This year (2012) I have undertaken a series of further inquiries around using MyPortfolio in addition to other web 2 tools for the purposes of generating collaboration between the students outside the classroom.

Literary Circles

Student feedback on the digital use of rubrics for peer review process

After the Term Three exams I used digital rubrics (Fancy name for a rubric on a spreadsheet ) to give my student's feedback on their exam essays and also to help them have a specific tool to give each other feedback and feed forward in the light of the importance of feed back and feed forward.


Hattie, J. & Helen, ITimperley. (2007) "The Power of Feedback" Review of Educational Research, March 2007, vol.77, No.1. pp 81-112

Collaborative learning

This year (2012) I have undertaken a series of further inquiries around using MyPortfolio in addition to other web 2 tools for the purposes of generating collaboration between the students outside the classroom.

Submitted the following for the Mahara Newsletter.

This year in addition to using MyPortfolio for collaborative learning with year 13s I have used MyPortfolio with my Year 10A students studying narrative poetry in Literary Circles. Each member of the group had a role to play in the group discussions that took place in class and what was really fascinating was to see how easily these roles translated into a viable and worthwhile activity connected to MyPortfolio.

The discussion leader constructed discussion points for the lesson. The responsible recorder wrote down key points from the discussion. The vocabulary enricher located new and interesting vocabulary to contribute. The literary analyser pinpointed key literary elements for discussion. A further responsibility for each student was to upload the pertinent material associated with the roles each day to a group page for the Literary Circle on MyPortfolio. This meant that the work done by the group had a ‘home’ in the cloud which the members could refer back to for their final presentations at the end of the unit. The student survey showed a high level of engagement with the unit and with the use of MyPortfolio.


The Power of Feedback

"Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this impact acn be either powitive or negative". (Hattie & Timperley, 2007).

Summary of Hattie's points:

Effective forms of feedback provided cues or reinforcement to learners and /or relate to goals.

Effective feedback answers three questions which work in tandem:

  1. "Where am I going?" (The goals or success criteria working towards)
  2. "How am I going?" (Feedback)
  3. "Where to next?" (Feed forward)

The focus of feedback is important and directly influences its effectiveness:

  1. [FT] The task level - e.g. "your essay needs to include more detail about the conflict faced by the character"
  2. [FP] The process level - e.g. "this page may make more sense if you use the strategies we discussed earlier"[FS
  3. [FR] The self-regulation level - e.g. "you already know the features of an introdution. Check to see if you have incorporated them here."
  4. [FS] The self-level e.g. "That's an intelligent response, well done.."

[FT] Feedback about the task

  • FT is more powerful when it is about faulty interpretations, not lack of information If students lack necessary knowledge, further instruction is more powerful than feedback information. This would also be important for the students understanding how to interpret questions and what kind or response is required to address the question.
  • One of the problems of FT feedback is that is often does not generalise to other tasks. I think the ruric would address this as it offers generalised feedback but also interesting to note from the students feedback on the task was that some felt it needed to be more specific. Possibly adding e.g.s of portions of an essay that meet the criteria might help address this but there again that in itself will add to an already cumbersome rubric. Next time I will build up the rubric step by step through the year so the students aren't lumbered with the whole package until the end of the year and this way it might be possible to include examples as well.


Student feedback on the digital use of rubrics for peer review process

"To Tweet or not to Tweet"

The forums continue to be an ideal area for posting exam questions to generate discussion as well as higher order thinking questions. They do require some 'driving' in order to encourage the students to avail themselves of the opportunity to hone their thinking skills. A further area for collaboration that has great potential for getting the students to think between the lines of the text and beyond the text is that of using twitter and mimes on facebook. I trialled using twitterfor the study of "Midsummer Night's Dream" with my Year 10A band class. The students had to register as a character from the play but they could adapt the name of the character to suit their interpretation of key aspects of the character. I chose Snug and his twitter handle was smugsnug. I then used a picture of a lion for his profile as one of his major concerns in the play within the play is that when he plays the part of the lion he might frighten the ladies. Of course by the time he has explained that he is just playing the part all the fright has totally gone out of his stage character. The 'smug' handle came to mind as a neat alliteration play on his name but thinking about it I realised that the way he tried to be so gallant towards the ladies could actually be interpreted as very smug.

This exercise was fun and afforded some deeper thinking about the characters. The activity was purposeful and authentic which is important for raising the level of motivation and engagement. I would allow more time for the activity than I had this year and bring the ‘tweets’ into the lessons as well as show more specifically how the activity could help the students in their assessment responses as a way of maximising the potential of this activity for learning and achievement.


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