What does a StoneSoup Portfolio unit look like?

Jenny Robins (jrobins@uiuc.edu)


Background: What's the background for your unit? What did you know before you started this unit of inquiry? (and/or) Why is your question important?
The StoneSoup information structure is derived from the structure used by the Inquiry Page, a project available at: http://inquiry.uiuc.edu The Inquiry Page was created in 1996. It was first used in a professional development class for teachers. Inquiry units are used by instructors to track, record, and journal their own inquiries. See Professor Chip Bruce's slide show on Inquiry Learning at: http://www.lis.uiuc.edu/~chip/show/inquiry

K12 teachers observed that they could use a similar information structure to direct their students' learning. StoneSoup was developed for this purpose.

Readings: What have you read for this unit? Write the names of the textbooks, library books, encyclopedia articles, etc. that you used.
Listing references causes learners to think critically about their sources.

Theorists will recognize the debt StoneSoup owes to:
John Dewey
Lev Semenovich Vygotsky
Susan Loucks_Horsley
Jack Easley
Chip Bruce

Resources: What other resources did you use? Enter web sites, other units, videos, CDROMS, pictures, etc. Enter the URLs like this: http://inquiry.uiuc.edu

As with written resources, students have an opportunity to address issues related to credibility. Another benefit of this question is that it adds resources to the StoneSoup collaboratory's list of resources. Information from student units is collected and compiled to make resources accessible to other classes.

Assignments: Did you do any lab experiments, use or gather data, use a set of instructions, do an assignment, or use a tutorial?
Students describe assignments from their own perspective. This causes students to take ownership of the material. It also provides teachers with feedback about how a lesson unit is being received.


Writings: Did you write any essays, stories, poems, etc. for this unit? You can cut and paste them here, enter a hyper-link to a Web Page, or describe what you wrote.
Here's the URL back to the overview of the StoneSoup project: http://www.students.uiuc.edu/~jrobins/overvw.html

Activities: Did you create a set of instructions, a tutorial, an experiment, or an activity? If so, share it (them) here.
Instructors are not the only ones who can create tutorials. As a step to mastering a subject, students can create their own tutorials or written instructions for finding information or using a resource.

Presentations: Did you create a presentation? This could be a slide show, videos, photos, drawings, Web pages, or even a performance. You can describe it here or enter a hyper-link.
Computing technology allows learners to incorporate a variety of media in presentations. This is an ideal way for students who are visually, aurally and/or spatially oriented to display their understanding of their topics. See pictures done by Second Graders in an inquiry-based classroom: http://www.inquiry.uiuc.edu/action/bugscope/bugscope.php3

New Questions: Did you come up with any new questions? Write them here or enter a hyper-link to a new unit.
One thing kids are good at is asking questions. Inquiry learning can get bogged down in questions without answers. Here's a chance for students to show how their questions have led to new learning.


Informal: Did you talk to your family, friends, classmates or group members about this unit? Who did you talk to and what did you talk about?
When students answer the parent's perennial question, "What did you learn in school today?" they are still learning. They make the tacit information learned in the classroom explicit. They draw on new concepts and vocabulary even when they use their own words.

Experts: Did you talk to any experts? Include their phone number or e-mail address. What did you talk about?
Email can provide for non-intrusive, asynchronous conversations with experts with similar interests. Providing contact information serves two purposes. One is to add credibility to the student's unit. The other is to add an expert to the StoneSoup collaboratory's list of experts in a given subject area.

Teachers: Did you talk to teachers, coaches or librarians? Who did you talk to and what did you talk about?
Learners take possession of their knowledge through their words. Talking to others also gives them a chance to practice and rehearse what they know. Practice creates the readiness that leads to a feeling of professionalism for the learner.


Description: Write a brief summary description of your unit.
In a traditional classroom, the instructor sets goals, generates objectives, plans a curriculum, then delivers the curriculum, and finally, tests to see how well the learner has met the objectives. In contrast, in an inquiry-based unit of instruction, the instructor sets goals, but students create their own objectives. The teacher coaches learners through the investigations, creations, and discussions necessary to achieve their objectives. Finally, both the process and the products of instruction are evaluated, by both the learner and the instructor. This unit generator helps guide learners toward their objectives.

Story: Tell the story of the unit -- How did it go? What would you do differently? What worked well?
Self-assessment is an important step toward subject mastery. Student's can use this section to boast about their successes and to reflect on how they could have learned more from this unit.

Responses: What do other people think of your unit?
This is a chance for students to evaluate what other people have said about the portfolio unit. It is also a place where teachers can add their comments and assessment.

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