Parent-teacher conferences took on a new look last month for fifth graders at Kyrene de la Mirada Elementary School, with students taking the lead by showing their parents projects via an electronic portfolio.
The portfolios, presented on laptops, included presentations of projects, as well as a SmartBoard feature that allows parents to watch a video clip of their child solving a math problem, including an audio explanation of the steps that were followed in the process.
“I think parents pretty much see what their kids are capable of doing during the time when they’re using technology,” said Lisa Connor, assistant principal of Mirada.
“I think some parents don’t realize how much we can use technology here and how powerful it can be.”
Fifth-grade teacher Randi Malin held conferences with students and their parents, while other kids presented their electronic portfolios to mothers and fathers on laptops in her classroom.
Noah Lanouette, one of Malin’s students, took his father through all of the work he’s accomplished so far this year, all in an online portfolio he spent the past few weeks compiling.
“I think I like the math part the most, where I get to use the SmartBoard,” Noah said, as he played a video showing him solving a math problem.
“And if we ever need extra help, there’s a Web site with our homework and other sites for practice on certain subjects. It tells me the skills I’m missing, so I can focus on those.”
Malin also posts the portfolios online after parent-teacher conferences, so other family members who were not able to make it that day are able to see the child’s projects.
Noah’s father, Steve Lanouette, said the electronic portfolios help him to see what projects his child is working on, and encourages more parent involvement.
“Being able to go online and look at his grades, and look at some of the minor things that happen before the final grades are handed out, gives you an opportunity to see what you can help him with,” Lanouette said.
Bernice Figueroa, another parent in Malin’s classroom during the parent-teacher conferences, said the new technology has been a huge step in allowing her to track her kids’ progress.
Figueroa has one fifth-grader in Malin’s class, as well as an older son in high school.
“I have a 15-year-old, and even when he was in elementary, we couldn’t track his progress as much,” Figueroa said.
“Now, with the online portfolios and class Web site, it has helped tremendously.”
Bryan Brown, Figueroa’s fifth-grade son, demonstrated the math problem-solving skills he’s learned and presented his book report to his mother via his electronic portfolio.
“It was really easy to make the portfolio,”Bryansaid. “It was fun; you get to add videos and pages (of what he’d been working on).”
Malin said she updates her class Web site every day, adding specific notes for each student.
“Instead of parents getting upset, they can look on the Web site at any time and see exactly where their child is at,” she said.
“I had four kids who went through Kyrene; we didn’t have any of this then.”