Before the Summer, I received an email from my sister-in-law in Australia, entitled “Maeve in Daycare”. She included a link to a Tumblr account and a password. When I visited the site, I was thrilled to see pictures and videos of my 11 month niece, painting, playing with blocks and dancing to her favourite songs. The daycare she attended had set up password-protected Tumblr accounts for each child and provided the details to the parents. The parents could use these details themselves, or in the case of my sister-in-law, pass them on to relatives. We were thrilled to see our cute little niece in her own environment, relaxed and interacting with others. It felt like a real window into her own little world.
It got me thinking! Could I do this with my own class? As an Infant teacher, I rely heavily on the principles of Aistear and active learning as much as possible in my lessons. As a result, I don’t have a lot of “book work” as evidence of learning and therefore, I often take lots of photos during the day, as a method of recording children’s work. These photos will often go on a wall display, onto the school blog or I stick them into a copy for each child. They love to bring them home and also I think that the parents like to see a little of what they have done that day. Another infant teacher complied some photos of each child into a slideshow, and then used these photos as talking points at the parent-teacher meetings. The children also love to see themselves on the IWB. At the end of each week, I often have a good batch of photos saved onto my computer. So I knew that I already had the photos to set up E-Portfolios, but it was just a matter of how to do it.
During the past few weeks, I have tried out the e-portfolios with a couple of children in my class. I decided to use Tumblr, as it was free and seemed simple to use. The fact that I could email the photos directly to the individual account was a huge bonus. I have been using my i-Phone in flight mode as a camera and taking my usual photos wherever necessary. I wait until I’m home, and then I go through my photos from the day and if I have a relevant photo, I simply e-mail it to the individual saved address for each child’s account. I can put the title in the email title and any quotes from the child or an explanation in the text box, and the child’s account is updated with the photo/text instantly. There is no need to download onto computer or upload to a site etc.. It is so quick and easy. I am aiming for 1 or 2 pictures of each child every week.
My next stage comes this week, when I will give the account information to the parents of the children involved. Then, I will go about expanding it to all of the children in the class. Setting up the account/password/email addresses is the only slightly time consuming bit, so I’m hoping that once that is finished, it will be simple enough to maintain. Then I will have an instant e-portfolio of each child, to use for my own assessment and record-keeping. Another interesting idea is that the account can travel through the school with the child, and by the time that they are in 6th class, they could log in and look through photos of their primary school years! For now though, I am concentrating on trying it out between now and Christmas! I will let you know how it goes. I am also interested in hearing from any other teachers who have used anything similar. How did it turn out? Any advice for me?