Thursday, November 11, 2010

Student Portfolios & Learning Reviews

It's that time of year again, the first time our students take home their beloved red binders to share their learning with their families. Last year, our school piloted an alternative assessment and reporting strategy which included compiling portfolios of student learning throughout the year. The main idea is that this red binder can more authentically represent a student’s growth and development over a grade level year, when compared to a traditional report card.

In my classroom, key elements for developing these portfolios include:

  • Student ownership and investment
  • Awareness of progress and development
  • Demonstration of knowledge, skills and understanding
  • Communication in the form of written feedback between teacher, student and parents
  • Reflection of the student as a learner, fostering metacognition
  • Celebration of achievements, abilities and strengths
Here is a video that I produced as an informative tool for families going through this transition from traditional reporting to what I believe is a more authentic and realistic representation and assessment of a child's learning over time.

Three-way learning reviews include parents + student + teacher and focus on a discussion of the child's strengths and accomplishments. A highlight is setting goals for the upcoming reporting period and possibly for the rest of the year. This goal-setting task is not easy, but as we develop these habits over time, I have begun to observe students' understanding and conceptualization of their own learning styles, strengths and needs. Students who are in control of their learning are ultimately more empowered to challenge themselves and develop confidence in who they are as learners.

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