I have been doing a poetry portfolio for years. Each year students produce a collection of original works as part of a unit where we learn about verse. Students are encouraged to express themselves while they create this collection and include original artwork, photography and other artifacts. When they are completed these collections have traditionally been something to behold and something that students could take with them. This year I really wanted to move the project into the digital realm for a couple of reasons: 1. I thought that more kids, including the ones who are not traditionally engaged in this exercise might get interested, 2. the digital portfolio is quite a bit more portable than the paper version, given that students only need to share a URL. So the first step in the process for me was to find the proper medium, and I had a few requirements.
- I wanted the collection to look and behave like a book, meaning that students would be able to virtually ‘flip’ through the collection.
- I wanted the collections to have a URL that was simple so that students could easily share it.
- I wanted the technology to be web-based, so that it was platform neutral and easy to use with any computer.
After considering many options and consulting with my PLN I settled upon Carbonmade, mainly because it met those requirements above but also because of their quirky design aesthetic. I looked at some of the exemplars that were posted on the website and thought they looked great, also the folks at Carbonmade were also quite receptive to the project when I tweeted about it so I was sold.
The only issue I had with the project is that I was asking the website to do something it wasn’t intended to do. Carbonmade’s primary cliental are artists and photographers, so at the moment the site is only equipped to handle picture files. The process of converting words to pictures is a somewhat complicated one, even for some digital natives but there are a number of different ways to do it. Here are some of the methods we used.
- If you are using a word processor on a Mac you can print to .pdf, then open the .pdf with Preview and save as a .jpeg.
- You can use Notebook from Smarttech on any platform, then file/export/image files.
- If you are using Windows you can use MS Publisher and save as .jpeg.
- You can use OpenOffice Draw on any platform then file/export/jpeg
- I have also used an online tool called Zamzar with a lot of success. This website will convert nearly every file type there is.
Other than some of the hiccups students had with converting the words into images I think the project was a success. Here are some examples of student projects.
Just like any paper project, just make sure that students know what your expectations for them are by giving them a rubric and examples. If you have any questions about this project let me know.