5305 with Dr. Harapnuik was the first opportunity I had that involved COVA at any level. Up until starting here at Lamar, I had never heard of this approach to learning and teaching before. The COVA model, which stands for Choice, Ownership, and Voice through Authentic Learning (Harapnuik, 2018), sounded like uncharted territory for me. My instinct at that point was to completely freak out knowing full well that I was the type of learner that needed step by step guidance in order to ensure perfection. Being given the opportunity to choose what I wanted to focus on and how I wanted it to look was so completely different and 100% overwhelming.
Freedom to choose came with an immense amount of pressure. What if I chose wrong and had to start over? What if I was completely off the mark and ended up lost and more confused than I began with? Learning to learn and think a different way was the biggest hurdle for me from the start. From a fixed mindset to growth in a year’s time? I realized that this program was designed to help me grow in the way I needed. If I wanted to accomplish that leap from one to the other, I had to accept that change was inevitable. If I could work my brain around what I wanted it to look like I’d feel much more comfortable. A more in depth perspective of that change is explained through my Learning Philosophy.
Applying the COVA Model
I ended up choosing to implement ePortfolios in my 5th grade classroom as my innovation plan mainly because I knew I had experience using technology in my classroom and because I felt this would offer the most opportunity for my students to be immersed in the COVA learning style as well. Together we could experience having choice, ownership and voice in our learning and feel how powerful it could be.
Since implementing ePortfolios into our classroom back in August of 2021, I can say there are definitely some positives that have came from the process and not nearly as many bumps in the road as I had anticipated. Our students are absolutely thriving with utilizing their voice and choice when it comes to learning in science now. The material that is shared with me has lesson reflections that are thorough and self leading. They are able to look back at their learning and decided what is working best and what they need to adjust as we move through our units. One of the major bumps was finding the balance for creativity and work. In the beginning, I found they wanted to spend their working time making their portfolios colorful and unique and very little time was spent on the actual learning or reflecting. Adjustments were made and it seems to be running rather smoothly at the moment.
In the classroom my goal is to immerse my students COVA and CSLE and show that they can put their hands and minds on their own education. Make it meaningful and personal.
Experiencing the change and sharing the change are drastically different for me when it comes to comfort level. I found comfort in keeping my implementation project inside my classroom but knew I had to share with my colleagues and administration at some point. In the beginning, it was difficult for me to put my thoughts out there for everyone to judge. The more I worked on implementation and the research behind it, the easier it became to share. I feel more confident voicing my thoughts about influencing and leading changes alongside professional learning. As of today, we have implemented ePortfolios in both 5th grade science classrooms and one in 4th grade. My goal for this coming school year is to have implementation in all science classrooms grade 3-5. I have been tasked with providing guidance and material for our grade level teachers that teach 3-5 science and will be presenting ePortfolios in the Classroom as a professional learning opportunity this summer. Utilizing this Course Design for ePortfolios that takes a COVA approach and adjusting as I move through definitely makes this feel a tad less daunting. Giving my colleagues the opportunity to experience learning in a significant learning environment (CSLE) and modeling COVA strategies will allow them to begin to feel more comfortable with any new changes. So, my hope is to create an environment for my staff to feel that they are learning for themselves and not just learning for their job.
Harapnuik, D. (2018). COVA model. It’s about learning: Creating significant learning environments. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=6615
Harapnuik, D. (n.d.). CSLE + COVA. Retrieved from: http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=6988
Harapnuik, D., Thibodeaux, T., and Cummings, C. (2018). Choice, ownership, and voice through authentic learning. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND