Monday, October 17, 2011

ePortfolios: Weekly Reading Letters

Students used Google sites to create ePortfolios this year.  It's taken about six weeks to get the teacher/student pattern of response and posting to take shape.  I imagine that we'll continue to revise and enrich the process throughout the year.

One aspect of student ePortfolios is the weekly reading letter.  Each week students write a letter to me on their ePortfolio about their weekly reading.  I offer students templates to follow.  I've researched reading letter formats a bit, and will continue to do so with colleagues in my school system and those in my PLN.

These are many of the advantages to this practice:
  • Students engage in a written conversation about their reading each week (see example below) which prompts reflection, attention to detail and teacher response.
  • As the teacher, I get to understand a child's reading interests and patterns well.  I can use that information to help a child develop his/her skill and comprehension.
  • By understanding students' reading interests and needs, I'm able to better create partnerships and small groups.
  • The letters are available for peers, teachers, friends and family members far and near to read.
  • Students can easily add images of the story to the letters.
  • As the teacher, once a pattern is set up, weekly response is accessible and easy to do by commenting under a child's letter.  Parents are also able to access the comments and student letters at their convenience.
  • Student development and growth is easy to monitor and share with colleagues since all the letters are stored in one easy-to-access place: the ePortfolio.
  • The ePortfolio venue lends itself to optimal editing and reading since it's typed.
Do your students write a weekly reading letter?  If so, what do you include?  What is your primary focus of this assignment, and how do you use student letters to develop their reading plans and lessons?  I would like to continue to develop this venue to better teach reading comprehension, response writing and fluency skills.  I look forward to your responses and ideas.

Letter Example: