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"With portfolios, there are no right or wrong ways. The underlying belief is that both teaching and learning can take place in a variety of ways. Each of us may approach portfolios with a personal slant, this is great! The only common thread for all of us should be an end result of meaningful learning, progress and growth for the individual students."(Stephanie Vucko, Riverside School Board)
- Houses vs. Homes
- Introducing Portfolios to Your Class - Beginning the Discussion
- A Portfolio To Do Start-up list
Ownership is a key point with portfolios, students should value and take responsibility for their individual portfolios. One way to begin this is to have the students personalise their portfolio containers. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
- Students customize their digital portfolio page with colours and fonts as well as an image that they have created or one that is meaningful to them in some way.
- In the case of a paper portfolio, students select a container (not their work binder) for their portfolio. Students can then personalise the container with their name, the year and their grade level along with decorative symbols that reflect their interests (collage, drawing, painting, computer drawing...).
What can the teacher do to facilitate this?
When portfolios are introduced and explained to the students to be a vital part of their learning, the students take responsibility. In the first few weeks teachers should consider:
- Introducing the idea of portfolios with their class (a word-web on the board or collaborative group definitions are are good way to begin to establish the purpose and content of a portfolio) in order to set the stage for the portfolio's role in learning.
- Assign the personalization of the portfolio container or allow class time. This shows that you value the portfolio and that you do not consider it to be something to do on the side.
Past experience with paper portfolios has shown that...
- manila folders tend to fall apart and papers are not secured;
- collages on the outside of a container get messy and fall off;
- collages as a cover page inside a container work very well;
- 3-ring binders are an easy way to keep portfolios organised;
- some students prefer their own style of portfolio container and manage this well (duo tangs, boxes, diskettes...).
Ask students the following questions in a discussion and brainstorm session. These questions can also be addressed one at a time, one per day.
- Do you already have a portfolio?
- Where in society do you think portfolios are be used? Why?
- What could be included in a portfolio?
- What do you think doesn't belong in a portfolio?
- What would you value in a portfolio?
- What can a portfolio look like?
You can also choose to develop word-webs on the board or on an overhead with students
Make a place for portfolios in your classroom:
- bulletin board to post information
- a place where student portfolios will live
- a place where you as a teacher will store materials you develop, books to read..
- ask for an extra container (duo tang, binder) that each student will have for their portfolio
- discuss portfolios (demonstrate previous student portfolios, artist portfolios, mutual fund portfolios, your own portfolio)
- begin to introduce portfolio vocabulary (collection, selection, reflection, goals)
- define what a portfolio will be in your class
- ask the students what they think might go in a portfolio
- have students personalize their portfolio container
Establish learning criteria for the term
- Have students set some learning goals for the term and place these in their portfolio. Goal-setting takes practice, so begin in the early grades, even if the students have trouble at first.
- If appropriate, establish as a class what submissions will be required for this term. Post these on the bulletin board and make copies on paper for students to add to their portfolio
- complete all the activities you usually do with your students and store the artifacts.
- allow for days throughout the term for the selection process to take place gradually
- establish criteria for what should be chosen for the portfolio. Ex.: One piece that shows use of new words.
- ask students to select their work and place it in their portfolio based on the criteria
- students examine their selections and reflect using prompting questions (scaffolding) that can be written on the board, stored in the digital portfolio or handed out on paper.
- students peer conference with their portfolio in order to gain feedback
- students conference with the teacher, setting goals for next term
- students lead a parent-teacher conference with their portfolio (it helps to role-play or practice this with elementary school students)
- set aside a period or two for a class portfolio sharing day at the end of the term
- students can talk about their portfolios, read selections from them
- this should be a celebration of learning, snacks are very appropriate!