Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Digital Portfolio Tools for Education

As a former high school English teacher, then Library Media Specialist, and now Instructional Technology Specialist, I am always on the lookout for new presentation tech tools.

One of the biggest trends that I am seeing at all the recently attended ed tech conferences and workshops (including at this year's ISTE conference) is the emphasis on allowing the expression of student voice.

I was particularly touched by one of ISTE's keynote speakers,  Jennie Magiera.  I highly recommend all educators watch and listen to her inspiring words.

In her keynote address, Jennie discussed "single stories" and how we often rely and judge others on singular understandings of people based on a specific set of characteristics. The goal, she said, is to focus on addressing the untold story rather than the one that can be seen on the surface.

The mistake in making false presumptions and not looking beyond the surface is also beautifully expressed in author Chimamanda Adichie's TedEd Talk "The Danger of the Single Story."

In summation of Chimamanda Adichie's TedEd Talk:

"Chimamanda tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding."

As teachers, how can we allow students to express themselves and to let their own stories be heard?

A great way to allow for students to tell their stories is through the creation of student digital portfolios!

 Digital portfolios can serve a variety of purposes.  Students are able to make them individualistic, have control over the look and design, while including content that they write, search for, and select. It becomes a  representation of who they are  - both as students and as people.

What a great way to highlight and showcase their unique voices in the classroom!

In this post, there are two free tech tools that are perfect for creating digital portfolios.

First, there's the website Bulb.

I love the polished look of Bulb digital portfolios.  And it's free!  Though teachers can pay for a subscription (which allows opportunities for a student management system and gives students the flexibility to work on portfolio pages collaboratively), the free accounts also provide more than enough options and features for students.  

One of the great features in Bulb is the ease of using Google Drive content.  

Students can make pages private for public viewing but can share with individuals. Pages created using Bulb has a setting to allow others to comment. 

This feature provides  a great opportunity to share your portfolio pages and to receive feedback from peers.

The ability to type in content (along with the capability to stylize the font and to create hyperlinks), import Google Drive files, include embedded videos and audio, and insert images are just a few of the generous features that Bulb provides with their free accounts.

I used Bulb with the 12th grade English teachers at my school when they were searching for a new presentation tool to use for their students' Senior digital portfolios.

You can view the sample porfolio template I created for them HERE.

Interested in implementing Bulb in your classroom? 

Feel free to use my How-To Guide for Creating Bulb Digital Portfolios with your own students!

 *Note - You will need to log into a Google Account in order to access and copy this guide into your own Google Drive!

The next tool I highly recommend using for the creation of digital portfolios is Adobe Spark Pages.  

This summer, I had the pleasure of attending one'of Monica Burns's tech workshop sessions on creating classroom videos using Adobe Spark.

I was so impressed at how user-friendly Adobe Spark is  - whether you create a video, post, or page.
This is a free tool that can be easily used with both secondary and elementary school  students.  

Adobe Spark has a browser-based version and is also available as an iOS app

Interested in Adobe Spark's beta Google Play/Android app?  Register in order to use this soon-to-released version at their site.

Students can use virtually any device to create in Adobe Spark.  And it ALSO is free!

Just like the website Bulb, students can use Adobe Spark to create dynamic, polished webpages.

There are many things I like about creating pages with Adobe Spark.  First, you can choose from their theme library in order to create different looks for your page (colors, font types, etc).

Secondly, you have great options for inserting images.  Students can use their photo tool to include a photo grid - which is basically a nice picture collage of images.

You can also create a glideshow for your page background.  LOVE this!  If you include a glideshow, you will need to upload multiple images.  The resulting scrolling images give a unique panoramic look to your page.

Adobe Spark has a very clean, simple to use tool when creating content on a page.  Students just simply choose from text, photo, and video options.

Though it is very simple, the pages created using Adobe Spark do not appear to be simple or rudimentary.  They're modern and beautiful!

You check out a sample (fictitious) student portfolio page I created using Adobe Spark below: 

If you would like to use Adobe Spark in order to implement digital portfolios with your students, I recently created a resource for student digital portfolio pages that is featured in my teacherspayteachers store.

The resource is titled "What's Your Story?" and aligns with the theme of allowing student voice and providing an outlet for creative expression.

What's Your Story?  Autobiographical Project

These top two technology tools are amazing resources for any teacher and students to use for their digital portfolio platforms.

Make sure to check them both out!

Friday, June 23, 2017


It's hard to believe that 3 years have passed since I first started this blog.  I have missed blogging so much!  I'm ready to return to my roots, blog, and continue with my passion for implementing educational technology in the classroom!

So much has changed in the last few years!  The biggest change has happened professionally!  I was offered my dream job - Instructional Technology Specialist!  I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with teachers and their classes in implementing instructional technology!

I am also the 1:1 coordinator at my school!  Last year, we implemented 1:1 Chromebooks with all of our (approximately) 2400 high school students!  It was a daunting endeavor, but in the end, the process was incredibly smooth!

I will be hosting a session titled 1:1 Win:  Tips for Transitioning to Personalized Learning with 1:1 Chromebooks at  my school district's Upstate Technology Conference!

I hope that I can prepare other teacher leaders, instructional technology coaches, and school administrators with some solid tips that will help ensure their transition will be a success!

I am ecstatic about hearing and hopefully meeting this year's featured conference speakers!

Monica Burns will be in the house! 

From her bio:

Dr. Monica Burns is a curriculum and educational technology consultant, Apple Distinguished Educator, and founder of As a classroom teacher, Monica used one-to-one technology to create engaging, standards-based lessons for students. Today she spends her time visiting schools across the country and working with PreK-20 teachers to make technology integration exciting and accessible. She also provides support to organizations using technology to reach children and families in need. Her mission is to help educators place tasks before apps and promote deeper learning with technology.

Richard Byrne will be in the house!

From his bio:

Richard Byrne is a former high school social studies teacher who is best known for reaching more than 100,000 educators with his award-winning blog, Free Technology for Teachers and two additional blogs, and

As a highly sought-after educational speaker, Richard’s work is focused on sharing free resources that educators can use to enhance their students’ learning experiences. He has received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to the field of educational technology including being a five-time winner of the Edublogs Award for Best Resource Sharing Blog, Google Teacher certification, and the Merlot Classics award from California State University. Tech & Learning magazine recently named Richard one of the top current leaders who has been instrumental in the creation and advancement of the use of technology in education.

Why is this so exciting to me?

I love Richard's blog Free Technology for Teachers and started following his blog years ago and always learn amazing ideas about recommended sites, apps, and extensions.  He keeps me in the loop!.

I am also a recent follower of Monica's excellent Class Tech Tips Newsletter. When I first heard Monica was a featured speaker, it took me a few minutes to realize this was the very same awesome Monica Burns who pinned amazing posts to my collaborate Educational Technology Pinterest Board.

Thanks to Monica's amazing Class Tech Tips, I found the perfect tool for my teachers to use with their students while creating their senior digital portfolio.  She wrote about the Bulb app or site, and I knew I had to check it out!  I am always looking for great tools that work well with student portfolios.  Using Bulb, I created a sample student portfolio for their senior students to use.  I will include a review of this amazing app and our example of a digital portfolio using Bulb soon!

I will also be posting more about the Upstate Technology Conference in July!  Stay tuned!

Digital Portfolio Tools for Education

As a former high school English teacher, then Library Media Specialist, and now Instructional Technology Specialist, I am always on the look...

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