Our module this week included in-depth information on the use of portfolios as a component of assessment. I have to say that the concept of portfolios has always intimidated me. I have collected the work of students over time in order to show growth, but I have always known that I am not using these collections to their full potential. It was a revelation to me to learn that there are five different types of portfolios, each with its own set of uses. Chappuis, et al. (2012, pp. 366-368) describes these types as growth portfolios, project portfolios, achievement portfolios, competence portfolios, and celebration portfolios. Like many of my colleagues throughout our discussions this week, I have come to realize that I already incorporate many of the suggested portfolio practices and with a little tweaking here and there I can implement one or more effective and comprehensive portfolio assessments.
Chappuis, et al. (2012) describes celebration portfolios as a collection of work that student’s choose that reflects something they are most proud of. I am reminded of a practice I currently employ in writing that could easily be transitioned into celebration portfolios as Chappuis describes them. I engage students in daily writing workshops according to Lucy Calkins Units of Study (2003). As part of this curriculum, students select a piece of writing at the end of each unit that they like the most and they revise, edit, and “fancy it up”. As a celebration, we invite other classes, teachers, or parents to come and hear these prized stories. If I could save these chosen stories throughout the year, students would have compiled pieces for a celebration portfolio that is complete by the end of Spring.
For my artifacts this week I wanted to showcase a writing competence portfolio for “Student A”. Competence portfolios demonstrate evidence of achievement of one or more learning targets. The most challenging part of putting this together is determining how many writing samples are needed to show competence in a particular target. According to Chappuis et al. (2012), this is also one of the most crucial considerations. We want to be certain enough samples are collected so that the evidence of competence is not the result of chance. I decided to focus on two writing targets:
- Selects topic easily and develops it throughout writing.
- Uses beginning and ending sounds.
I selected ten writing pieces from Student A’s writing folder that have been completed at various points over the past 2 months. In order to consider a student’s writing as having a “developed topic”, our team decided that he/she must include 2 out of the 5 following “wh” questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Further, I decided that if I found at least 8 pieces that reflected competence of the above two targets then we could consider these goals achieved and they could be checked off on the Writing Goal Checklist. It would be unlikely that 8 demonstrations of these writing behaviors would constitute “chance” rather than mastery. The writing samples are numbered in the bottom right hand corner in order of date, earliest to most recent.
As you can see, each of the writing samples in this portfolio demonstrates the use of beginning and ending sounds. Also, each one reflects answers to “Who” and “What” questions. I have therefore checked off the two learning targets on the Writing Goal Checklist (link provided above). You will notice that several other goals are checked off for this student, however this portfolio reflects only the two goals referenced above.
As I reflect on this assessment type, I am aware that these same ten pieces of writing could actually serve as a competence portfolio for several other learning goals. I imagine that such a portfolio could have a checklist in the front that designates which targets are covered in this collection.
Calkins, L., (2003). Units of study (Vols. 1-7). Portsmouth, NH: Heineman.
Chappuis, J., Stiggins, R., Chappuis, S., & Arter, J. (2012). Classroom assessment for student learning: Doing it right, using it well. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.