Show your Work

Austin Kleon’s book, “Show your Work,” was the spark I needed to purchase my own domain name and begin this online portfolio.  Thank you, Austin, for writing concisely, precisely and eloquently about the importance of showing your work in ways that spoke to my heart and mind. 

 

Over the last year, I’ve thought quite a bit about how I show my work, our work, and my students.  As a teacher, I am broadly interested in the “why” and “how” for student learning.  As an educator set on teaching citizenship, empathy, and innovation, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to reimagine education to realize these goals.  I believe online portfolios have the potential to radically transform the way we learn in ways that foster relationships, empower problem-solvers with new skills sets, reframe the meaning of failure and build connections between people and communities far and wide.  Learning portfolios are tools to foster citizenship, empathy and innovation for a lifetime of learning.

 

I was originally drawn to portfolios as a replacement for the numbers/letters (grades) we assign to student work that falsely signal that 1) learning is complete for that particular skill/content area 2) they should follow all assignment expectations 3) The end result (product) matters more than the process and progress 4) Failure is the worst possible outcome. 

 

I believe creativity and entrepreneurship can be taught, but only if we move beyond the archaic, limited, often-arbitrary architecture of the point and letter based system we have to come to perceive as the ultimate gauge of educational success.  It’s vital that we move beyond grades and start “showing our work” through the use of online portfolios to:

 

1) Value progress and process more than product

2) Highlight life-long learning and celebrate learners (encourage voracious learning)

3) Learn publicly, fail publicly and empower others to take learning risks

4) Creative skill development beyond the confines of rubrics and expectations

5) Transform the role of teacher into learner

6) Align incentives structures in the classroom with incentive structures in life

 

However, online portfolios are more than alternative means of evaluation.  Portfolio-based assessment is a powerful tool for transforming school, but it also resonates into many other areas of life. 

 

This portfolio is my attempt to unlock the power of learning, failing, and voraciously pursuing goals -- publically.  I also don’t think it’s fair to preach the importance of portfolios without developing one myself because I think modeling is fundamental in the learning process.  This is my learning journal and part of my personal transformation from thinking of myself as a teacher to considering myself as a learner amongst many.  Finally, I consider this site to be a small contribution to the web of knowledge from a beginner’s mind.  Thank you for your interest in my process and progress.