It began as a conversation with fellow colleagues about engaging our upcoming grade 7 students in their learning. This was last June, the end of the school year. Part of the inspiration came from Rockridge Secondary, and the learning logs which helped facilitate student ownership and responsibility for their assignments. And part of the inspiration came from an idea that our youngest students were coming not only to high school, but were moving through an educational system in flux. They were digital learners, and digital citizens. How do we address their needs, while maintaining a focus on learning? Furthermore, how do we move from a culture of marks and assignments to a culture of improving learning?

Part of the solution was technology, and part of it was a collaborative effort on behalf of educators willing to come together and learn themselves, with a focus on: building a technology skillset, assessment as learning through an eportfolio framework, and working collaboratively to support our youngest learners.

In September of 2010, a group of four grade 7 educators, including the HCE, Math, Art, Social Studies, and English teachers came together in a five-part after-school iE-Portfolio series of workshops designed to build technology skills and confidence, and to learn about assessment as learning through an eportfolio framework.

What followed was the beginning of an exciting learning journey for both educators and students. The grade 7 students developed their eportfolios and learning logs, and with the help of the Learning Resource Teacher, compiled their personalized learning inventories. Although it was sometimes a rocky start, with technology glitches and lost passwords, what transpired was exciting and innovative. By December, the students had a basic eportfolio and some subject-specific learning log entries. They came together with the Psychology 11/12 students in a buddy interview scenario, during which both sets of students learned about each others goals, skills, and interests. The additional benefit was that a connection was made between younger and older students, a vital component of community-building.

What struck me was that the grade 7 students were proud of their work, keen in their goals, and willing to use technology to enhance and extend their learning. It was an exciting day, and the true beginning of an exciting journey that extended beyond a single classroom and with a talented group of educators...