How to use StoneSoup

See a sample portfolio unit.

A version of the StoneSoup collaboratory is set up on a school or district server. (If no server is available, space can be set up on the StoneSoup server). The collaboratory is given the name of the school or district and tailored to meet the learning objectives at that location. After logging-on to the server, teachers and students access personalized pages.

From the teacher’s page, a separate page can be created for each class. By entering the class page, teachers have access to the portfolios of all the students in the class.

Entering a student’s identification number from any school intranet system will retrieve the student’s portfolio. Controlling access protects student privacy and is consistent with the COPPA laws. However, as Web pages, student portfolios can be distributed at the discretion of a district, teacher or parent

Student portfolios have links to all the student’s units, with the last units listed first. Students also have the option to add, edit or delete current portfolio units.

How to create portfolio units

Note: Each school district can determine the content of the portfolio units.

As a default, portfolio units consist of four sections; explore, create, discuss, and reflect. There are four elements in the ‘explore’ and ‘create’ sections. There are three elements in the ‘discuss’ and ‘reflect’ sections, for a total of fourteen elements. There is also elements labeled ‘other’. This is provided as a way to make the unit flexible enough to evolve over time.

Students must create a title for each unit. They are encouraged to use a question for a title. A portfolio unit should not be filled in during a single class session. Rather the unit should be completed over the course of a quarter or semester.

A paper and pencil are the only technologies necessary to create portfolio units. Portfolio unit elements can be answered outside of the computer lab; in classrooms, during library visits, from home, etc.. To make the portfolio unit digital, answers are typed into the portfolio Web form.

Teachers have complete discretion over how units are assigned, created, used and assessed. They use only those unit elements that they deem meaningful. Units should have at least the title and one question completed. It is recommended that units have an answer to a question in each of the four sections; explore, create, discuss and reflect, in order to reap all the pedagogical benefits of the unit structure.

Teachers can also create portfolios units for themselves in order to store and share useful information via the collaboratory, such as resources, activities and lesson plans.