The Evolution of Portfolios

Have you utilized the “Portfolio” tool? Do you enjoy it? Would you recommend it to other teachers? Portfolios have always been an invaluable tool in my teacher toolkit. It started primarily as a diagnostic tool; which I kept in the back of the classroom in case a district head walked in and wanted to know about a particular student’s progress. Over the years different layers have been added to hold students accountable for learning the coursework yet, I also allowed individuality to emerge as students selected their contributions to the collection of evidence.

One year a “letter to reader” was added. The letter served as an introduction to the student and their collection of work. Most students wrote paragraphs about how they felt about their progress and what they were most proud of. Most students wrote paragraphs about how they felt about their progress and what they were most proud of. Another year students were given “mathography” prompts, these prompts were used to allow students to reflect on their math education – their math biography. Questions like, “What math tricks do you remember learning?” or “Who’s better at math girls or boys?” were always fun to read. It was interesting learning one year that most kids stopped liking math around 3rd grade or when the introduction of variables entered into a curriculum. 

Mathography Prompt: Student Samples

One of my favorite additions to the “Portfolio” has been the cover page. Students draw a picture expressing how math makes them feel. This is usually the first activity at the beginning of the school year and like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. The results have been insightful, a good look into my students mindset and helpful in telling me how they really feel about math.

How do you feel about math? – Student Samples

Since I’ve started teaching CPM, I began again reinventing my “Portfolio” toolkit, making it more a collection of evidence tool and lesson reflection component. While teaching completely remote, I needed to find different methods to get my students to interact with the material I was teaching in my Core Connections Geometry course. When I stumbled onto the “Portfolio tab” in my teacher’s resources, I was excited to see all the materials that were available and at my disposal. Each assignment had multiple pieces, a reflective prompt, a vocabulary component, and a collection of evidence component. They were great assignments for those remote social/emotional days we had during our last school year. My portfolios became much more than just a folder stored in the back of the room. They have become a reflective journal; students can look back at a chapter, write about what they learned, and show proof of progression throughout the lessons.

My most recent addition to the class “Portfolio” is allowing students to create informational pamphlets about the chapters we studied the prior semester. Students chose to work individually or in groups. This has been my favorite practice. As students worked in their groups I listened to the rich conversations. They were truly engaged, arguing the benefits of choosing chapter 3 over chapter 5. We completed many activities which they remembered and recalled in their pamphlets. Watching students explain their work on display as part of their assignment was immensely satisfying. 

Fall Semester Chapter Review Pamphlet – Student Samples

As my journey as an educator continues I look forward to the evolution of the “Portfolio”, as It has been a universal tool allowing students to share their thoughts and ideas regarding mathematics in a safe, consistent space and allows them to collect evidence which displays their true understanding of the material.

One comment on “The Evolution of Portfolios

  1. Thank you for sharing the student work samples. It is fun to see what they came up with. I especially enjoy the “best activities” and “my advice” sections!

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