Capstone Innovation Project Update

What have I done so far?

ePortfolio implementation has been in place since August-September of 2021 in my classroom with a focus on science content. Small everyday tasks make it seem like I haven’t made it very far in the process but an overall look at the project and progress made show otherwise.

In the span of seven months I have learned how to create a learning environment that supports ePortfolios for my 5th grade students. The impact this one change has made in my classroom makes me wish I had done so several years ago. My students are growing and becoming more confident learners that enjoy being and school and want to be there.

I have presented a proposal for my professional learning course on ePortfolios and Elementary Age Students and have been given the approval to move forward with that. It is being offered this summer and I have began signing up teachers on my campus to attend.

What do I still need to do?

ePortfolios have been implemented in one of our five 5th grade classrooms, which would be mine. As far as implementation in my room is concerned I am not on track with where I expected to be at this point of our school year. Progress has been inconsistent and more time consuming than I had originally planned. I still need to put the finishing touches on the professional learning course I am presenting this summer and move forward with 3rd through 5th grade full implementation.

What worked well?

This innovation project has been evolving over the course of a year and I have shifted focus a few different times to really make this fit where I wanted it to. Since this project is not school wide just yet, outside feedback has been limited to just my students thus far and trial and error from myself. I do not see this as a linear path to completion, but more of a cyclical route that allows for opportunities of refinement and is ongoing.

Trial and error has been the quickest way for me to gauge what was working and what needed to be revisited. Giving very definitive parameters for student usage turned out to be the best fit for our room and content. Most students struggled with having very vague requirements in the very beginning. After making a few changes to that part of our implementation, their contributions to their portfolios each day began to improve.

Planning ahead for what I wanted the students to use their portfolios for each week was a game changer. I began with leaving it open ended but soon realized that they were missing out on some of the most important opportunities for reflections with our lessons.

What needs more adjusting?

My timeline needs to be adjusted to fit the progress that I’ve made in my classroom with implementation. I am not as far as I thought I would be with student usage and I now know that other grade levels need a more realistic timeline for their own students.

I would also like to include step by step videos for our teachers that focused on how to use ePortfolios specific to their grade level. I think this would be more beneficial than trying to decide what to take from my original videos to use in their classrooms.

What lessons have I learned?

Patience. Lots and lots of patience. My students have taken things in stride but for me I am learning to not lean on perfection and more on the side of growth in learning. I tried to implement my entire project all at once and that turned out to be a mistake. It was better to start with small chunks and increase a little at a time. The students were able to grasps those skills first before moving on.

Learning to move towards a growth mindset was the most beneficial thing for me. I never realised how my brain thought on such a fixed level until moving through this program. During the first stages of planning and implementation I fought the need to make the shift, but a few months in the trenches of full implementation in my classroom I realized just how much I needed to embrace it. I knew that pushing against the change would just affect the outcome I was pushing towards. I have noticed that the way I speak to my students is more encouraging that it was before. There’s a fine line 5th grade teachers walk to prepare their students for the harsh reality that awaits them in jr. High. I have always been more of a factual responder and I thought this was only helping my students for next year. My conversations with my students are focused on how hard they have worked and how much progress I have seen as compared to great scores.

What are my long term goals for my innovation project?

Over the summer, I will offer professional learning for ePortfolio implementation for the teachers on my campus. We will focus on each grade level from 3rd-5th. During this time it is my plan to dig into the courses they would like to see implementation and help plan on good quality usage.

Long term goal is to offer the same opportunity to the 14 other elementary schools in our district. My plan is to have every class of 3rd through 5th graders using ePortfolios for their science learning reflection. I have planned for this to be in place within the next 2-3 years. With increased usage on my home campus I will be able to use that data to show student growth and present that to our district curriculum department.

How would you apply what you have learned to your next innovation project?

My next innovation project is most likely going to be problem-based learning in our math classrooms. I will 100% use each step I have taken in this project design to begin a new one. Starting at the beginning with our Why and moving though each of the planning phases is going to be key to a successful project.