In my last entry I gave several reasons why I think having students write in blogs would be an excellent way of increasing math scores on state tests. The premise behind this conclusion is that writing in blogs would help students when they are confronted with extended reponse items, or questions that require an explanation as part of the answer. As part of this assertion I described many valuable features of a blog that promote the growth of student writers--the ease with which one can receive feedback through comment links, providing students with an audience through the Internet, and observing growth throughout the school year by collecting all the entries on a single Web page. All of these are features that make blogs perfect for use as digital portfolios. Perhaps, then, I should revise my declaration and state that using blogs as digital portfolios would be an excellent way to increase math scores on state tests.
So how would this look in practice? I think every student and teacher should be set up with a blog account. Teachers could give students an extended response item to solve that fits into the curriculum begin studied at the time. Students would work the solution individually, with partners, or in groups. Once a solution is found, the students could then post an explanation of how they solved the problem as an entry in their blogs.
The extended response is now available for feedback. During this feedback period, teachers can comment on the work by clicking on the comment link. Another option might be to assign a partner to each blogger and have them comment on the entry. After feedback is given, students could either revise the entry at that time, or use the information to improve upon the next entry.
This cycle--solving a problem, posting an explanation, receiving feedback--continues throughout the school year. The entries will accumulate and eventually form a body of work that will show how the student's writing has progressed over the course of the school year. This type of portfolio is known as a growth portfolio.
There are so many questions that still need to be answered (and generated). Future posts will consider them.