The Power of Portfolios: What Children Can Teach Us about Learning and Assessment

The Power of Portfolios: What Children Can Teach Us about Learning and Assessment

The Power of Portfolios: What Children Can Teach Us about Learning and Assessment

The Power of Portfolios: What Children Can Teach Us about Learning and Assessment

Synopsis

How should a student's learning be measured and assessed? Standardized tests identify the most knowledgeable child, whereas student portfolios can identify the knowledge level of each individual child. In The Power of Portfolios, Elizabeth A. Hebert offers a practical and imaginative approach for using portfolios with elementary level students and shows how the portfolio process can serve as a powerful motivational tool by encouraging students to assess their own work, set goals, and take responsibility for future learning. Throughout the book Hebert relates stories that illuminate the lessons learned -- by the students, teachers, and principal -- from a school that has used portfolios for more than a decade. Rather than prescribing what the portfolio should contain and how it should be assessed, she offers practical guidance, including classroom exercises, for making the portfolio experience a success for the students, the teachers, and the school as a whole.

Excerpt

Portfolios have been with us for a very long time. Those of us who grew up in the 1950s or earlier recognize portfolios as reincarnations of the large memory boxes or drawers where our parents collected starred spelling tests, lacy valentines, science fair posters, early attempts at poetry, and (of course) the obligatory set of plaster hands. Each item was selected by our parents because it represented our acquisition of a new skill or our feelings of accomplishment. Perhaps an entry was accompanied by a special notation of praise from a teacher or maybe it was placed in the box just because we did it.

We formed part of our identity from the contents of these memory boxes. We recognized each piece and its association with a particular time or experience. We shared these collections with grandparents to reinforce feelings of pride and we reexamined them on rainy days when friends were unavailable for play. Reflecting on the collection allowed us to attribute importance to these artifacts, and by extension to ourselves, as they gave witness to the story of our early school experiences.

Our parents couldn't possibly envision that these memory boxes would be the inspiration for an innovative way of thinking about children's learning. These collections, lovingly stored away on our behalf, are the genuine exemplar for documenting children's learning over time. But now these memory boxes have a different meaning. It's not . . .

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