Those who have the guts to tell their story of learning and skill sets without caring what others think of them at a younger age will be fulfilled earlier in life. This is something I tell my students every day. As a matter of fact, I just tweeted this so I tell many people this! Last evening I had a conversation about this with my son. I asked him why he didn’t have a way to tell his story yet. He then proceeded to challenge me on who would these stories be for.
It was an excellent question. I had to think for a moment. Then it hit me. “They” is my son. He needs to keep this story to build his journey for himself. He needs to see and present his own growth. I thought about when I was in middle and high school and how I would love to have some sort of documentation of my learning and skill sets at that time.
I asked my son if he remembered the video I made of him learning how to 3D print (watch it here). He said he did. I mentioned that is a video I show every one of my students to show them how they too can document something they have learned. I asked my son if he would like to show it to his friends at school. (I knew the answer would be no and why but I had to ask.) He said NO! He went on to explain that he would feel embarrassed to show them. I get it. He’s 14 and doesn’t want to get out of his “safe” social zone with his friends. I let him know I understood.
He looked at me as to wonder why. I let him know that when someone goes for something big and shows confidence by taking a risk, it reminds some people who are afraid to do so that they are afraid to do so. The people who are reminded will go into what I call “hater mode.” I told my son when friends feel this way, they will try to make fun of you. They will hate on you and your effort. I also told my son that this is not about him. This reaction is about the friends’ lack of confidence. He seemed to get it.
I proceeded to show my son some online portfolio examples that actually showed other people's learning journeys. There was one in particular I really liked. It is from a company called Crash. A person by the name of Joey Wickham created a profile on the platform and did something I shared not only with my son, but with all my students. He had a technology section and listed a few items of technology he learned and underneath the listing of it, he put “watch me prove it” with a link. The link led people here. It is brilliant. Joey proved it out. A piece of paper with a credential stood no chance against this type of portfolio. This actually showed what he could do.
I asked my son if there is anything in his games he played in which he could show some value. He though for a minute and told me the only thing he could create on the particular car game was a license plate. I could tell he felt a little mad at himself he hasn't learned more. That was good enough for me! I let him know to start with the license plate. He shouldn’t expect to be able to design the next Tesla right away! So I challenged him to tell the story of how he created the license plate. I gave him a time frame and we will see if he can do it.
This is what we need to be teaching our students to do. They need to find creative ways through technology to tell their story of learning. We need to shift the focus from the grade being the goal to revealing your learning journey.