Chapter 1: Setting the Vision

This post is part of the online study group and discusses Chapter 1 of David Niguidula’s book Demonstrating Student Mastery with Digital Badges and Portfolios, published by ASCD. You can read Chapter 1 online.

Essential Questions:

  • What does mastery look like?
  • What can portfolios tell us about students as learners – and as individuals?

If your school is like most, you probably have a mission statement. And if your school’s mission statement is like most, it probably includes something about having all of our students achieve excellence (or proficiency or competency or mastery) across the curriculum.

It’s a noble goal. But what does it actually look like for students to achieve mastery?

Our traditional indicators, such as grades and test scores, provide some sense of student achievement, but by definition, report card grades represent averages over a quarter or a year. “Mastery” implies something different: that a student can demonstrate skills or knowledge in a sustained way when the situation calls for it.

At the same time, there is a desperate need to become more personalized in our approach to education; students need to show how they learn best, what their interests are, and their particular struggles and successes.

Digital Badges and Portfolios can help schools simultaneously work towards high standards of achievement and personalized understanding of each student.

Chapter 1 begins with a few illustrations of students talking about the work they have added to a digital portfolio, and what they have done to earn a digital badge. The types of conversations can vary, based on grade level and the type of work being reviewed. But if you want to have a vision for your students, it helps to think about what you would want to hear in a conversation at your school.

If you asked a student right now to show their evidence that they have achieved mastery, what would they show you? What would mastery mean to them, to your faculty, to your parents, to your community?

The chapter talks about a few different types of portfolios (best work, subject-specific, project-based) and some ways of organizing badges (one set of “required” badges that all students need to complete and another set of “my interest” badges that are specific to the individual student).  But the set-up that will work best for your setting will stem from your purpose and vision.

As we go through the rest of the chapters, we’ll see more of the details on how badges and portfolios can be implemented. To get started, let’s talk about what a vision can look like at your school. To get the ball rolling, here are some questions:

  • What do you hope digital badges and portfolios will do for your school?
  • How can badges and portfolios represent your school’s definition of mastery?
  • What could students put into a portfolio to represent a student’s personal interests? What personal badges might they want to earn?

Please feel free to comment in the space below!  

Digital Badges and Portfolios: The Online Study Group

Welcome back to the Richer Picture blog!

Over the next six weeks, we are going to discuss the essential questions of setting up digital badges and portfolios.

We’ll follow the outline of my new book, Demonstrating Student Mastery with Digital Badges and Portfolios. Each week, we’ll talk about a different chapter:

  • Chapter 1. Setting the Vision
  • Chapter 2. Defining Badges
  • Chapter 3. Creating Portfolio-Worthy Tasks
  • Chapter 4. Effective Feedback with Schoolwide Rubrics
  • Chapter 5. Tours: Student Presentations of Portfolios
  • Chapter 6. Creating a Badge- and Portfolio-Friendly School Culture

I’ll post a short item here in our blog, and you’ll be able to contribute to the conversation in the comments. (If you are coming to this page after the original study session dates, please feel free to add to the conversation anyway! We’ll keep checking this site over time.)

We hope you’ll share your thoughts about what works for you, what obstacles you might face in your setting, and how you have been able to overcome them. Everyone is welcome!