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 learning environment
  2. Set classroom expectations for portfolios
  3. Consider all learners

Create your learning environment

1. Set up the technology

Make sure students have easy access to a personal device and internet connection so that they can build their portfolio from home.

With remote learning, you may with to encourage students to set up a quiet workspace in their home away from distractions (Read: How to set up a remote learning space for your kids). Encourage your students to establish a 'school zone' and 'fun zones'. For example, a 'fun zone' could be a place that includes toys and colored decorations for relaxation breaks, whereas a 'school zone' could be a quiet work area with their necessary school supplies and personal device.

TEACHER TIP: Equally important to setting up a work space is ensuring that students are taking breaks. Consider sending a message once or twice a day to remind students to get up and take a quick stretch break. This will allow them to refocus on the task they are working on.

2. Keep consistent by building a routine

When teaching and learning in a remote environment, consistency and routine are key. For example, why not begin each day by prompting students to answer a Teacher Post , then send a mid-morning message to check in with students, and provide afternoon feedback on student work? Setting a routine that students can rely on will help them to remain on track and focused on their learning.

Another way to keep track of student learning is through having students set daily and weekly goals regarding the learning that has been assigned to them. Consider beginning each day or week by having students set a new goal, and ending the day by having them reflect on their progress.

TEACHER TIP: With remote learning, it is very important to provide frequent feedback to students, to check for understanding and answer any questions they may have. With Spaces, you have the ability to provide feedback on students’ posts directly from within your account, and students will receive a notification in their account letting them know they have feedback.

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. While students can physically be together, social interactions should still be encourage!

Educators can create a Teacher Post to share a rubric for peer feedback and examples of constructive, encouraging feedback for peer assessment. The digital portfolio will then become an integral part of your remote learning community.

TEACHER TIP: Schedule a peer feedback session with the entire class. Add a Teacher Post in Spaces with a video that walks through the peer review process with students (see The Educator's Guide to making great videos)

Set classroom expectations for Spaces

With a remote learning environment, it’s very important to create a sense of community and collaboration, so that students don’t feel isolated learning from home.

An online classroom is still a class and it’s important that students know what is expected of them in terms of completing work, how to ask questions if they don’t understand something, how and when to contact you, and when they can expect responses. Consider the following when determining online classroom expectations to share with your students:

  • How often will you assign students activities to complete?
  • How many activities will students complete each day or week?
  • When are students expected to submit assignments?
  • How are students expected to communicate their questions regarding an assignment? 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?
  • How will you celebrate the “wins” together as a class?
  • What kind of a routine will you set up for students? (Think daily and weekly check-ins, the form that these will take, etc.)

It’s important to ensure that the expectations you set for your online classroom are sustainable for your students, but also for yourself in terms of providing feedback and responding to student inquiries.

Consider All Learners

1. 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.

2. Provide activity instructions in a variety of formats

With the learning occurring remotely, it’s important to keep your activity instructions clear and concise. Since students won’t be able to immediately ask their questions if they don’t understand something, consider providing your activity instructions in multiple ways, such as video instructions along with text to help students better understand what they are expected to do.

Did you know that with Spaces, when you create a Teacher Post you have the option of creating audio, video, and text instructions?

3. Be visible

Whether it be a quick check-in to see how students are understanding a concept or an activity, or providing feedback on an activity, it’s important that educators are visible in a remote learning environment.

Consider posting video feedback on students’ portfolio items, as a means of being present in the online classroom.

Teacher Tip: Looking to have a live face-to-face with one or more students? Why not have a daily group or class check-in via a Zoom call. It’s currently a free tool for teachers that provides an easy way to virtually connect with students and check-in with them on their learning.

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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