Section 4: Portfolios

Conceptual Overview

Presentation Audio Transcript

Text-Based Reflection

Read the Center for Collaborative Education's "Student Portfolios: Quality Performance Assessment in Action" for a series of blog posts describing portfolio practices in two New England schools.
Answer the following questions:

  • What resonates with you about these pieces? What do they discuss that excites you about portfolios?
  • What challenges do the pieces raise? Which of these seem most pertinent to your context?

Student Experience

Examine this sample portfolio and this second portfolio.
Answer the following questions:

  • The two portfolios are very different in structure. How does each allow the student to tell the story of their learning?
  • Based on these two examples (and others you may have seen), how might you structure a portfolio?

Educator Experience

Read Education World's "Student Portfolios as an Assessment Tool", which claims "The portfolio is not the easiest tool to implement."
Answer the following questions.

  • The piece mentions three specific difficulties in implementing portfolios. Would these be challenges in your setting? Why?
  • What are other challenges that might arise in your school?
  • What are ways you might work with your colleagues to face these challenges?

Case Study Analysis

Read the case study below:

Max transferred to a new high school at the end of tenth grade. In his previous school district, all students maintained a digital portfolio that included artifacts and reflections that were created as students completed performance assessments. Each artifact was connected to some of the schools’ transferable skills and content proficiencies. At the end of each year, students chose four artifacts to present at a round table presentation that included parents, teachers, and other students. Max started his portfolio in the sixth grade and was very proud of the work he had completed.

In Max’s new school, they had a similar portfolio, but different transferable skills and content proficiencies and a different process for sharing. Even though they looked similar, there were differences in wording and organization. For example, in Max’s old school collaboration was a transferable skill, whereas in the new school, it was embedded in other areas. Students were also not required to submit reflections for each artifact, rather were just asked to collect artifacts and check off which skills they were meeting. Another difference was that students had to present to a panel of teachers at the end of the junior year how they had demonstrated the school’s PBGRs. If they didn’t demonstrate them all, they would have another opportunity to demonstrate them in their senior year of high school.

At the start of the school year, Max attended the junior year overview and learned about the requirement. He was worried that he was behind his peers and that he might not have enough evidence to meet his new schools’ PBGRs. He made an appointment with his guidance counselor and asked if he could just continue with his old portfolio. The guidance counselor told Max he would ask the principal and get back to him.

Answer the following questions:

  • As a principal, how would you address this question? Would it make a difference for a 9th-grade transfer student?
  • What policies might you consider creating as a result of Max’s dilemma?

Supplemental Resources

Examine the Center for Collaborative Education's "What Portfolios Can and Can't Do" for a chart about the uses of portfolios.
Examine the Center for Collaborative Education's example digital portfolio to see what a simple Google Site portfolio could look like in practice.
Read Edutopia's "Digital Portfolios: The Art of Reflection" for a blog about using technological tools to promote student reflection.
Browse Edutopia's "4 Free Web Tools for Student Portfolios" for tips about how to organize digital portfolios.
Read the Glossary of Education Reform's entry on "Portfolios" for a high-level overview of their use and relevant considerations.

Evidence of Learning

Be sure to record your answers to the above questions in the Evidence of Learning Tool.

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Section 5: Student-Designed Learning Projects

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