Santiago Charter Middle School Students Go Digital to Showcase Their Learning

June 22, 2016

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Student-led conferences may be a growing end-of-year norm for students, but eighth graders at Santiago Charter Middle School stepped it up a notch and added a technology component. Throughout the year, students created a digital portfolio, featuring videos, photos, work samples, research, and goals. The students presented the projects to their parents, who then gave their child a handwritten note of the experience from the parent's point of view.

"For the past 21 years, as Orange County's very first charter school, Santiago has been innovative in the way we educate our students," said Jim D'Agostino, Santiago Charter Middle School Principal/Executive Director. "We are the first middle school in the area that I am aware of have students build a digital portfolio on their self-created webpage, which not only allows them to share their work with their parents and family, but to also keep a record of their accomplishments for years to come."

The portfolios were done throughout PRIMEtime (Pleasure Reading Is My Escape), which is equivalent to most school's homeroom. Both students and parents have really enjoyed the opportunity to review the learning that has taken place over the year, and to reflect on the learning process. Santiago Charter Middle School has always looked for new ways of engaging students and embracing technology and implemented a brand new STEM lab this school year, as well as incorporated computer coding into the science curriculum. The school has more than 400 devices on campus for student use, which came in handy for the 484 eighth graders working on their portfolios.

Santiago eighth grade student Andrew Tierney said, "I decided to attend Santiago because of all great opportunities that the school offers, such as their elective wheel, which has woodshop, public speaking, and computer design. I also really love the STRIVE program, where students can earn rewards each trimester for maintaining good grades and strong character."

Speaking about the student-led conferences, Tierney added, "I really liked that I had a chance to show my parents some of the projects that I worked on through the school year and save those projects on my very own webpage. I am proud of my choice to attend Santiago as I have had a great experience, made some awesome friends, had some great teachers, and because I feel that I will be well prepared for high school."

Santiago Middle School's mission is to assist our students to attain an educational advantage by delivering a quality and disciplined public school education of unmatched value.