at Cushing School
What Is A Portfolio?
Portfolios are not random collections of observations of student work but rather a systematic collection of student work. Basically, the portfolio is evidence used by the teacher and student to monitor the growth of the student’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes in each subject. Observations are noted and the student’s work is collected which relates to major instructional goals for the grade level.
You may find completed checklists from our adopted series in language arts, mathematics (Everyday Mathematics, and Connected Mathematics), and science (Harcourt) for each completed unit of study. In addition, you will find the student’s reflections, reading logs, writing samples, possibly an audiotape of oral reading (grades 1-2), and maybe even a sample of a special project.
There are two basic types of portfolios. The “Work-In-Progress Portfolio” is the day-to-day, week-to-week collection of work. After a certain amount of time (maybe the end of a unit, maybe each month) the student and the teacher will chose specific samples of work to place in the “Showcase Portfolio”. The portfolio you will see when you come to your child’s Portfolio Day is the Showcase Portfolio. It is a representation of the work completed throughout the year and is designed to provide samples of the student’s best work. Key in this process is the fact that the student has input into what pieces of work will be included in the Showcase Portfolio. Attached to the work samples may be a reflection by the student as to why he or she is proud of this sample and why it was chosen for the Showcase Portfolio. By the end of the academic year, the Showcase Portfolio provides a focused portrait of the child. The entire process from brainstorming to draft to finished and edited product provides the reviewer with a roadmap of learning. The reflections of the student also provide evidence of the student’s responsibility for his/her academic growth.
Portfolios are a valuable measure of literacy. Portfolios inform and involve the student as well as the teacher and the parent in the academic growth of the student. Most importantly, portfolio assessment brings assessment in line with instruction. Portfolios provide for “embedded assessment” on a daily basis. While a single formal test may provide an assessment of knowledge on a particular day, a portfolio allows for documented assessment over an extended period of time resulting in a clear, focused picture of your child’s accomplishments rather than an instant, snapshot picture.
On Portfolio Day, What Is My Role as Parent?
When you arrive at school for Portfolio Day, you will be spending time with your child guiding you through his/her portfolio. Feel free to ask questions as you look at work, listen to a tape, or review a student or teacher reflection. In fact, many teachers give you a guide helping to focus your time with your child on Portfolio Day. For example, a Grade 1 guide given to parents in the past states:
Welcome to Grade 1 Portfolio Day
Your child is very excited to share his/her portfolio with you. The children have selected what they consider to be their best work and can SEE their growth since September. But what should you expect to see? What should you look for?
As you are shown the collection, start with the earliest works first and watch for a progression toward:
- Spacing between words
- The use of punctuation (periods, exclamation points, question marks, quotation marks)
- The use of lower case letters, with upper case letters appearing only where required (at the beginning of a sentence or a name, etc.)
- More "standard" spelling vs. kid spell
- Self-editing techniques (a caret to insert letters or words, a slash to delete words or to correct spelling). Please note that editing is done in colored pencil.
- Stories "making sense": having a beginning, a middle and an end
- Characters becoming more developed
- More complex stories, possibly involving humor, emotions or adventure
- More detail in text and illustrations
- More "risk-taking," an increasing willingness to tackle unfamiliar words
Enjoy yourself! Your child has been working so hard. First grade is such an exciting year, when the children take wing and SOAR! Today is a time to celebrate the growth of a community of learners! Thank you for coming to Portfolio Day!
As the Grade 1 Portfolio Day Guide says, it is amazing to see the growth that has occurred from September to this point in the school year. We encourage you to talk with your child about that growth and to use the work samples to help you and your child define some new goals for the remainder of the year. As the Portfolio sharing time draws to a close, you will be asked to complete a short set of questions about your experience with Portfolio Day. Your comments will aid the staff in supporting your child for the remainder of this academic year as well as helping us determine the most productive portion of the visit.
Teachers are eager to share your child’s portfolio with you at any point during the school year. They are often an integral part of the parent-teacher conferences held during the school year. Additionally, Cushing School hosts Portfolio Days in the spring of each school year. It is hard to believe that when I arrived nine years ago, Portfolio Days were only held in a few classrooms, now they are wide spread.
Sharing a portfolio is a wonderful way to celebrate the learning that has occurred thus far this academic year and it also provides a structured opportunity for parent and child to discuss academic performance and set new goals for the remainder of the school year. At Cushing School, specifics about the times and place for your child’s portfolio day will be forthcoming from the classroom teachers, however, we seem to be adding this component of our learning community to our Literacy Day celebration each spring.