Layer 1: Portfolios and Formative Assessment

The discussion of assessment is a tricky, but important one to have.  It’s an issue that cannot be avoided–students must earn grades based on their performance in your class.  We live in difficult times, as the Vacca, Vacca, and Mraz text discusses, because of the increased emphasis on standardized testing scores.  While we want our students to do as well as possible on these tests, we risk losing sight of our students’ best interests.  If the emphasis switches from being on what students learn to how students learn, as the Reis
 text suggests, then I think we’ll witness an indirect positive effect on test scores.  Methods of assessment that I’ve thought a lot about using to accomplish these goals in my classroom are portfolios and formative assessments in various forms.

I see many advantages to the portfolio method of assessment that directly benefit the student.  As the Gillespie article put it, “the major advantage of portfolio assessment is that it allows students to actively participate with teachers in the assessment process.”  This, I think, helps students both develop a sense of ownership of their own work while nurturing metacognition in the classroom.  Another advantage to using portfolios is an increased emphasis on the writing process.  If teachers are involved in taking a piece of writing through the process, then students have more opportunity to learn and improve their writing.  This becomes, in a sense, formative assessment, which is the form of assessment that most directly benefits the student.  An additional advantage, if desired, is the opportunity to have students publish their work.  In today’s digital world, you can use a blog or a Google site to host the portfolio, which gives students the opportunity to have people outside of the classroom read their work.

Because I’ll be an English teacher and my class will have a lot of writing, having students keep a portfolio of their work is fitting.  Like I mentioned before, I think a great way to do this while also teaching digital literacy is through portfolio blogs.  Much like we do in this class, students will publish the work they choose to include in their portfolio to a blog.  Reflective assessment will also be a regular part of my class.  Strategies like exit slips and “The Week in Review” that the Bond, Evans, and Ellis piece suggest foster metacognition and fit perfectly into a portfolio method of assessment.  Students will also be asked to reflect on their writing through its various stages, and this too will be a part of their portfolio.  This will help students take ownership of their work while helping me grade it.  RCA2011.


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One response to “Layer 1: Portfolios and Formative Assessment

  1. Portfolios are a great way to empower students with ownership of their products and the processes involved in the learning process. As you mentioned, self-assessments allow students to exercise that metacognitive muscle and really evaluate their understanding and progress throughout the learning task. Bond et al. provided us with some valuable suggestions; in addition to the ones you mentioned, I also like the clear/unclear windows idea. I am glad to hear that you will be incorporating portfolio blogs into your daily instruction. I think we are all sold on this idea by now:)

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