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How do I set up my classroom environment?
How do I set up my classroom environment?

How to create a classroom environment that fosters reflective inquiry and technology use.

Alasdair McMillan avatar
Written by Alasdair McMillan
Updated over a week ago

As you prepare to implement digital portfolios in your classroom, it is important for you to create a classroom environment that fosters reflective inquiry and technology use. 

To make it easy for you, we’ve broken down the process of creating an engaging classroom environment into four steps:

  1. Create your physical learning environment

  2. Set classroom expectations for portfolios

  3. Consider all learners

Create your physical learning environment

1. Set up the technology 

Make sure students have easy access to a personal device, or to shared device(s), so that they can build their portfolio as learning takes place in real-time. If students are using shared devices, you may wish to create a ‘cheat sheet’ with steps to follow for logging in/out of the device, charging the device, and storing the device for future use. 

TEACHER TIP: Have a “charging/device station” in your classroom to help students build a routine when using technology. This station can store other equipment, such as headphones with built-in microphone (headsets are great for students adding audio and video recordings to portfolios!)

2. Design a space to promote student reflection

To support reflective inquiry and metacognition (Read: How to use digital portfolios to promote metacognition in your classroom) provide opportunities for students to reflect on their work and self-assess. 

Educators have had great success with creating a quiet work space in their classroom dedicated to reflection (i.e., Reflection Corner with poster prompts)

TEACHER TIP: Schedule time in your first month of using portfolios to model self-assessment with students, and to introduce the ‘Reflection Corner’ you set up in your classroom.

3. Set up a collaborative workspace

Make it social! Integrate peer feedback in your classroom by creating a safe collaborative space for students to comment on each other’s portfolio posts as part of the learning journey. This can be the same physical space students use to reflect on their work. 

Educators can post a rubric for peer feedback and examples of constructive, encouraging feedback for peer assessment in this physical space. The digital portfolio will then become an integral part of your classroom community. 

TEACHER TIP: Schedule a peer feedback session with the entire class. Post a journal entry in SpacesEDU that walks through the peer review process with students (i.e., How to make use of the rubric, how to provide constructive feedback, etc.)

Set classroom expectations for SpacesEDU

Define digital citizenship with your students

Read 12 Tips for helping students keep a positive digital footprint for ideas or keywords that work with your classroom environment. These words will help you prepare a definition for what “digital citizenship” looks like in your classroom 

Outline your portfolio expectations for students

Consider the following when determining portfolio expectations:

  • How many posts will students add to their portfolio each week/month?

  • When are students expected to build their portfolios from home?

  • How often will you assign students activities to complete in portfolios?

  • How many activities will students have to complete per week/month?

TEACHER TIP: Begin each week by assigning students a new activity, then send a mid-week message to check in with students, and provide feedback on student work.

  • How are students expected to communicate their questions regarding a portfolio activity?

  • Are there specific hours that you will be available to respond? How long of a response time should students expect between asking a question and receiving an answer?

  • How frequently will you provide feedback to students? What kind of feedback will be provided?

  • What kind of a routine will you set up for students to share and reflect on learning using portfolios? Remember, consistency is key with students. Setting a routine that students can rely on will help them to remain on track and focused on their learning. 

TEACHER TIP: Set time aside each week for students to upload evidence of learning to a portfolio and reflect on at least one post.

Consider All Learners 

Spark student creativity 

Leave room for students to personalize their portfolios. Encourage students to experiment with different types of media content, such as video/audio recordings to better meet students’ diverse learning needs. 

By choosing their own medium, students will communicate their ideas better and feel like the learning process is more relevant to them. 

Encourage your tech-savvy students to mentor their peers

Do you already have a tech-buddy system in place in your class/school? Your student experts can help with digital portfolios! Provide opportunities for tech-savvy students to help their peers. 

Such experiences will allow students to further develop their problem-solving skills, strengthen their peer relationships, and deepen their understanding of the course/subject content taught in your classroom. 

Now comes the fun part! 

It’s time for you to schedule a date to introduce students to portfolios. Read on in the Getting Started section of our Help Center for tips on how to succeed.

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