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Student Portfolios: Let’s assess them creatively!

Three months into a new academic session, with everything digital, let us assess our readiness to harness students’ creativity and voice through portfolios! 

With ICSE-ISC results out and states contemplating the future and logistics of pen-and-paper assessments, our students can’t wait for learning to happen. And our educators can’t not assess their teaching and what their learners know! So, let’s find creative ways to measure & track student progress, and make their portfolios skill-ready for the future…

In this webinar, we explored managing student progress through portfolios as an assessment tool, as a part of Highr’s Big 4 of Quality Teaching

Why portfolios? 

Because it checks all your boxes to become an ace and inclusive educator!

Portfolios are a purposeful collection of student work that showcase student effort, voice, progress and achievements. It is the first concrete step for a learner on the path of self-reflection and assessment. Precisely why our learners take ownership and engage in making them; it’s their documented personality! 

For educators, it serves as evidence of learning over a period of time, say a quarterly reflection, or a mastery of their students’ knowledge, skills and mindsets. While portfolios only earned credits as an end-of-year project earlier, it is now recommended by the National Curriculum and a part of internal assessment till Grade 10. 

Remember: Portfolios are about the process of learning, not just the end product!

How portfolios?

This is where our (gender fluid) Bob the builder educators must do some serious backward planning! 

Link-Inquire-Reflect-Assess! First, we link the curriculum objectives and learning outcomes to what our students will learn in the classroom. Challenge yourself to integrate it across subjects as well! Second, we curate rubrics, checklists, projects that help us inquire about student learning. Give your learners work worthy of a portfolio!  

Key elements of student portfolio assessment

Remember: The first two steps of Link and Inquire should be planned with your students. Nudge them to write their own learning goals, do a quick classroom sharing, connect to curriculum and outcomes, and begin your journey together! 

Third step, let your students wear their reflection hats and assess themselves on their work. Let them choose what deserves a space in their portfolio! Let them ask: Why did I choose this piece? What am I most proud of? What does this show about my learning? What do I want to do next? 

And, here’s our last step! Assess them on their assessment. Look at different assessment criteria like checklist, success response, rating scale, rubrics based on your subjects. There is definitely a pressing worry about the quality of such criteria being at par with pen-and-paper assessments. However, let’s think about the learning objectives and check if those have been fulfilled. 

For instance, I can curate a rubric for any concept with generic metrics like clarity, practice, real-life connection, etc. This rubric can have ‘I believe, do, see….’ statements, so that students can self-assess. For secondary classrooms, educators can also check out these elaborate reflection questions. Educators can adapt such rubrics to their own subjects and test, test, test!

We can also conduct peer assessments. Assess them on their thinking and growth. Support learners in converting their work into digital compositions. We can use ClassDojo, Flipgrid, SeeSaw, Padlet or any other visually appealing collaborative tool to showcase the student portfolios.

Then, provide them feedback and recognise opportunities for improvement with them.  

I still recall how my girls and I sat together to design academic and skill goals at the beginning of the year, and revisited them to decide future course of action after half-yearly exam results. However, the most beautiful part of our portfolio habit was how each individual’s unique elements started reflecting in their subject work. 

Click HERE for an all-encompassing FAQs on portfolios as an assessment tool. 

Make connections!

This is where we become like our students when they are asked to make real-life connections of the concepts taught. Let us make connections to the previous Summer of Learning webinars! 

First, we will recall our lesson on Project-based Learning (PBL) where we checked all boxes of a high-quality lesson plan and a portfolio—setting outcomes, 21st century skills, student choice and voice, and ownership of learning.  

PBL gives a framework to design students portfolio work and present it both, in and outside the classroom. Learners can engage with community experts on curriculum concepts, and showcase their learning in their portfolios. 

Revisit PBL here: http://www.highr.in/2020/07/04/project-based-learning-is-it-learners-main-course-yet/

Second, this recall is to our feedback lesson to make ourselves feedback literate and FLOOP our peer feedback exercise on student portfolios! Given that portfolios are about the process, educators must feed their students up-back-forward at every juncture of need. 

Revisit Feedback lesson here: http://www.highr.in/2020/07/09/effective-feedback-tactics-back-up-and-forward/

Let’s compel our central and state education bodies to shift from Board exams to student portfolios as a focus on improvement, effort, AND achievement, not just the latter! 

If you’re looking for some weekend inspiration, here’s a beautiful Ted Talk by John Hunter on complex world problems being solved by fourth-graders!

Watch the full webinar here:

Portfolios as an assessment tool

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