The 4th largest school district in the U.S, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, excites students and teachers to use ePortfolios by hosting a high energy event around CTE, STEM and STEAM.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) is the 4th largest school district in the U.S. The district holds 392 schools—133 of them have made it to the list of 2020 Best High Schools, according to the U.S News & World Report. In addition, four of their high schools are among the top 100 in the nation, and nine of their high schools are in the top 20 for Florida. Often recognized as a leader in education, the district continues to grow by innovating ways to intrigue students and encourage their learning.
In 2018, the Dade School CTE Program at Turner Tech first started using bulb and then expanded to all NAF students across their network. At first, they used the platform in simple, small ways to achieve short-term goals. Over time, they started applying the digital portfolio for other reasons and expanded its use around the district, eventually encouraging all students to use it. They wondered – what would be the most captivating and exciting way to motivate students to create and maintain their own digital portfolio? Thus, they added a ePortfolio Challenge to their already successful annual Innov@ate Challenge. This challenge, along with Miami-Dade’s use of the digital portfolios over time, has gotten students and teachers excited about the possibilities of using the tool.
Miami-Dade Innov@te Challenge
Miami-Dade Innov@te Challenge is one of the teachers’ and students’ favorite days. The annual competition grows every year with more participants, attendees, educators, mentors, scholarships, guest speakers, and more. The energy is electric at this event. Students can walk around and network, they can participate in any of the STEM and STEAM challenges, and they can get creative in their own way within any category.
At the Innov@te Challenge in December 2019, there were 22 challenges (see here), including the ePortfolio competition. Students were asked to create a bulb digital portfolio to tell their story in front of a panel of judges.
One of the judges for the eportfolio competition was Keynote speaker, Justin Shaifer, also known as Mr. Fascinate. His mission is to inspire under-represented kids to pursue STEM and STEAM careers. Justin’s latest venture is the “Magic Cool Bus”, a mobile STEM exhibit that excites kids in the New York City area. Learn more about this venture here.
Students who participated in the ePortfolio challenge were asked to build a portfolio to showcase their best work from their high school years. They were encouraged to include extracurricular activities, passion projects, talents and an About Me page. The goal: to create an ePortfolio to share when applying for internships, jobs, and to colleges. After presenting their portfolios, the five judges then presented feedback to the students as if they were potential employers.
The students were judged on three main categories:
1. Ability to showcase their personality and tell their full story using their digital portfolio.
2. Organization and appearance. The portfolio needed to be well organized, easily navigable, and visually appealing, all while showcasing the student’s personality.
3. Quality of the content included in the portfolio. Students were encouraged to use audio, video, embed their work, and use pictures to show what they know and who they are.
When asked about why the students chose to participate in this challenge over the other categories, here’s what a few participants said:
“Making something that’s personal to me is really important because it helps me improve myself when I’m looking at different parts of me.” —Ciara | Miami Sunset Senior High School
“Most people I’ve asked about the program say it seems wonderful – and that the portfolio really showcases me as a person.” —Sadre | William H. Turner Tech High School
“The main reason I did this competition was to put myself out there and gain experience from it. it wasn’t about winning. I wanted to get feedback on my portfolio, to make it better to get a job or an interview.” —Berniya | William H. Turner Tech High School
Take a look at the competition
What is bulb Digital Portfolios?
Miami-Dade Innov@teePortfolio Challenge
After the challenge
Since this event, Miami-Dade has expanded the use of bulb Digital Portfolios across the district, which was spurred by COVID-19 and remote learning. Remotely, Miami-Dade uses digital portfolios to engage daily with one another, to create and collaborate on assignments, and to continue working on end-of-year capstone projects. Teachers have continued to conduct alternative assessments and they are now preparing for the 2020-’21 school year, which includes digital portfolios.
Stay tuned to hear more about the Miami-Dade story. For ideas on how to get students and teachers excited and inspired about using ePortfolios to showcase and tell their full story, you can listen to Principal Frazier’s experience, Principal of William H. Turner Tech High School, here.
“I was most impressed with the student’s ability to speak so eloquently and passionately about what they did. It’s just so inspiring. They are committed to making a difference, they are so committed to their own success, regardless of their situations. They want to make a positive impact in not only their community, but in the world. They’ve got dreams.” —Dana DellaCamera | Director of MDC Works | ePortfolio Challenge Judge