Who am I?

Sarah Allred is the Instructional Lead Teacher at Braxton Craven School, an all 6th grade middle school. She has 15 years of teaching experience at the middle school level. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education earned at the University of NC Greensboro, National Board Certification in Early Adolescent English Language Arts, and a Master of Arts in Education in Instructional Technology earned at East Carolina University. She has taught language arts, social studies, science, and technology. She serves her school in many leadership roles. Her passion is searching for new ways to use technology to improve student learning. Additional roles she fills are mother of two amazing kids, and wife of a police officer. She enjoys reading, gardening, and digital photography.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ePortfolios Episode 3

So I have to say that I'm feeling frustrated with finding the perfect solution for this right now. There are obviously tons of web 2.0 tools I could use for ePortfolios. I have to have something that allows kids under 13 to register. I want something that students can use to work on assignments and collaborate with others AND showcase completed assignments. I also want something that would not be overly difficult for students to use on their own. Google Apps for Education seems to be the perfect solution, but I need district approval, etc to get that going and I have yet to hear back from my tech department in response to this.

I am playing around with Wiki Spaces and LiveBinders to see if that would work, but I am unsure if either will offer all the functionality which I want.

I know the solution is out there - I've just got to find it!

Feel free to comment with any suggestions!

Friday, June 24, 2011

ePortfolios LiveBinder

I am collecitong information and resources about ePortfolios in a LiveBinder.  You can check out my binder here:  http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=127946

ePortfolios Eposide 2

My first instinct in trying out ePortfolios with my students is to use Google Docs.  I am familiar with it, it is easy to use, it is free, and accessible from any computer/device with internet access. The major issue I need to overcome if I decide to use Google Docs is creating student accounts.  I have to adhere to county guidelins related to having students sign up for online accounts, and want to be sure of student safety.  Google Aducation Apps seems to be the best way to deal with that issue, but again, I must get approval form administration and our tech departments.  So . . . I sent an email making the request . . . I feel a bit as if I threw a message in a bottle out into the Atlantic . . . we'll see what resonse I get.

In the meantime, I am exploring other options for using ePortfolios with my students.  I realize I could just do digital portfolios using PowerPoint or Word, but I really want the collaborative ability that a web portfolio makes possible, and the acessibility as well.

As I have been browsing, I came across a web 2.0 tool which I had not encountered before: LiveBinders (http://livebinders.com/ ).  This looks very interesting and quite useful for me.  It is essentially a webspace to organize and save files, webpages, videos, etc.  The neat factor is that you organize your digital stuff into virtual binders with tabs much like the huge paper binders most teachers have lining their bookshelves.  This may or may not turn out to be the best tool for eportfolioing with students, but I have to say that the thought of having all of my binders of teacher resources and so on available wherever I am online, instead of lugging those heavy dusty binders around is VERY appealing!

Based on my first impression, LiveBinders would be a good place for students to store and organize their stuff, although may not allow the collaboration I was hoping for.  Additionally, signing up requires an email, and requires users to be at least 13.  I found an interesting work around for this by using my gmail address plus the students name to sign up. Ex- myemail+studentname@gmail.com    

I'm going to play with LiveBinder a bit more to see if it might work for me.  Maybe I will create a binder of resources useful for ePortfolios?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ePortfolios Episode 1

I am beginning this journey with a vague vision of what using ePortfolios in my classroom might look like, and with great anticipation of how this might promote spectacular learning growth with my students.  I know a little about ePortfolios, and a bit more about using portfolios in general.  I have lots of bits and pieces of ideas bouncing in my mind about tools I might could use. . . but essentially I am staring into an unknown land ready to explore.  I have LOTS of questions . . .

What software tools would be the easiest to use AND most effective?
What hardware will need to be available?
How often should students work on portfolios?
What formats might portfolio entries take?
Will the permissions regulated by my county allow the freedom needed to make this work?
Could I possibly integrate the use of student cell phones and/or other mobile devices?
Where in the world should I start?
Will my daughter be willing to be my guinea pig to help me learn about ePortfolioing?

Yikes!  I have to stop with all the questions. More and more keep tumbling out of my mind, and I'm getting a little nervous about it all.  Time to head to my favorite search engine and see what I can find . . .  

Summer Tech Adventure

With school out for the summer, I am enjoying some much needed time to relax and enjoy my own children.  This also allows me some time to reflect on the past school year, and think about improvements for the upcoming year. Two topics I am currently interested in exploring are using ePortfolios to enhance student learning, and using technology to differentiate instruction.

So I am getting ready to embark on an adventure to learn as much as I can about these subjects and come up with a blue print for how I can incorporate them into my classroom in the upcoming year.  I honestly have no planned route for how I will get there, and I am excited to see what I will discover along the way.  I plan to blog my journey so that my experiences might assist other explorers. 

Wish me luck!