I’ve long been using the writers portfolio in my writing program. I like the way it helps students to focus their thoughts. There’s a few hacks that I put on it that I think are necessary.
I usually start my portfolio with the definition of the big skills and strategies we been working on. I get the students to define the skills giving examples from their work. This is a way for them to reflect on what we’ve done.
I then get them to reflect on the diagnostic assessment that we did for this unit. I get them to reflect on what they did well and what they need to work on, both in their plan and in the writing. I like this throwback to the beginning of the unit for them to consider where they were.
Then I get them to submit a certain number of plans and writing from the practice portion of the pathway. I get them to prove that they have been working on the feedback from the initial assessment. I get them reflect on why it is good. This is my attempt to get them back to the success criteria. Did they do what was expected of them?
One piece I’ve really enjoyed adding to my pathway is for the students to re-do the initial diagnostic assessment. My thinking is that after three or four or five weeks of work, they should be better writers. They will prove this by making big improvements to the writing diagnostic assessment. I think it’s important for the kids to look at the work that they’ve done and see how far they have come. This is a real motivating factor to make these big changes. With a first copy and the second copy, they can clearly see that they’ve made changes.
One thing I struggle with, especially at the end of the writing pathway, is managing all of the assessment. One thing if you want to try to limit in the amount of practice pieces that they give me. And get them to choose only the best and that is the piece that I can assess. Plus I don’t want to mark a whole lot of things if I can just mark a couple of things!
I also need to manage feedback for this. It’s tricky when I give feedback at the end of this pathway. It’s more of a summative assessment and proof of the learning. But at the end of the pathway managing all of that work and getting the right amount feedback is still a struggle.