How we turned around our students’ confidence and scores


Hillsboro High School is part of the Hillsboro Independent School District in Hillsboro, Texas. It is a rural district that serves over 2,000 students on five campuses; 77 percent of the student body qualifies for free/reduced lunch.

Biggest challenge:

Our school is required to enforce a series of standardized tests every year to assess a student’s achievements and knowledge learned in the grade level. When students weren’t passing these tests, their self-confidence was diminished and it affected their willingness and effort during difficult tasks. Instead of worrying about a single test score, I wanted my students to shift their focus on their day-to-day growth.


I teach English, so I started using mini-lessons for essay writing to break down skills. My goal was to change the climate and culture in my classroom to help students feel more comfortable with trying, failing, and, most importantly, improving.…Read More

4 things you should know about digital portfolios

During a recent visit to our elementary art classroom, I saw students in various stages of their personal learning projects. Some were heavily engaged in their work within the medium of their choice, such as sculpture or fiber arts. Others were capturing their work using the app Seesaw to showcase and self-assess their learning. The teacher was busy but not as we typically imagine: checking in on student progress, offering feedback on their process, and ensuring students were submitting artifacts of their work that truly represented their best efforts.

When she saw me, the school principal, she surprised me by apologizing. “Sorry for the mess. I realize it’s a little chaotic in here.”

I replied that it was not necessary to apologize. “Students have choice and voice,” I told her. “They are becoming self-directed learners because you are guiding them to assess their own work. Your kids are fortunate to be in your classroom!” She smiled with a sigh of relief and then continued with instruction.…Read More

ClassDojo introduces student-led digital portfolios

ClassDojo has launched Student Stories, an easy way for students to add photos and videos of their classwork to their own digital portfolio, and share them home. Parents will be able to follow along with their child’s learning: whether it’s a photo of a poem they wrote, a video of a science experiment, or a reflection on finally solving a tough math problem, students can easily record and share their learning with parents.

“Like everything we do, the idea for Student Stories came about from speaking with teachers and parents,” said Liam Don, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at ClassDojo. “Parents already loved seeing photos and videos from class on ‘Class Story,’ but wanted to see even more about their own child’s projects and accomplishments. And teachers wanted to give students more ownership over their work. Student Stories does both: gives students more of a voice, and involves parents in learning moments they might otherwise never know about.”

Student Stories replace boxes and binders of students’ work with digital portfolios that are shared between school and home, sparking meaningful conversations on what students are learning at school. This is a dramatically different experience to what most parents are used to – where work may only be shared a few times a year or sent home days or weeks after it was done.…Read More

How (and why) it’s time to create digital student portfolios

I always find it quite confusing when educators tell me that students in their classroom are reading at a 7th grade reading level, Edudemic reports. What does that really mean?  Does that mean that they are truly reading? When I say truly reading I mean with full comprehension. They are able to share their learning, demonstrate it in many different ways and extend that knowledge.  Too often when I hear that students are at a particular reading level the person is referring to decoding not reading.  Reading is only when true comprehension happens. I want to think I know what a 7th grade reading level is, but in actuality, I am only guessing. I am not sure this categorization does enough to prepare me to help that student grow as a learner. I have to spend a lot of time getting to know that child individually – only then, am I prepared to help him or her grow as a learner and reader. Usually it takes until October before I have enough information to be  equipped to make a difference in the life of that student…

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