Today, teams of Bryant Middle School teachers got together to learn how to help students take their My Learning Plan (MLP) online. Over the next couple weeks, students will begin creating pages on Mahara, Dearborn’s ePortfolio system. These MLP pages will include their NWEA scores, their academic goals for all of the core areas and extended core, and their personal goals. And each team of teachers is currently thinking of ways to help students showcase even more of who they are using these pages.
Last year, a team of 6th grade teachers, including Allie Bailey, Erica Dailing, Dennis Dicks, and Patricia Griffin piloted the process with their students. Students did an amazing job with the help of these teachers to create their pages and even begin to personalize their MLPs in some unique ways. This year, the whole school is on board to help students in all grades at Bryant do the same.
Previously, students kept their My Learning Plan in their planners, where some of the first pages in the planner gave students room to record their scores and set goals. This method brought some unfortunate consequences, as whenever a student misplaced his or her planner, all of the student’s work on MLP would be gone. Since My Learning Plan is an initiative that requires continuity, this is an obvious problem. Taking MLP online solves this problem and also helps the school meet some of its goals related to technology integration at the same time.
But there are other benefits to students of using Mahara for their MLP. One of these is the student-centered nature of Mahara and ePortfolios, in general. In creating their pages, students essentially begin with an open canvas. And while there are certain minimum requirements of all students in keeping with the MLP initiative, students also have the opportunity to personalize their pages, to see their goals published online, and to begin to add other elements that truly represent who each student is academically. Students can, for instance, begin to upload artifacts of their work from the year to show evidence that they have met their goals. Some examples of evidence could be those in the form of documents, presentations, videos, or photographs of their physical projects. All of this is possible because of the choice of tool.
Another benefit of going this direction of hosting students’ MLP online is that the student’s MLP is accessible anywhere, and can be visited and revisited anywhere a student is connected. One team of teachers today discussed an early activity they may require of students which involves having them discuss their MLP with their parents and show evidence of the conversation. Other teams spoke of the possibility of having a handful of Chromebooks on hand for conferences and asking students to log in and have their MLP ready to discuss while they wait, then centering the conference on what they have to say about their MLP.
The Tech Coaches are looking forward to the great things students will be doing as they take their MLP online. The possibilities are unlimited. Students at Bryant have already gone beyond what we imagined, simply due to the fact that creative kids had access to a super-flexible digital platform. Stay tuned for updates on what amazing things Bryant students will do this year!
Mahara is Dearborn Public Schools’ ePortfolio platform. Students and staff can collect, curate, and showcase their best work using Mahara. Students can keep their work and build their ePortfolio througout their time in the Dearborn Schools.