Teachers can track the ups and downs of your child's learning through homework assignment, quizzes, and class time - but how much does your child actually know about how well he's doing in school? He may know that he hates math, does well in science, and loves reading, but what about the details?
To help your child turn a critical eye to his own school performance, and motivate him to take responsibility for tackling his academic challenges, make a progress portfolio!
What You Do:
Although you are probably going over your child's work samples on a regular basis, portfolio evaluation is best accomplished after there has been time for various kinds of assignments to accumulate. That means that you should reserve portfolio reviews as a monthly or bimonthly family activity.
Begin by labeling each binder tab for various school subjects and skill areas. For example, include a tab for Math, Writing, Reading, Spelling, Science, Social Studies, Projects, etc.
As your child brings work samples home, 3-hole punch each paper and have them file the assignment behind the appropriate subject tab. Thus, a math worksheet is filed behind the Math tab, and a spelling test is filed behind the Spelling tab, etc.
Make sure that in every subject, each assignment is filed by date, with the most recent work sample filed in the back, so that when your child flips through the work samples in a particular section, they can see a progression of academic growth with each turn of the page.
Focusing on only one subject area at a time, have your child read through all the contents in the section. Then give your child post-it tabs to mark specific work examples. Some possible comments for your child's self-evaluation might include :
- Great effort
- Demonstrates growth/improvement
- Mastery of a concept
- Most enjoyed
Carefully review your child's selections together. Dialogue about his reasons for choosing specific examples over others. In particular, review any samples that your child tagged as challenging; having your child look at concrete work samples to identify concepts in which they need further growth is a powerful method of ownership and discovery. Also, be sure to praise your child’s choices of neatness and effort, as well as to celebrate their accomplishments of mastery and improvement.
At the subsequent portfolio evaluation session, compare your child’s current selections with that of the previous evaluation. Where has he continued to improve? Where does he have room to improve? Using this kind of assessment, areas of improvement, strengths and weaknesses will become apparent to your child, and give him ownership of accomplishments and challenges alike.
Jane Oh has taught third and fourth grades for 8 years. She has worked with many diverse groups of students. Most recently, she has written teacher textbook guides.