Brightspace Portfolio: Technology, Pedagogical Documentation and Student Voice!

Area(s) of Focus: kindergarten
Division(s): Primary
Level(s): Kindergarten, Grade 1

This project explored the Brightspace Portfolio by D2L as a tool for educators and students to use for pedagogical documentation and to support collaboration amongst all educators, students and families.

  • Explore Brightspace Portfolio by D2L as a tool pedagogical documentation
  • Brightspace is a newly approved tool at the Wellington Catholic District School Board which is used to collect and share data
  • Increase collaboration between teacher, RECE, specialist planning teacher and IT co-ordinator to improve best practices such as how assessment drives instruction, communication amongst all educators and integrating technology in the classroom
  • With an increased confidence in using this tool, we will create videos and host open house sharing sessions to assist other educators in our board with the use of this tool

Team Members

  • Kathryn Smyth

    Wellington Catholic District School Board

  • Christina Mueller

    Wellington Catholic District School Board

  • Sheri Silva

    Wellington Catholic District School Board

  • Jeff Cummings

    Wellington Catholic District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

  • We clearly understood most of the features and capabilities of the Brightspace Portfolio tool such as the collection, organization and sharing of data
  • We implemented the use of this tool efficiently and effectively in the classroom setting
  • We increased communication between educators that observe the children throughout the whole day (teacher, RECE and specialist planning teacher)
  • We effectively used Brightspace Portfolio to enhance conversations between educators and students to ensure our documentation is pedagogical
  • We provided training for other kindergarten and Grade 1 educators at our school site to explore the Brightspace Portfolio tool by D2L for documentation


Activities and Resources

Day 1: 

  • Prior to the Day 1 meeting, we had been exploring this tool before the project began. When we met on Day 1, we had the opportunity to receive a detailed overview and instructional base from the IT co-ordinator and had time to explore these features further.
  • We discussed the possibilities and plan of action for sharing our knowledge of the tool with other educators. We worked collaboratively with our administration, IT co-ordinator and Superintendent of Education to confirm additional funding to ensure that sharing this information with all of our kindergarten, Grade 1 and planning time specialist educators at our site, Holy Trinity, would be possible.

Day 2:

  • Reviewed criteria for inputting comments and feedback (i.e., observations, growth, next steps, student and educator reflection). Discussed the suggestions for tags to be included.
  • Discussed roadblocks to implementation – not enough iPads, QR codes, level of voice recordings
  • Discussed whether or not to provide explicit instruction/modelling for children about what to say and what to document (to internalize/understand the learning)
  • Discussed a plan to ensure we have equitable documentation on each child for each curriculum frame

Day 3:

  • Reviewed the key points of using Brightspace for documentation and prepared to present these findings with other kindergarten and Grade 1 educators

Day 4:

  • Reviewed and discussed currently collected documentation
  • Students have been independently documenting their work and this has led to numerous pieces which required approval
  • We also discussed our successes and challenges as we prepared to submit the final report

Unexpected Challenges

  • Due to a lack of possible reserved supply staff available to cover PD, we were very limited on the days that were available
  • We were faced with the challenge of the amount of documentation that was being collected by the students (prior to the official start of this project and during the project) and the time needed to review and approve the evidence
  • A lack of technology dedicated for each educator for the purpose of documentation. In particular, the planning time specialist educators do not have consistent access to technology. Technology is provided for classroom educators (such as laptops or iPads) which are often taken with the classroom teacher when they leave for their planning time, therefore the planning time specialist teacher is left with no technology to use for documentation purposes.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

  • Reflection on documentation; noticing and naming the learning and determining next steps
  • Sharing the documentation/learning with peers supports collaboration
  • Potential home connections to extend the learning and allow parents to provide feedback
  • Provides another avenue for children to demonstrate their learning and share their ideas
  • Children displayed leadership, independence, initiative and problem-solving with the implementation of this tool


  • We provided a half-day introduction to kindergarten and Grade 1 educators at our home site, Holy Trinity. We provided step-by-step instructions of how to begin using the tool including: how to print your QR codes, scan QR codes, begin collecting evidence using the three different modes that Brightspace provides, how to reflect on the documentation collected and add more detail such as growth and next steps for learning, and how to add tags such as curriculum connections. During this intro session, we also shared a short video to our followers on our school Twitter account to let others know about the learning that was happening.  
  • Shortly after the half-day introduction to Brightspace Portfolio, Year 2 kindergarten students took on a leadership role as they visited with other kindergarten classrooms to model how to use the documentation tool with peers and educators.

Full-day follow-up session:

  • The entire group met to discuss challenges and successes with tool. We reviewed pedagogical documentation as a whole group and then provided time for educators to implement/review student documentation using the tool. There was also time allotted at the end of the day to reflect on next steps and provide feedback on improvement.


  • FUTURE SHARING: Exploring the possibilities of:
    • D2L Web Conference sharing, specific to Brightspace Portfolio
    • Summer Institutes run at Wellington Catholic
    • Continued sharing based on available funding for the 2018-2019 school year

Project Evaluation

  • Overall, our project was very successful. We were able to meet most of our goals, however, as the project progressed, we adapted our goals to meet the needs of all educators. One of our goals was to attend the Connect Conference in April 2018, but this goal was not met as we felt it would more beneficial to share this learning at our home school first and expand outwards from there.
  • Through our IT co-ordinator, we were able to host a visit from ministry representatives to see how the tool was being implemented in our class
  • One notable success is the professional collaboration we have formed with contacts at D2L. Our IT co-ordinator acted as a liaison to assist with providing feedback and improvements on the tool to D2L. These suggestions were well-received and acted upon. For example, we suggested that there should be a place where teachers can record private notes that are seen only by educators and not by students and parents. We also were able to decide what tag categories should be added so educators can use these on a regular basis.
  • The success of the implementation of this tool is demonstrated by the children taking initiative to use the tool, using the tool independently, and children teaching other children and adults how to use the tool
  • Another measure of our success has been our ability to clearly articulate how to use the tool for other educators. Not only were we able to use the tool successfully ourselves, but we were able to instruct others on how to successfully use the tool.
  • During these training and sharing sessions, educators were open to collaborate and engage in conversations about the use of this tool for pedagogical documentation
  • The largest measure of our success is that this tool is being used in a number of classrooms. Therefore, children will transition to the next grade having the skills, confidence and voice needed to successfully document their work.
  • Something we would have done differently is dedicating more time to focus on the reflection of documentation either one-on-one with the children or as a group