Thursday, February 24, 2011

Passion, Self-Directed Learning and Total Talent Portfolios

10 Ways Technology Supports 21st Century Learners in Being Self Directed by Lisa Nielsen
New York educator and super-blogger Lisa Nielsen posted a very interesting blog post on the Technology & Learning Advisor Blog. As Lisa introduced her post, "Life in the 21st century provides a whole-new world of opportunities for self-directed, passion-driven, personalized learning." Here is a summary of her ten points. (I provided the details on one of the items, for obvious reasons!)
  1. Personal Learning Networks
  2. Tweet to Connect with Experts
  3. Skype an Expert
  4. Free Online Educational Resources
  5. Online Learning
  6. Authentic Publishing
  7. Use YouTube and iTunes to Learn Anything
  8. Passion (or talent) Profiles
  9. Develop Authentic Learning Portfolios When done write [sp] ePortfolios can be a powerful tool that not only helps remind students of all their accomplishments, but it also enables them to share these with the world.  In the 21st century, creating an ePortfolio is free and easy.  Student simply select a container (blog, wiki, website, Google site), decide how they’d like to organize it, and then post their work.  I strongly advise against using any paid for portfolio site.  It is important that students have ownership of their own work and that it can travel with them wherever they are.  When it comes to ePortfolios, Helen Barrett is the go-to person.  To learn more, visit her blog where she shares fantastic ideas.  
  10. Empower Students to Assess and Learn Themselves 
I also loved her earlier blog post: Preparing Students for Success by Helping Them Discover and Develop Their Passions where she says:
The Total Talent Portfolio focuses on student strengths and "high-end learning" behaviors. Although the teacher serves as a guide in the portfolio review process, the ultimate goal of the Total Talent Portfolio is to create autonomy in students by turning control for the management of the portfolio over to them. Students visit their portfolios often updating the selection of items to be included, maintaining and regularly updating the portfolio, and setting personal goals by making decisions about items that they would like to include in the portfolio. Teachers use the Total Talent Portfolio as a means to differentiate instruction and effectively group students. The students love having a Total Talent Portfolio because they know it’s their personal roadmap to making their dreams come true, whatever they are.

The students use their Total Talent Portfolios to help them pursue engaging activities in areas of deep personal interest. When discovering and exploring passions is the objective few teachers find their student have short attention spans. In fact quite the opposite. These students know what it’s like to be in a flow (the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.) and how to do so for real purposes.
Dr. Renzulli's article, linked from this blog post, clearly articulates "A Plan for Identifying and Developing Gifts and Talents." I love it! THAT's what a learning portfolio should be all about!

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