Tag Archives: portfolios

HyperDoc Folder Cloner Script

I’m teaching a new class this year in which students complete a lot of activities. Each activity has an associated Google document that provides scaffolding. Students need to reference these activity documents throughout the unit as well as use them as a resource for summative performance evaluations at the end of the unit. My approach this semester is to create a Canvas assignment for each activity and use the GoogleDocs external tool as the submission mechanism. This helps students in that a copy of the Google document is automatically created when they view the assignment, and they just have to click the submit button in Canvas when they finish the activity.

Throughout the semester, I’ve noticed some opportunities for improvement. From a student perspective, while it is helpful that the Google documents are automatically copied and placed in a Google Drive folder for the course, every document from every unit is in that folder. When students need to reference an activity that they have completed, they either have to find the associated Canvas assignment, open it, and then open the associated document; or, they have to browse through all the files in their Google Drive folder for the class and find the document. Modules in Canvas do help somewhat. From my perspective, students submit a ton of assignments to Canvas, at times late (which is fine), and it takes me considerable time to review them. My priority is that students are keeping up on the activities and completing them reasonably accurately such that they can serve as a reference later. I don’t need to score every activity and enter every activity score in the grade book, which is not integrated with Canvas.

For next semester, I wanted to move to more of an electronic lab notebook approach. Each student would still have all of the activity documents, but they would be organized by unit in some manner that provides context and links to each activity document. In the past, I’ve used Google Sites as lab portfolios and was planning on something similar. I would check each student’s lab notebook each weekend and follow up with students individually as needed. I sat down this morning to search for another teacher having already done this, but, surprisingly, came up empty handed. I then assumed that I could write a Google Apps Script that would duplicate a Google Site, copy associated Google documents, and update all the links. I was surprised to find that the new Google sites are not scriptable. With Google Sites no longer an option, I decided to go with a Google Drive folder containing all of the activity documents for a unit and a unit overview hyperDoc with links to all the activity documents. I have almost no experience with Apps Script but was able to piece together a script that does the following:

  • copies all files (but not subfolders) in the specified template folder into a new folder for each specified student
  • makes that student an editor for that folder
  • updates all of the links in the specified hyperDoc to link to the newly copied files; this is done by matching the text in the specified hyperDoc to the file name of the copied files

The script is embedded in a Google sheet that is used to specify this information.

Hyperdoc Folder Cloner

I believe that if you make a copy of this sheet, you will also get a copy of the script which is accessed through the Tools -> Script editor menu item.

I hope others find this helpful. If you run into issues, please let me know. I’ve only done basic testing and won’t use this for real for a couple of weeks when we start the spring semester.

Electronic Lab Portfolios Aligned to AP Physics Science Practices

[Updated 15/7/2016, 10:54 PM: added links to two student lab portfolios.]

As I mentioned briefly in my reflection of the 2014-2015 school year, this past year, students created electronic lab portfolios for AP Physics 2. In summary:

  • many students demonstrated deeper metacognition than I have ever observed
  • several students struggled and their portfolios were incomplete
  • providing feedback and scoring consumed a huge amount of my time
  • structural changes made in the spring semester helped considerably

Structure

I was inspired to have students create electronic lab portfolios based on Chris Ludwig’s work and his presentation and our discussion at NSTA last year.

Before the start of the school year, using siteMaestro, I created a Google Site for each student based on a template that I created. I made both myself and the student owner of the site and kept the site otherwise private. The template consisted of two key portions of the site: a Lab Notebook, which provides a chronologically accounting of all labs; and a Lab Portfolio, which is the best representation of the student’s performance. I shared a document with the students that explained the purpose and distinction between the Lab Notebook and Lab Portfolio.

The lab portfolios were structured around the seven AP Physics Science Practices. I wanted students to evaluate and choose their best work that demonstrated their performance of each Science Practice. I also wanted the most critical and significant labs to be included; so, some labs were required to be in the lab portfolio. In the fall semester, I required that each student publishes at least two examples of their demonstration of each of the seven Science Practices.

I wanted students to think more deeply about the labs then they had in the past, and I didn’t want the lab portfolio to just be a collection of labs. So, in addition to the necessary lab report to demonstrate a given Science Practice, students also had to write a paragraph in which they reflected on why this lab was an excellent demonstration of their performance on the specific Science Practice.

The lab portfolio comprised 40% of the coursework grade for each semester. For the fall semester, the lab portfolio was scored at the end of the semester. I provide a few formal checkpoints throughout the fall semester where students would submit their portfolio (just a link to their site) and I would provide feedback on their labs and paragraphs.

Fall Semester

Many students wrote excellent paragraphs demonstrating a deeper understanding of Science Practices than anything I had previously read. Other students really struggled to distinguish between writing a lab report and writing a paragraph that provided evidence that they had performed a given Science Practice. I did create an example of both a lab report and lab portfolio reflection paragraph based on the shared experiment in first-year physics of the Constant Velocity Buggy Paradigm Lab. However, several students needed much more support to write these reflection paragraphs.

In general, those students who submitted their site for feedback had excellent portfolios by the end of the students; those who didn’t, underestimated the effort required and ended up with incomplete or poor-quality portfolios.

What I liked:

  • The metacognition and understanding of Science Practices demonstrated by many students.
  • Students deciding in which labs they most strongly performed each Science Practice.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Several students struggled to distinguish a lab report from a paragraph providing evidence of performing a Science Practice.
  • Several students didn’t have enough support to complete a project of this magnitude and ended up with incomplete lab portfolios.
  • Providing feedback and scoring all of the lab portfolios over winter break consumed a huge amount of time.

Spring Semester

The spring semester has some different challenges and constraints:

  • We focus more on preparing for the AP exam and less on lab reports.
  • I don’t have the luxury of a two-week break to score lab portfolios at the end of the semester.

Based on these constraints and our experience during the fall semester, I made some changes for the spring semester. I selected seven required labs in the spring semester, one for each Science Practice. Each lab and reflection paragraph was due a few days after performing the lab, not at the end of the semester.

This had some advantages:

  • the portfolio was scored throughout the semester
  • students had more structure, which helped them stay current

and disadvantages:

  • no student choice in selection of labs to include in portfolio
  • no opportunity to revise a lab or reflection paragraph (the feedback could help them in labs later in the semester)

With these changes and students’ experience from the fall semester, the lab portfolios in the spring semester were largely successful. I think it is important to emphasize that both the changes and the students’ experience contributed to this success. I do not believe that the structure for the spring semester would lead to a more successful fall semester. The feedback I received from students at the end of the year was much more favorable concerning the structure in the spring semester than the structure in the fall semester.

Next Fall

I had the wonderful experience of being coached this year by Tony Borash. Tony provided guidance in many areas, one of which was making these adjustments for the spring semester and, more importantly, planning for next year. Together we were able to come up with a structure that will hopefully combine the strengths of the structure in the fall semester with the structure in the spring semester. My goals for these changes are to:

  • provide more structure for students
  • provide student choice
  • incorporate peer feedback

Here’s the plan for next fall:

  1. I choose the first lab. Students complete and submit the lab and the reflection paragraph. I provide feedback. Students make revisions and re-submit the lab and reflection paragraph. We review the best examples as a class.
  2. I choose the second lab. Students complete the lab and the reflection paragraph. Students provide peer feedback to each other. Students make revisions and submit the lab and reflection paragraph.
  3. Students choose the next lab to include in the portfolio. Students complete the lab and the reflection paragraph. Students provide peer feedback to each other. Students make revisions and submit the lab and reflection paragraph.
  4. Students choose some of the remaining labs, and I choose some of the remaining labs. Students complete the labs and reflection paragraphs. Students specify a subset of Science Practices on which they want formal feedback from me and on which they want feedback from their peers. Students make revisions and re-submit.

This past year, students included a link to their lab report in their lab portfolio and shared the lab report (as a Google Doc) with me. Next year, I will have students embed their lab report into the Google site. This will facilitate peer feedback and enable everyone to use comments within the Google site to provide feedback. I may still have students share the actual doc with me, as well as include a link, so I can provide more detailed suggestions directly within the document.

Student Examples

Conclusion

I’m pleased that my students and I are heading down this path and believe my students will gain a much deeper understanding of Science Practices as a result. While I shared this with my colleagues this past year, I also cautioned them that I didn’t have it figured out, and it wasn’t a smooth ride. I think electronic lab portfolios are an excellent way to assess student performance, and I hope that they will be used in other science courses in the future as they are a natural fit to the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. I hope that after this next year, I will have something that will provide my colleagues with a stronger framework to adapt to their classes.