Do More, Be More with a Domain

Thinking back to my own schooling experiences, I can’t remember ever being asked to become a curator of my own learning. In asking my colleagues to reflect on this same idea, most of them could not recall having to do this either. Responsibility for learning was never really a public affair for us growing up. Rather, our knowledge and accomplishments were showcased through the completion of tests, projects, research papers, and homework – all great ways to assess understanding of a students learning, but not very powerful in allowing students to reflect on their learning nor understanding how to present themselves responsibly within the public domain.

Since working at an Expeditionary Learning School for the last 3 years of my teaching career, I have come to realize just how important being able to post to a public audience is to the learning of my students. As a part of our school philosophy, we coach every student starting in grade 6 on how to showcase their learning journey through the curating of a digital portfolio. Being a part of a public school, we do not have the ability to let students have their own public domain such as the schools that I read about in Audrey Watter’s post, “The Web We Need to Give Students.”  so the public aspect to our students’ portfolios isn’t quite as extensive as those found in this article. Like the article mentioned, they too have the ability to include text, images, video, and audio recordings to personalize their journey. To quote the article, “[these] opportunities [allow students] to express themselves in a variety of ways beyond the traditional pen-and-paper test or essay. After engaging with this article further, I realize that our system definitely has room for improvement when it comes to coaching students on digital story-telling. Oftentimes, I as a teacher get so caught up in figuring out how to coach students to post responsibly that I forget to relax on certain criteria and allow students some freedom in how to design their own website or make their own decisions for what to include in it. One particular sentence in the article resonated with me and forced me to confront this particular downfall with our system.

“Schools routinely caution students about the things they post on social media, and the tenor of this conversation — particularly as translated by the media — is often tinged with fears that students will be seen “doing bad things” or “saying bad things” that will haunt them forever.”

The teachers and I at my school are at times guilty of harboring this fear and allowing it to drive our digital citizenship talks. At times, it also puts a damper on students’ creativity within their portfolios. Further reflecting about this, I am wondering what my team and I could do better to allow students to express their learning while still helping them to understand “how to think through the data trails they’re leaving behind?”

This reading also forced me to confront how I ask students to showcase their proficiency in my math classroom and realize that I could do more to reach out to different learning style through digital story-telling. What if my students kept a digital portfolio instead of a notebook? What if instead of traditional notes, they created their own mathematical archives and domains through video and visuals?  What if students created their own versions of tests and quizzes via blogs and held each other accountable for the learning on a public domain?  It looks like I have a lot of re-thinking to do as a result of engaging with this reading.





6 thoughts on “Do More, Be More with a Domain

  1. Hey Stephanie,
    It was great reading your post because having the student create their own learning portfolio allows students to become self-aware of their learning and are better able to set and make future goals for themselves. As for your questions that you stated at the end of your blog, do you envision yourself incorporating math into a learning domain? It would be an incredible and fun way to engage in math; definitely different than how I was taught math. I look forward to hearing more about how you are incorporating digital storytelling into your student’s math curriculum.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading your assessment. I especially like ho wit opened your eyes to some thing. I think you bring up a very relevant point about the fear that something we post is going to reflect badly on us. I think this can bring up an interesting discussion about perceptions and perspectives. And I have two trains of thought on this. First, maybe we should be telling kids and people what they should and shouldn’t be posting (yes, I can hear the collective gasp now). Maybe what we should be teaching them is understanding how actions can be perceived and how those perceptions can affect future opportunities. And I say this because for every post you tell a child they shouldn’t make, there will be 10 more that you don’t even think of. But if we educate our children more about how the world works and how our digital footprint can follow us around, even years and decades later, hopefully they will be more cognizant of the brand they hope to show the world. Second, I think as a society, we are quite hung up on appearances, and what we should and shouldn’t be doing. There are definitely things that we shouldn’t do, but overall, i think we need to work on our judginess. What one person sees as flaky, another might see as free spirited; what one person sees as reckless, another might see as adventurous. My point, really, is that yes, we should be careful about what we put out there in the social realm, but i think we are at a wonderful point in our history to start reexamining our perceptions and out beliefs. And I truly love this idea of having a digital space that is yours and that follows you throughout your life where you can build and share your experiences.

    Thank you for your insights on this article!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    I really enjoyed your perspective on this article. It’s great that your school is incorporating digital portfolios for your students. I have tried digital portfolios with my students in past and I can never seem to keep up with them, but since hearing your story, it might be something to attempt in the future.

    I like that you address how public schools really cannot allow students to have their own public domain. That was one issue I had with this article is how the author really stressed the idea of students have their own domains. This is a challenge in public schools due to various laws about cyber security we need to follow.

    I’m curious if you guys will see an increase in creativity if you limit the scare tactics behind your digital citizen talks. Although I think digital citizenship is important, I think there are better ways to explain this to students without ruining their thrill of learning and creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thoughtful commentary and response to the article Stephanie. Glad you read this one because it is so applicable to your current school context. I appreciate the connections you have made to your students.

    Liked by 1 person

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