Building a Legacy for Student Work


As I stare at the ever-growing stack of drawings, holiday-themed costruction paper projects, and various other “creations” brought home by my 5-year-old, I can’t help but wonder: what am I going to do with those? Will I still have them in 5 years? 10 years? Will I even be able to find them next year? I would love to tell you that I will keep these safe to give to my kids down the road (like my mom did with my Dukes of Hazzard matchbox cars – THANKS MOM!), but honestly, I’m not sure that I will. Organization isn’t exactly my strong suit. We might move. Maybe a squirrel will get into our attic and rummage through the box I put them in. I’m not really sure at this point what will happen, but it’s not looking good for my son.

But, honestly, I don’t really worry that much about this particular work, this singular year of pre-Kindergarten. I worry more about the bulk of the work he will complete from Kindergarten through 12th grade, the core work of learning that will shape and mold him into the adult he will one day become. And the good news is this: I won’t have to worry about where I put the paper, because the majority of his work will be DIGITAL. That’s right. I’m not sure he will ever know the feeling of carrying a backpack laden with 47 pounds of Middle School textbooks, or figuring out which folder to put Spelling Test #39 in. He will, however, have to deal with managing files, cloud storage,  linking, and  manipulating an embed code. This is where my passion lies. How do we ensure that student digital work is saved, stored, and easily accessible to students & parents for years to come?



Digital portfolios or e-portfolios are rapidly gaining momentum in K-12 as a way to organize, share, and save student work. This year, as we began to discuss how to implement these at my elementary school, we were determined to forge ahead with a solution that could store any kind of student work – whether it be documents, a web link, or an embeddable object. Student documents are erased from their network drives at the end of each school year, and we have yet to embrace a cloud storage solution in my district, so we needed a way to ensure that their work isn’t gone forever. In the past, we copied their Home drives to a CD, then re-loaded that CD at the beginning of the next year. It was a good stopgap measure, but it didn’t do anything to address either web-based student work or our district’s server space issues.

We have chosen Weebly Campus as our platform for our e-Portfolios this year, and I believe that this solution will serve us well in the future. Students put in digital work (document, link, picture, embed code) in a blog format along with a text reflection on the work. This gives students a chance to reflect on the ISTE-S standards and it gives them their own digital workspace to show to parents and friends as well. I’m excited to see what our students will be able to accomplish with their own “websites”, and I believe that it will be another important way for us to tell our story and to better inform parents about the type of digital work that we are doing.

A digital legacy begins this year for 900+ students, and a very special 5-year-old’s will begin next year. Paper-loathing parents everywhere will surely breath a sigh of relief.


How are you preserving student work? Are their blogs/websites password protected? Please share your ideas and experiences with storing and showcasing digital student work in the comments below.





How to Avoid Technology Overload

Image courtesy of Chaney

Image courtesy of Chaney

“Another Web Tool? Seriously? I already forgot about the one you shared last week!”
“I have no idea what my password was for that site! I don’t even remember my username!”
“Let me do a Google search. I’m sure I can find that site I used last year.”

Sound familiar? Have you found yourself saying any of these things recently? Teachers at my school certainly have. We are bombarded daily with new web tools, apps, and technology-centered activities for students, yet we rarely hear about structured ways to organize the “digital mess” that all of this information creates in our computers, tablets, and most of all, in our brains.

Stop. Pause. Take a breath. It’s time to step back from the student aspect and take some time to focus on what teachers need to be able to effectively facilitate instruction with digital content. Gone are the days of the 38-mile-long bookmarks list on Internet Explorer and the passwords piled up on sticky notes. We need modern solutions to the problem of storing & classifying our 138 favorite websites (and the passwords that go along with them), the 347 good ideas we had last month, and maybe even where we put our glasses. Has anybody seen my coffee cup?

As I prepare to lead technology staff development at my school, one central question keeps popping up in my mind. How can I possibly expect someone to remember, let alone use, this next great digital tool.  The answer is, quite simply, I can’t. I can’t ask a teacher to put another tool in their digital tool belt without first offering some solutions to the electronic clutter that we are currently wading through. Here are 3 categories of digital tools that I believe are essential for every teacher. You only need to choose one from each category, but make sure that you do choose one from each to truly complete your digital tool belt.


Password Storage 

Keeper Security – Web, chrome extension, iOs, Android, Windows mobile (pretty much anything!) –  free trial, $9.99/yr

LastPass – Just like Keeper security, works on pretty much any browser and mobile device – free limited version, paid for full


Online Bookmarking/Note-Taking

Evernote – The go-to app for syncing notes and remembering everything you need. Available on all platforms with lots of great chrome extensions (Clearly, Clipper) as well. Great apps like Skitch & Penultimate can sync with it also. Free to upload 60MB per month, premium plans available.

Wunderlist – I haven’t tried this one yet, but many people I know swear by it. Similar to Evernote, it will sync info across all your computers and devices and also has a collaboration feature. Free to sign up with paid plans as well.

Google Keep – The web version of this one is great, but the mobile apps (iOS especially) still leave a bit to be desired. Still, it’s a great way to make to-do lists and manage tasks.

EduClipper – From our friends at EduTecher (@adambellow), this is a completely free, fully-customizable Pinterest-style website for teachers and students, with a recently-released iOS app. I am still in the early stages of exploring, but it looks like a fantastic way to curate content and cut through the clutter to access what you need to help your students.

Diigo – A great bookmarking tool with a free edition for educators. Diigo sports several great extensions and makes it easy to categorize, curate, and retrieve your favorite websites. On my list to try!

Pocket – Another content-curation and bookmarking tool. I will research this further in the near future!


Collaboration/Cloud Storage

Google Docs/Drive – The king of collaboration and cloud storage, all in one. ‘Nuff said.

Office 365 – Microsoft’s answer to the rise of Google Drive. Only $99 gets you the full office suite with a stripped-down version to use in the cloud. Many school districts are more comfortable moving to this than to Google Drive, but I have read many mixed reviews.

Dropbox – Cloud storage at its finest. I have been using this since its early inception – it’s a great way to back up files, photos, and share docs in the cloud with others (hint: invite friends to get more FREE storage!)

Box – Another nifty cloud storage tool. 10G of free storage up-front with nice integration from mobile apps. Give it a try!



Which of these tools are essential to your daily workflow? Are there any great ones that I missed? I am interested in helping teachers at my school improve their productivity and ability to absorb, organize, and store new information and ideas – to modernize their workflow (more on that in this post).

These 3 categories are definitely first on my to-do list. Now, where did I put that sticky note?