Chapter 5: Tours – Student Presentations of Badges and Portfolios

This post is part of the online study group and discusses Chapter 5 of David Niguidula’s book Demonstrating Student Mastery with Digital Badges and Portfolios, published by ASCD.

Essential Question:

  • How do students present their best work?

In this social media age, it’s very easy for anyone to send their thoughts into the world. It only takes a few moments to create a tweet, a post or a text  – and that is fine for communication that is only meant to last for a few moments.

Every now and again, though, it’s useful for students to be a little more deliberate. A “tour” is a type of presentation where students can take a step back, look at their accomplishments, and consider what they have achieved.

A tour typically consists of multiple entries and a reflection. The students are given a set of guidelines for what they need to present; this lets the students curate the entries in the portfolio, and create a presentation. Teachers then review the work and determine if the tour meets the expectation (and thus, earn a badge).

One thing that’s important about a tour is that it is a collection of work. It’s not often that students are asked to look at more than one entry at a time; here, the student is deliberately being called upon to discuss how different entries show a variety of skills and abilities.

The guidelines of the tour can vary. Chapter 5 in the book discusses a number of different tours, including:

  • Subject-specific. Students can present a tour of their best work in a subject, such as writing or the arts. For the tour, the student can select the best work in different categories; for a writing tour, this might mean a best example of a report, a narrative, a work of fiction, and so on.
  • End-of-year / term. In this tour, students show their best work from a certain period of time. A middle or high school student might select a best entry from each class; an elementary student could show a sample of reading, writing, math and each subject. The tour, then, will show all the areas that the student is studying, and the student will discuss where their strengths lie and where they need improvement.
  • Growth over Time. The guidelines for a “growth” tour asks the student to select an entry from earlier in time, and to compare it to a more current entry. For example, we could record a video of a first grader reading independently at the beginning of the year, and then make another recording at the middle or end of the year. In the tour, we can review those two entries and see the students’ progress. (You can imagine the same kind of tour for older students who are, say, learning music or a world language.)
  • College / Career Readiness. This kind of tour can start by asking students what type of career they would like to pursue, and to select entries demonstrating they are ready for the college / career requirements. For example, a student interested in health care could include evidence of their work in science, and also include the reasons she wants to pursue this field (such as an essay on how a health care worker helped someone in her family). The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success has helped make it easier for connect this kind of tour and reflection to be part of the college admissions process; you can hear more in our webinar on New Directions in College Admissions here.

The book goes into more detail about how these tours can be assessed; as the Chapter 4 blog post mentioned, feedback is a critical component of any successful digital badge initiative. The presentation of a tour can be both an assessment and a celebration of accomplishments.

How do your students demonstrate the work in their portfolios? Please feel free to comment below.

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