The Parent’s Guide to Digital Portfolios

The Parent’s Guide to Digital Portfolios

Download the free ebook

(free websites for students to show their work)

The Parent’s Guide to Digital Portfolios

Tools for Helping Your Teenager Make and Expand Free Websites

Bonus: The Parent Section

with tips

Third Edition

Matthew J. Blazek Jeff Ream

Proud Heng Omar Vasile

Mario J. Llorente Leyva Dennis Yuzenas

Edited by Steve McCrea

“DP” = “digital portfolio”

This book is for parents. The book gives you some step-by-step instructions so you can develop your own portfolio (a free website).

The book gives examples of portfolios so that your child can copy the structure. The teenager can feel like the journey has already been taken by a trusted adult.

At the end of this book, there’s a list of more “things to add” to enhance the portfolio. You can learn about making a book, a collection of images, a blog and a video channel.

It’s tough to persuade a teenager to spend an hour to put together a collection of images. No rewards: Can you spend time doing something without receiving points?

So, parents, can you take 30 minutes to build your own free website and show how to prepare for the future?

Tips from the editor:

I want you to have the core information that I give to school counselors, so that you can understand what the opportunity is. You can see through the eyes of the school counselor what can be achieved.

You know your child better than we do. So we (teachers, school counselors and directors of schools) should ask you to help guide us and your child about how to use these tools. The four parts that are in the Parent Supplement include YouTube,


the website,

the blog and

the book. Each of these items has a place in telling the story of your child.

Let’s begin with a video and by visiting some examples of websites created by a student.

Share the info. The purpose of this book is to persuade you to click on one website and then click on four links. Here is the website:

[ 1 ] Ben Staley’s website

[ 2 ] Abel Thon’s website

[ 3 ] The website of a teacher at High Tech High

Perhaps those three sites will persuade you to tell students, “You can have a free website to show your work to colleges.”



What is a PORTFOLIO?


What do experts say about portfolios?

What should parents know about portfolios?


Why do some School Counselors care about Digital Portfolios?

3A: The Common App

3B: The Locker


Who Should Show Students How to Make and Maintain a Digital Portfolio? Teachers or other students?

4A: Top DOWN

High Tech High: Teachers use DPs and Ask Students to Make DPs.

4B: Bottom UP

The Free Website Project: A few students in a high school learn how to make free websites, then those students who their friends how to make websites and soon 50% of the school is making DPs.


How to Make a Free Website using Google Sites

5A: The “Everything” Website

Ben Staley’s website

5B: Four pages, Three Projects and an Internship

Abel Thon’s website on


Other Readings (with tips for filling the Free Website with interesting information)



Free Ebooks to help you design and develop interesting projects

Examples of projects (Proud Heng)


While You’re Reading this book…

Posters and Techniques that we use at SunEd High

BONUS: This special section shares posters that work for us


What can Parents do to support the Free Website Project?


The Parent Section


What is a PORTFOLIO?

An electronic portfolio (also known as an eportfolio, e-portfolio, digital portfolio, or online portfolio) is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the Web. Such electronic evidence may include input text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks.

Electronic portfolio — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Digital portfolios can be free websites.

You can learn more about Free Websites and how to make and maintain the website by going to:

See this free presentation on YOUTUBE

Download the slideshow at

Next, you might go to the next two links to learn more about the school that uses portfolios in San Diego, Calif.

[ 4 ] The video tour of High Tech High by Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates

Search: “bill gates oprah high tech high tour”

[ 5 ] Perhaps you would like to learn how to make a free website using Google Sites

These five links are at

Free ebook:

PARENTS: Download these ebooks and send them to your school’s guidance counselors.


What do experts say about portfolios?

What should parents know about portfolios?

Portfolios are used by artists to show potential clients examples of their style of work. Students who are applying for a job or a space in a college or university can show some of their abilities with examples of past academic work.

From an interview on a website maintained by a portfolio system called PathBrite.

What do students say about digital portfolios? Here’s a university student who realized that portfolios help with learning:

I didn’t know what an e-portfolio was when I first heard about it in class….My professor suggested to me that I develop the “about me” section of my e-portfolio because there, I would have the opportunity to write more about myself and so I did. In that first e-portfolio I wrote about Palmira (Valle), the city where I was born in Colombia, and I wrote about Medellin, where I used to spend my vacations of school….and I wrote about the cultural assimilation process I was going through.

Not only have I gained technical skills, but I’ve learned how to express myself as a serious student and a hard worker. The different sections of my e-portfolio made me realize the important things about how I see myself starting at LaGuardia, how I see myself now and in my future. My experience with e-portfolio at LaGuardia has made me see more of whom I want to be and how I can accomplish my goals.


LaGuardia College


This is a list of websites made by students at High Tech high in California.


Why do some Counselors care about Digital Portfolios?


The Common App

You can see the common app at

Some school counselors know about the space given in the Common App for an online portfolio. Some school counselors are already aware of the opportunity for students to share additional information with the readers of the Common Application.

What should PARENTS should know?

Parents should see that the online materials are appropriate. Yes, the teenager can “put anything I want to in my portfolio. It’s a free country, right?” Parents can guide teenagers with reactions.


The Locker

What is the Coalition Locker?

(here’s how the website describes the Locker)

The Locker offers a private space for students to collect and organize materials throughout their high school journey. Whether collecting thoughts on college options or storing classwork or personal writing, students can confidentially save documents that may be useful later in their college search or application.


Who Should Show students how to Make and Maintain a Digital Portfolio? Teachers or other students?

There are two ways to teach students: “top down” and “bottom up.”

Top down = “teacher the teachers and ask the teachers to teacher the students.”

Bottom up = “teach a few students, then stand back. Watch the students spread the procedure through the school.” Eventually teachers will learn how to make websites, too.



High Tech High: Teachers use DPs and Ask Students to Make DPs.

Another “top down” approach is found at San Fernando High School, north of Los Angeles, California. Here’s a typical “top-down” letter from teachers to students:

Dear San Fernando High School Students,

All students, grades 9–12, are required to complete a student portfolio. The requirements for the portfolio are on this page.

The requirements for each grade level differ. Therefore, please make sure to assess the requirements based on your grade level.

On this page, you will find the following:

· ESLRs (you will need to refer to the ESLRs to complete the Tiger Pride section)

· Portfolio Cover

· Table of Contents

· Portfolio Checklist (your Advisory teacher will need to approve each item of your portfolio)

· Portfolio Rubric

· Portfolio Artifact Reflection (you will type responses to the questions related to each assignment that you decide to include in your portfolio)

Take pride in creating your portfolio. Include your best work as you will have opportunities to share your portfolio, such as during scholarship interviews and job interviews. You will graduate from San Fernando High School with a work-product that showcases your hard work.

We want you to be successful in completing your portfolio. Therefore, get the necessary help you need to complete it — your Advisory teachers, subject matter teachers, counselors and Administration are all here to assist and guide you as you complete your student portfolio.

Compare this checklist with the simple “clean” layout by Abel Thon: Four pages, three projects and an internship.


Bottom UP

The Free Website Project:

A few students in a high school learn how to make free websites, then those students show their friends how to make websites and soon 50% of the school is making DPs.

What is the impact of a few students who each week train a few other students? Let’s imagine a graph:


How to Make a Free Website using Google Sites

Here’s the 22 minute video. Let’s go through the steps …

STEP 1: Go into your GMAIL account

STEP 2: Type “” and hit the CREATE button.

You will see this page:

STEP 3: Select “blank template”

Type the name of your free site

Tell the computer “I am not a robot”

then hit the red “CREATE” button again

STEP 4: Look at the PENCIL on the UPPER RIGHT

(near the Blue SHARE button)

The pencil is the EDIT icon.

Click on the PENCIL

STEP 5: Type words across the top of the page.

One word for each of the pages of your website

STEP 6: Select Projects

LINK: One of the PROJECTS can be the


These are the typical sub-pages of a Free Website for

showing your work: It’s a DIGITAL PORTFOLIO

STEP 7: Connect the pages

Highlight the word, click on the “CHAIN” icon

(it is the LINK) and type the name of the link

Step 8:

You can put the link on the bottom of each page, too

This will give the viewer places to visit at the end of the page

Step 9: Under SOCIAL MEDIA, consider putting your

POSITIVE photos on display.

Why not create an account that shows the POSITIVE side of you?


To add an image, click on INSERT

then click on IMAGE and find the image

Step 11: Share the link with friends

Look at the UPPER RIGHT at the BLUE BUTTON

“SHARE” — you can let your teachers VIEW or

even EDIT your web site

Type to invite a teacher to edit your site

A teacher can add some comments, such as “Spell check!”

This is an option

You could also let your parents

view and perhaps even EDIT your page.


The “Everything” Website

Ben Staley’s website

Ben’s site has pages like this. Note the style: a small image plus a description of the project.

Suggested improvements: Add a YouTube video to explain the project. The reader of the Portfolio will gain from having a short description of the project plus a summary of what the student learned from the project. A video gives the reader the chance to hear how the student presents information as well as showing how well the student writes and prepares reports.

For students who want to include “many items” to show their learning, the “everything” version shown by Ben Staley allows students to divide work by grade level.


Four pages, Three Projects and an Internship

Abel Thon’s website on

Abel’s site inspired the creation of the four questions that we use to make a “starter” website. See page 105 in this book.

These steps will show how to make a free website.


Other Readings (with tips for filling the Free Website with interesting information)

Time Magazine reported on the “new” Locker and how this student used ZeeMee

More about the “Coalition”

(the creators of The Locker)

What are a student’s privacy rights for materials stored in their Coalition locker?

Materials stored in a student Locker belong to the student and are controlled by the student. Individual files in a student Locker are only shared with individual contacts if a student chooses to share that document.

— No locker materials are accessible to colleges or to groups of individuals;

— Sharing is controlled by the student and is set up so that the student shares a file with one invited advisor at a time in the Collaboration Space.

— Advisors invited to comment on an item from a student Locker cannot invite other individuals for group collaboration. For additional information, please go to:



Free Ebooks to help you design and develop interesting projects

Some students look at Ben Staley’s website ( at High Tech High School and say, “Whoa! How did he get to do so many projects? He’s got so many things to show!”

The “free website” digital portfolio allows students to show their work…but what if students don’t have many projects that they are proud of?

Some schools teach through worksheets and it might not look interesting to show scans of completed worksheets. Students can sit with their teachers and develop a project that covers several subjects.

School counselors can recommend teachers to look at an article found by a search on “how to build a project using several subjects interdisciplinary in high school.“


Examples of platforms for building free websites

Google Sites

ZeeMee (mentioned in the article from the Time blog and the KQED article.)


Matt Blazek, a history teacher, compiled a list of over two dozen projects that can be used to mix history with math, science, and other subjects.

YouTube presentation

Free ebook

Portfolios “how to” video

Dennis Yuzenas uses National History Day in his history classes to engage students in a project that spans several months.

Dennis has several videos about “how to make a portfolio” on Youtube. His website focuses on essential skills (similar to Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills).

Dr. Helen Barrett (“Dr. EPortfolio”)

Dr. Barrett recommends three Google products:

Blogger for “reflective journal”

Sites for “presentation”

Drive for storage of documents (“digital archive”)

PLUS: for videos and photos

See a review of her website at

Her graphic description of digital storytelling makes it clear that ePortfolios should include stories. <<< get the diagram

Project “how to” video

Enrique Gonzalez

Get the free ebook by Enrique Gonzalez, which explains step by step how to introduce and guide students in creating their Personal History Book.

Projects in Middle School

Omar Vasile

Omar’s special area of focus is preparing middle schoolers for the “presentation” in high school. Segments of a group presentation allow individuals to practice describing one part of the typical presentation. In the video, you can see team members taking turns in the stages of the presentation. By 10th grade, the student will be able to carry the entire presentation. The segments that each student practices in Omar’s classes are eventually knit together into a full presentation given by each student. Make posters!

In case a student does not want to learn how to use Google Sites:

The Counseling Geek (Jeff Ream) has a video ( on YouTube that uses a powerpoint to make a digital portfolio. This might be an alternative to using Google Sites if a student prefers the Powerpoint format.

Here’s a slideshare by Jeff:

The article appears on Jeff’s blog at

I found it with the search “powerpoint jeff ream geek counseling.”

Look at Minute 2 of the video. You’ll see how he designed the structure of his DP.


Here are some notes from Jeff’s blog:

Make this portfolio represent your personality. Things to avoid are: fonts that are difficult to read, unflattering photos, and colors that do not go together. Also, use a site like stock.xchng to find free, high-quality stock images to use as a background (and other images) for your portfolio.

Here are some advantages of the Jeff Ream method of “Designing a DP with Powerpoint”:

Many students already know how to use PowerPoint.

The PowerPoint features are often more colorful and flexible than the Google Sites options.

You can carry the PowerPoint on a flash drive.

The design that you create using PowerPoint can be transferred to Google Sites.

You can learn more if you go to his Facebook page at and his blog at Jeff recommends that counselors should be called “school counselors,” since the word “guidance” can have a negative shade of meaning.

Google Sites at American University of Cairo

Using Google Sites for digital portfolios (or e-portfolios) has been encouraged by professors at universities, too. Here’s an example from 2012.

Note: The format and options in Google Sites have changed since this video was posted. This video is useful because the instructor shows how to share and limit who has access to the site. See the steps shown in minute 5 of the video.

A recommended procedure for schools:

High Tech High School posted a list of links to websites made and maintained by its students (up to August 2016).

Is it a good idea to put

the first names of students on the school website?

That was a “recommended best practice” of

High Tech High School in San Diego.

Here’s the redesign:

After August 2016, the only list that the schools show is their staff DPs.


SunEd High in Florida assigns numbers to the websites that students create. This gives an added layer of privacy so that the student’s site is less likely to be found through a name search.

When the students are ready to share their work, they can rename the site’s name. The list of websites made by students can be found here:

This is the spreadsheet of some of the student portfolios available at SunEd High

This page shows some schools

Sites made by students in a Florida school

This site shows a page with a list of sites created by students at the school.

SunEd High in Florida assigns numbers to the websites that students create. This gives an added layer of privacy so that the student’s site is less likely to be found through a name search.

When the students are ready to share their work, they can rename the site’s name.

Here’s a sample of one of the SunEd High portfolios:

Hi, my name is DeMonn Sands.

I dream about playing in a marine band

I play the Tenor Saxophone and other various instruments live. including but not limited to, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, piano, drum set, vocal training.

You might be wondering…

“Do you have any examples of work by students that has made a difference?”


I’m certain that the blog post written by Proud Heng helped get her into a university in California.

Why not read her post from her blog called “void of musing”?

Void of Musings

Go to the original blog

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Redefining “Smart”

Foreword: I wrote this blog post as I was motivated by the work of a teacher in Florida, Steve McCrea. His blog is at He inspired me to write something about the rights and wrongs of education, and being the randomly motivated student I am, I wrote what was below at 3 in the morning. I assumed that Steve would read it and nod and smile and that was that; maybe he’d even feature it on his blog. What ended up happening was that the very same day, he gave what I wrote for his students to read. I was astounded that my work would go that far and from that I felt all warm and fuzzy. :) So thank you, Steve, for sharing this with your students. It makes me glad that I can make even a smidgen of a difference outside of my local community. I feel that if I can keep this blog up, it’s going to be the beginning of changing peoples’ lives. Yes, I am quite the optimist.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I must admit: I am not smart.

For some reason, I’ve gained the odd reputation of being smart, which is not at all true. Before you strike me down as being modest, I ask that you hear my side first.

What others mean when they are labeling me as “smart” is “academically successful.” Meaning, I do well in class and have relatively high grades.

Sure, this can mean that I am a diligent worker or a natural at every subject. But with this version of “smart,” I could be a master of memorization and information regurgitation while not understanding the meaning behind concepts. I could cheat and copy answers without getting caught, and I could abuse drugs to boost my mental performance. All of these things would lead to me giving the right answers, doing well in class, and having relatively high grades. Therefore, if I do these things and get these results, I am smart.

Clearly this is the wrong mentality to have as a student — that to be smart, you have to be academically successful. You have to get the right results. This could (and has) led to students resorting to the things I previously mentioned, or giving up altogether if they can’t tell you the answers.

Yet, the student is not mainly at fault. It is us as a society who is the culprit. The business world has ingrained a sense of result-based reward and punishment into our lives. This makes sense in their environment, when everybody has already learned how to work the tools needed.

But does it make sense for us to expect success at the start? If we give young children fishing rods, show a seasoned fisherman reeling in fish by the bucket load, and help the children learn how to hold the fishing rod, do you expect them to catch half a bucket on the first try? the second? the sixteenth? Some of them will get it on the first try. It will take a week, a month, a lifetime for others to catch half a bucket of fish. And some will simply give up after not catching any fish at all. Are the ones who caught the first fish smart? What about the ones who didn’t catch any at all?

We need to redefine what it means to be “smart.” A famous quote from Albert Einstein reads, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” We are judging our students on how well they climb trees, when some are birds, others are monkeys, others are fish.

Note: apparently the quote did not come from Einstein. See this link

Why am I not smart, then?

Pull me aside and ask me how to find the lateral area of a cone. Ask me why Shay’s Rebellion happened, how to balance an oxidation equation, how lightning is formed, the stages of cell replication. I know that I have learned all of that, but I couldn’t give you answers. I do not remember the answers.

I do know, however, how to get to the answer. If I could get the surface area of the cone and subtract the area of the base, I might get the lateral area. If I could get a summary of what happened during Shay’s Rebellion, I would be able to explain the causes behind it. You get the point.

It isn’t efficient to do this though; it’s basically reinventing the wheel over and over. I am bad at memorization (except strangely with foreign language), so even if I have all the tools I need to work, the ones I need disappear regardless of how strongly I fortify my toolbox. I have been taught the values of cosine and sine on a unit circle since 8th grade, but I still cannot remember them off the top of my head. I only remember how to get there: find the quadrant, see if the value is short, long, or in the middle. And at times I don’t remember which value is higher, ½ or √3/2. What I’ve done is practiced how to get there, so I can find the answers quickly enough to catch up to the others who have memorized it.

In the end, the others are “smarter.” They will do better at their jobs. They will be faster in their calculations, decisions, everything. And they deserve to have higher positions because they do their work well, and do it quickly.

But to me, it is more important to quickly be able to find the answer than to quickly memorize it. Past school, rarely will you have people sitting down and guiding you on how to do things. It is not because they don’t care (that could also be the case, but I digress), but because they won’t know how. Someday we will not only be teachers for others, but for ourselves. At that time there will be nothing to memorize, because it hasn’t been found yet. You yourself have to get there.

And in getting there, you’ll make mistakes. You won’t get the right answer. In doing so, you can’t just stop and quit. You can’t gloss over them and pretend they don’t exist. You have to fix them to move forward; you have to adapt yourself to not make that mistake again.

It is realizing this and learning how to adapt, I feel, which makes people smart: Being able to get the answers on your own and being mature enough to accept and fix the mistakes made. From these, you can face any problem. Nobody is born smart or is naturally smart; they may be more receptive to learning certain skills, but that doesn’t mean they are just magically smart. We all have to learn how to make ourselves smart. The best time to do that is while we receive education, before we enter the business world. At work, if you haven’t learned how to learn, it’s generally too late to deal with the copious mistakes that come with it — it will cost you tenfold in time, money, and other resources than what it would have in school.

As students, yes, we do need to memorize the basics: the tools in the toolbox and their purpose. But we shouldn’t rely on the memory of the details of every single procedure where the tool could be used; what if you approach a new type of door you’ve never learned how to fix? The goal is to be able to figure out how to fix any door, not to continually have to update yourself with the procedures on how to fix the latest door. Be able to find patterns, understand concepts, question; be your own teacher.

And as teachers, we must teach how to learn. I use the word “teacher” in a loose fashion, not as one who is professionally employed to teach, but one who is capable of teaching. Your lesson could be about how to solve an equation for x. Challenge yourself to teach another subliminal real-life lesson alongside this. Make taking notes optional for the lesson, and teach your student(s) that taking notes is solely for their benefit after they return to you struggling with practice problems. Teach that they cannot rely on the stick and the carrot all their lives for motivation; they must motivate themselves to do work, to do what is morally right, to help others. Teach the birds that although the monkeys are better at climbing the trees, because the point is to get to the top of the tree, they can fly up. Teach the fish that swimming across the lake is just as monumental as getting to the top of the tree, but if they wanted to touch the top of a tree, they need to get a beaver to cut a tree to fall into the water. You will never run out of things to teach.

As students (used with an equally loose definition), we must find these “hidden” lessons as well. Do not come to school only for the academic material. Come to school to learn, to grow, to mature and adapt.

I myself am still learning how to do that.

— Proud Heng


Here’s what Proud wrote to me about the Free Website Project:

How to reach your teenager

Here’s an article that is designed for you to show your child and to submit to local newspapers.

A Free Website Could Get Your Teen into a Better College

You know that your child is more than a Grade Point Average and a score on the SAT or ACT. What does “3.5 GPA” or “24 ACT” say about your child’s curiosity or enthusiasm or ability to communicate? What if people could see the best work of your child? What if your school’s website had links to the work of its students?

California is ahead of us

Students at High Tech High in San Diego, California put their book reports and essays on the web. Anybody can see the school work that earned the students a “B” or an “A.” Would you like your children to show their best work on a website?

Fig. 1: The High Tech High website lists its students by first name.

Tony Wagner of Harvard University says that the cheapest way for schools to help students is: Set up digital portfolios. Wagner says, “The world doesn’t care about your test scores. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.” Portfolios show what you have done.

A counselor in Michigan writes in a blog: I could see high school students creating digital portfolios throughout high school and then finishing with a cumulative assessment at the end of their senior year. These are sometimes referred to as a Senior Capstone e-Portfolio. By providing students with a way to showcase work they will have a clearer vision as a learner, find pride in their work, and share with possible colleges or employers. (C. M. Lindberg).

Fig. 2: A student at High Tech High shows his portfolio of academic work.

Free Website Project

I’ve been using the Internet for the past two years at SunEd High School in Margate, Florida, to showcase the academic work of some of my students. I have placed short videos of my students explaining their projects. Some students have published short books using Createspace to sell on Amazon. When I heard about the “Digital Portfolios” of High Tech High, it clicked for me. “Now the videos, essays and photos can be in one place — on a free website.”

Four key principles

  1. The students keep “their observations” on a separate blog. Experiments with humor and satire are placed on independent blogs. Famous authors sometimes use second names. Pseudonyms (pen names) are suggested.
  1. Students control the content of their websites.
  2. The School chooses whether or not to link the student’s site to the “List of Websites Made by Our Students” that is hosted on the School website.
  3. Students put POSITIVE INFORMATION on their portfolio that shows work that the students created for school.

Instagram and Facebook? Sure!

I tell my students, “You have spent hours collecting photos and writing about things that interest you. Colleges and universities will want to see that information.” The free website can collect the essays and photos that show the spirit of your child. If your child keeps only positive images on his social media, then you might have a way to distinguish your child from dozens of other applicants.

Here’s what parents can say to guide their teenagers: “Instagram is a digital portfolio of images that are important to you. Your instagram account and the photos on your Facebook like list’ tell others that you believe that these images are important.”

Share your experiences

Students can post “how to” videos on a YouTube channel to show how they can serve. Try an “expedition” on Google’s Cultural Institute. Give a tour of their volunteer work (at an animal rescue center).

Fig. 3: A brief introduction of each project will tell the viewer about your interests and why this project was meaningful.

Free Video

Get started: Go into your Gmail account, then go to For more information about the Free Website Project and how you and your child can get the free training, call (954) 646 8246 and find out where the next free workshop will happen near you. A free video is available at

Add projects with these free ebooks

[1] Look at other digital portfolios to get ideas. Here are links to websites at High Tech High School:

[2] Free Ebooks: When you start building a digital portfolio, you might want to add some projects. To find interesting projects, look at Matt Blazek’s free ebook Free Ebook video about projects

[3] Show Your Work: I have learned the High Tech High school method of building DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS using Google Sites. I recommend this system for engaging the attention of students. They can build free websites and attract attention to subjects that matter to them.

Make learning fun and engage the curiosity of students. “Make the work authentic” — Jeff Robin, High Tech High Letter to Directors of schools about “digital portfolios” Facebook: links to free ebooks A blog post from a school in New Jersey Personal History WORKBOOK

[4] Blogs updates about the next workshop.

A School Counselor’s view:

See the Tony Wagner interview:

TOOLS for turning quotes into posters. Search for Wagner’s “Seven Survival Skills”

See the digital portfolios of teachers at High Tech High

Steve McCrea is coordinating 300 student websites at SunEd High School. He invites questions at

(954) 646 8246 or •


While We’ve Got Your Attention…

Posters and Techniques that we use at SunEd High

Do your walls speak?

Since this book is created for counselors, and since the Createspace website allows books with 100 pages to be printed at the same cost as books with 72 pages, we thought it would be helpful to fill in the empty space and show some of the posters that the counselors and career lab teachers use in their offices at SunEd High.

Tips for Parents: How to use quotes

You can choose a part of your home where you can set up a type of classroom. Perhaps it’s in the kitchen or in your dining area. Where does your family eat together? You could put a “quote of the day.”

Here is a technique developed by Mario Llorente (from a book Let’s Lecture Less).

Quotations are effective ways of engaging the mind with “scaffolding” (support). By asking the student to focus on someone else’s excellent thoughts, we assure the student 
that it is time well spent. The student will receive the reward from that effort and might turn to look at another quote.

Exercise 1
The teacher has ten quotes and ten interpretations. The teacher asks a student to read the quote and then asks students to work in pairs and small groups to figure out what the quote means. 
Procedure: A student reads a quote and asks, “What does this mean?” The students then discuss in pairs and small groups. The teacher can model an example, if necessary.

Exercise 2
The teacher has ten quotes and eight interpretations. The students try to match the interpretations with the quotes. The students work in pairs and small groups. 
Procedure: A student reads a quote and asks, “Who has the interpretation of this quote?” Another student answers, “I have it.” Then the group listens to the interpretation 
and decides if the match is correct.

Exercise 3
Now the students have to find the quotes in a list or book that the teacher provides. 
Procedure: Each student then builds an interpretation of the quote, writes the interpretation, and the interpretations are shuffled and distributed. The group then tries to match the student-written interpretations to the selected quotes. is a useful source of quotations.

The quotes in the left column are jumbled. Match the quotes on the left with the interpretation on the right. Answers on the last page of the book.


A child’s interpretation

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

Charles R. Swindoll (1)

The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.

Denis Waitley (2)

B. Someday people will look inside people instead of judging them from the outside.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (3)

C. It’s good to give freedom and it’s good to have responsibilities.

D. Each day is an opportunity to add memories.


Exercise 4
In the highest level of the game, the students WRITE their own quotes. They make up something that they have never seen written in that particular way. (This stage is fairly 
advanced and is suited for older students.) 
Procedure: Each student also generates the interpretation, as in Exercise 3, and the quote and interpretation are separated, shuffled and distributed to the teams as in previous 

This activity is described on Youtube at “Mario Llorente quotes “

Mario: The activity itself is less important than what happens later. A student who has heard an important quote, which is a highly distilled idea, will probably think about that 
idea later that day or when the quote is seen on a wall. The definition and interpretation of that quote will resonate in the student. Four or five days later, you’ll say, “Do you 
want to play the game of quotes?” and they’ll say, “Yeah!”


What can Parents do to support the Free Website Project?

Let’s begin. The journey from here to there has many roads. You might use some of these tools before your child sees them. You can pull together pieces of your portfolio. There are many examples of adults using digital portfolios.

The DP is more than a resume. It’s a resume with video and examples of your work. The Digital Portfolio is an ongoing tool for promoting ourselves, the brand that is “you.” The digital portfolio is one way of showing that special side of you.

If you start using a DP, maybe your teen will start seeing value in making a DP.

Here’s how to spread the word about the Free Website Project: School counselors can keep a copy of this book on their desks.

Or just post this small sign on a wall:

Get the free ebook

“The Guide to a Free Website”

Parents: You can point out to counselors that a free website can begin with a one-page form. Counselors can request the business cards with the four questions on one side. Send your request for the cards with a mailing address.

TELL THE COUNSELOR: “You can also ask for an over-the-phone or face-to-face tutorial for five or ten of your students, with the hope that those students will show their classmates how to make a free website.”

See for the steps and resources about making a free website.

The four questions

Let’s make your website.

Answer four questions. Send to

page 1: Welcome to my website.

(Select a photo that is important to you. Write something about the photo that you have selected. Question 1: Why is this photo important for you?)

page 2: About my family’s history

(Question 2: Where are you from? describe your family, your background, where were your parents born? Where were you born and what important events did you have seen?)

Page 3: My plans for my future

(Question 3: What do you want to do in the future?)

Page 4: My work (books, essays, projects, videos about things that interest me)

(Question 4: What do you want to show us? Why are you showing us these things?)

You can add more information on the back of this page.

Stephan McCrea, Free Website Project,

Box 8951, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310 (954) 646 8246

How to handle hundreds of requests for help

Some counselors wonder, “Is the Free Website Project ready to handle hundreds of requests for help from my school’s students?”

Yes. Volunteers (students and teachers) are ready to assist.

Step 1: Request

The request is emailed or texted to Steve

Step 2: Reply

Steve replies with a RESPONSE TICKET giving time of the day and date: 14:25 2016–09–01 (year/month/day)

Step 3: Send to advisor

Steve sends the request to a student advisor

And a copy to his email (set up especially for the website project)

Step 4: Follow up by Steve

Steve contacts the student advisor after 48 hours

All steps are tracked

Example of the Sheet to followup requests




Sent to advisor

Follow up

Jane Johnson

14:15 2016.09.01


J. Noel

954 646 2334


With the help of School Counselors who want their students to have free websites, I can arrange for training. Ask some of your students to contact me and I’ll get them training in the procedure. Then those students can train other students in setting up free websites in Weebly, Wix, Google Sites or other formats.

(954) 646 8246 text


The first goal of the Free Website Project is to build a box (the website). The next goal is to encourage students to learn about projects. Students might ask, “How will I find a project worthy of putting my time into?”

This opens the demand for “good projects.”

See the list of projects by Matt Blazek.

How can teachers teach the use of projects?

See the materials (above) by Dennis Yuzenas, Matthew Blazek, and Omar Vasile.

Workshop by Dr. Fischler

For Teachers and Principals

The Free Website Project is inspired by the work of Dr. Fischler. See and Focus on his “time is a variable” theme and “The Student is the class.”

“Children learn at different rates and have different preferential learning styles.” Time must be the variable and mastery the goal.

If students do not fully understand algebra, they will have a difficult time learning trigonometry. If they have not mastered reading, they will have a difficult time comprehending high school science textbooks or the New York Times. The consequences of not making this change leads to an increase in dropouts and eventually to an increase in the poverty-level class.

Time is a variable: we must provide each student with the time and means to succeed.

Rather than punish the student who learns more slowly than the arbitrarily chosen period, we must treat each student as the class.

We must find a way of doing this.

Dr. Fischler

Download his free ebook of commentaries

Get this free ebook here

Share the info.


The Parent Section includes



the website,

the blog and

the book. Each of these items has a place in telling the story of your child.

Johnny Soto shows his poster about the value of

rap music (SunEd High, November 2014)


You can use Vimeo or other websites that display videos… but Google owns YouTube, so a Google search will often put the YouTube videos on the first page.

Your teenager can create a YouTube channel for displaying videos. It’s free!

Click on the bottom of the screen “create a new channel.”

Click on “create a channel

After I added a photo from the gallery, the site is ready for putting up videos.


You can keep a collection of photos on Facebook or other social media. Instagram is popular among many of my high school students, so I have focused on Instagram for this section (the “collection of photos”).

Think about the typical college admissions officer. Hundreds of applications to look through. There are three places left to fill for the next class at the university. The deadline is tomorrow. The director of admissions says, “Fred, bring me six applications. We’re going to select three.”


Melanie, one of my high school students, has this photo in her Instagram account. It shows her knack for observing and capturing something unusual. Do you want this person on your college campus? I do.

Fred the admissions officer has 30 seconds to come up with six candidates. “BING!” comes the little voice in his head. “I remember that kid who sent in a link to his Instagram account showing why he likes volunteering at the hospital. He wants to join our health services program.”

That’s what the Instagram section is about. What is your child focused on? What captures your teenager’s attention?

Fred the admissions officer asks himself, “Will our college be embarrassed by this kid’s choices? Do we want this kid to join us? I want this kid on my campus because he looks for interesting things.”

The Blog:

There are several free platforms for making a blog. The key reason for a blog is to capture the teenager’s interests. A college admission officer can read a student’s journey in volunteering from one internship to another… and the blog can capture the teenager’s emerging passions.

The Book

There are several ways to get a book created. Yes, you can have your name on a book. “Stories that my grandmother told me” is the topic that I suggest to my high school students. Davonta Cummings, one of my high school students, asked me, “Are you saying that I can interview my grandmother and you’ll help me make a book out of those interviews?” Yes, Davonta, that’s exactly the idea.

This idea is used at High Tech High School. Look at the pages of projects. Blurb and Lulu are systems that students use to convert word documents into books.

You can learn about Lulu at

Here’s a Facebook ad for Blurb

At SunEd High, we use Createspace. Type the following search: “Kenide Blanc life is”

You will be directed to this long link

What happened? How did you get a book for a student? My student gave me her journals. I typed in four essays and created a PDF (portable format) and uploaded the PDF to Createspace. In three days, the book was approved for printing and we ordered one copy. It appeared on Amazon within a week and in three weeks, the book arrived. Total cost: $4 ($2.25 to print the book and $1.75 for shipping).

You can contact the author, Kenide, by email and ask her about this adventure. She wants to make a second edition and expand the writing.

Look at the features available: Kenide can turn off this listing and upload an improved version in its place by creating a new book with a new ISBN number (the International Standard Book Number is used to identify the unique interior of each book so any changes require the author to create a new edition).

The document is saved on Google Drive, so whenever we want to create a new edition, we make a copy of the ebook.

The document has a link so that Kenide can share the ebook with anybody. That link can also be placed on Kenide’s free website (her digital portfolio).

You can also find this book by searching “createspace kenide blanc”


Go to You can get a free account. You can upload a word document or a PDF and get a book placed on Amazon.

If you want additional help, one of the volunteers at Free Website Project is available to guide you … after you have invested the time to create a title for your book, brought together photos to make the story more interesting, and you’ve taken the time to proofread and check the spelling of the text. Yes, creating a book is another service of the Free Website Project. Let’s bring to readers the stories told by your relatives.

Topics of interest

Did your relative see something happen? Were they a “witness to history”? For example, I know someone who saw Hitler shake hands with Mussolini in Germany in 1938. That story is captured in a book. Search “jack rich amazon.”

These are the required prices set in CreateSpace.

Note the amount that is made from selling this book through “expanded distribution.”

The book earns $1 from sales in Amazon.

Through book stores, the book earns less than five cents.

The point of this page is to show the reader that this work is an attempt to get the information to the public at a low cost.

The Website

You have read through this book and learned how to build a free website. The key is to make it easy to find the website and to organize the items (blog, videos, photo collection of photos, academic work, the book, and resume). If you want feedback, the volunteers in the Free Website Project can offer you the help you need.

You can see the example of my portfolio for 2016. It shows some of the projects that I’m working on. You can find the site easily by going to

Six Principles of the Free Website Project

1. Every student gets a free website built on Google Sites (using their gmail accounts).

2. Students put their best academic work on display.

3. Students can choose to put the site “open to the public” (and allow college admission officers to see their work) or “share with teachers and parents only.”

4. The Common App (application form used by over 600 universities for college entrance) has a line called “please enter the link to your online portfolio.” That’s where this free website becomes useful.

5. The student’s resume can be shown on the Free Website (as part of the student’s career development efforts).

6. At SunEd High school, we ask students to learn to use Google Drive and Google Docs, so that students can submit materials to teachers online (we have saved LOTS of paper). The material on Google Drive is available for displaying on the “digital portfolio” (free website).

PARENTS: You can put this list in front of your teenager’s school counselor.

Join the Free Website Project.

See some of the sites that Sun Ed students (and others) have started.

You can download this ebook at


The Free Website Project’s display next to SunEd High School’s promotional table.

Parents: Call to schedule a free workshop in your teenager’s school:

(954) 646 8246