Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Saturday, 27 April 2013

End of the Year Academic and Reflective Portfolio

As yet another academic year slowly comes to an end, our students are about to embark on the most important assignment of the year in our syllabus; the Academic and Reflective Portfolio presentation.  Portfolio presentations are essentially a way for students to reflect on what they have learned and produced throughout the year, and they are quite common in Turkish education, all through K-12.  In the most basic format, students choose several projects or assignments that they have done during the year, then reflect upon not only what they learned, but also the reasons behind choosing those particular assignments.  Students then incorporate these assignments into a presentation, usually in PowerPoint, and show them to their teachers, as well as their parents, who are invited to come to school on that day.

Just to give you an idea of what its all about, please watch the following clip...

My colleague David and I, who have been teaching in Turkey for a combined 25 years, are both huge supporters of portfolio presentations.  They provide a fantastic opportunity for teachers to see just how much their students really have learned during the year in terms of their English language ability, in addition to their overall improvement in academic skills.  Furthermore, depending on how candid the students are, teachers can receive beneficial feedback by finding out what students really think of their chosen assignments, projects, or the curriculum as a whole.

Because we teach our students for more than 20 periods a week, there are a myriad of assignments and projects that they can theoretically choose from by the end of the year.  It could actually be quite a headache for them when trying to decide on what they should present, and where those assignments are now (because they most likely lost them). Therefore, just as our blog motto states, we Adopted and Adapted the basic idea of the portfolio and transformed it into something more suitable for our students' needs.  

The Criteria

First, we introduce the concept of the portfolio presentation via a Blendspace tutorial usually three-to-four weeks before the due date.  This gives them plenty of time to brainstorm, organize, prepare and practice their speeches by the time the portfolio day arrives.  Moreover, the Blendspace tutorial is shared with the students, as it has all of the information they will need to adequately prepare for the project, meaning that can check it anytime they wish.


(Click on the image to reach the Blendspace tutorial)

The tutorial provides our students with a list of academic skills, activities, projects, books and ICT tools that we have introduced to them during the year (see below).  The students must choose only three of these skills to present in their portfolio.

After deciding on the three skills they would like to present, we inform the students that they must make three PowerPoint slides for each skill.  Although they are free to design the slides in whatever fashion they wish, the slides must include the following three items:

Finally, in addition to the making the PowerPoint presentation, we also require our students to write up a reflective response on Penzu.  In it, the students simply further expand upon what they are going to/have present(ed) to us using the traditional five paragraph organizational model, meaning they will have an introduction, three body paragraphs based upon their chosen subjects, and a conclusion. An example of a student's response can be seen just below...

We began to use this style of portfolio presentation three years ago.  It is rewarding to see our students, who came to us with very little English in September, stand up confidently in front of us, and reflect on their academic successes of the year. By doing this, we are then able to find out students' opinions of our curriculum, some of which we hadn't known before, and that allows us to amend for the next academic year.  It also gives the students one final opportunity to show us what they have learned using proficient English and quality presentation skills.

Following on from this...

For both us and our students, the academic portfolio day is always special each and every year.  Both teachers and students give an astounding effort to make it successful and memorable.  Because of this, my colleague and I wanted to come up with a way to save these presentations for our records, as well as share them with our students and their families. We decided on first recording the presentations via our IPADs, and then creating a Blendspace tutorial for each student with all of the portfolio criteria included, as pictured below.


(Click on the image to reach the Blendspace tutorial)

Here is what we included...

Box 1: The student's picture on portfolio day (we ask them to dress professionally)

Box 2:  A brief introduction to the academic portfolio

Box 3:  A link to this very blog post in case the student's family members would like to learn more about the project in much more detail

Box 4:  The student's recorded presentation (linked via Google Drive)

Box 5: The student's PowerPoint presentation in video format (linked via Google Drive)

Box 6:  A link to the student's portfolio essay (linked via Penzu Classroom)

Box 7:  The student's final grade based upon our rubric (an image of the rubric is uploaded to Blendspace)

Box 8: A brief introduction to our 'Can Do Statement and Interview' language assessment method based on the CEFr(click here to reach David's published article in the ETAS Journal which fully explains the objective and process of it)

Box 9:  Both my colleague and I recorded an audio message for each student.  David focuses on their language development and which skills they need to improve on, whereas I remark upon their progress as student from a more holistic approach as their classroom teacher.

Boxes 10 and 11: Finally, as an extra gift to our students, we prepared a slideshow of the best moments of the year (linked via Google Drive)

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