Today my fifth grade daughter, Sarah, brought home her elementary writing folder. This folder includes samples of her writing dating all the way back to first grade, and she’s never been able to bring it home previously. She was excited to read me several of her essays, so I suggested we record them on the iPad so they’d be preserved digitally. I’m sure at least her grandparents will be interested in listening to her read these expressively! My desire to digitally document these “evidences” of her learning in elementary school are strongly influenced by H. Songhai‘s 2008 K-12 Online Conference presentation, “What Did You Do in School Yesterday, Today, and Three Years Ago,” and my experiences last May with my son documented in the post, “Throwing away 6th grade – OR – The case for online portfolios.” Tonight we needed a fast way to photograph Sarah’s work, audio record her reading of different essays, and share both media artifacts online. To do this, we utilized a free account on AudioBoo, an iPad2, and an iRig microphone.
In addition to posting these photos and audio recordings to my AudioBoo channel, I also used AudioBoo as we recorded these to Tweet out links and cross-post each AudioBoo page via email on our family learning blog, “Learning Signs.” This two-part sharing process took literally 10 seconds each after she recorded each writing sample.
Sarah can read very expressively, and it was not only fun to review her writing progress over the years tonight, but also remember together many of the things that have happened since we moved to Oklahoma from Texas five years ago. Without a doubt the most touching essay Sarah read tonight was “Yellow Cards.” It made us both cry. In it, she recounts a story about Kent Wilson, who was a member of our church and Sunday School teacher who was very dear to Sarah. It is precious to have this story recorded in her voice, at age 10.
Initially I was going to use the Cinch app (also free) on the iPad to record and share these audio recordings with accompanying photos. For some reason, however, the app was crashing on my iPad. I already had AudioBoo downloaded and configured. It worked great for this purpose!
By the time we finished recording all these essays, after about an hour, Sarah was pretty tired! This was my favorite photo of the evening, as she used one of my shoes as a microphone stand for the iRig mic.
As school wraps up here in the northern hemisphere, consider ways you can digitally document some of your students’ work and the work of your own children or grandchildren from the past academic year. Digital portfolios are wonderful assessment resources, and can provide a rich window into the skills, perceptions, ideas, and knowledge of learners. Mobile devices like the iPad which take photos, record audio, and allow immediate online sharing of those files make the creation of media-rich digital portfolios more “doable” than ever.
For more information about using a free Posterous site to cross-post to a blog, as we did tonight with Learning Signs, see my May 9th post, “Configure Autoposting to a WordPress Blog from Emails via Posterous.”
Remember to follow Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wesley's Facebook pages for "Speed of Creativity Learning" and his eBook, "Playing with Media." Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Mapping Media to the Common Core / Curriculum."