and examples of these products helped my students realize the importance of their work and its end results.
How We Use It:
I introduced the website creator Weebly to students and explained the requirements and necessary components of the electronic portfolio. Students took multiple pretests to help discover their values, interests, and personality traits to match them with specific careers. They then researched the career field and submitted a written paper and gave a presentation.
Students were given the opportunity to produce a Microsoft PhotoStory 3 presentation instead of the traditional formats. We scanned awards, certificates, pictures, and career documents to post on their Weebly websites. At the end of the lesson, we created Educational Development Plans for students to reference as they continue through their next three years of high school, and towards graduation.
My long-term goal for the project is to have our educational leaders see the validity of portfolio-based assessments instead of bubble sheets. I believe the authenticity of this project will create a buzz not only for employment purposes, but as a data collection for all others to measure learning. I would love to create a tracking system to find out just how many students landed jobs with the help of their portfolios.