As our students end the year, they are preparing their final assessment — a portfolio of their work this year. Writing portfolios are nothing new, but as we thought about how we should structure the portfolio and what it should include, we considered,
- Since our students have submitted all of their work digitally this year, it makes sense for their portfolios to also be digital. It will be easier for us to grade, students will retain access to it forever (unlike notebooks that get thrown away), and we can share these links with their tenth grade English teachers.
- Portfolios should be more than just a compilation of their finished pieces.
- We wanted students to show where they had been and what they had learned, but we also wanted them to reflect on how they would take the writing workshop experience forward with them.
Inspired by Catlin Tucker, we decided on digital portfolios that would cover four primary domains:
- Writing Portfolio –– students will post their work from the entire year, revising two to the point of perfection as a reflection of their growth and new abilities. They will add a reflection about the two revised pieces, discussing what has changed and why they have changed it. Allison has created a list of questions to help students meaningfully revise.
- Video Interview — our students have reflected on each piece of writing they have submitted this year. We still want them to reflect on the overall writing workshop experience, though. All students will respond to the questions below, then we will lead the class in brainstorming potential interview questions.
- What is your biggest takeaway from WW — not in terms of a single skill or lesson, but in terms of how you write and who you are as a writer?
- What have you discovered about yourself as a writer this year?
- What have you worked on during Notebook Time that you would be interested in developing into a more polished piece? Why?
- How have you used mentor texts in your writing this year? What role will mentor texts play in your writing future?
Students will interview and film one another. These video interviews will appear in the portfolio.
- Writing Process — One of our aims in teaching the writer (not just the writing) is that they will come to understand their own strengths and weaknesses as well as their own writing process. In this section of the portfolio, students will create a visual of some kind to convey their own personal process for working through the writing process.
- Plan for Future Writing – At the end of every school year, I get anxious envisioning how my students are going to perform in the next grade. I know they have been exposed to lots of different genres of writing and received copious instruction and mounds of feedback in each. I know that they have produced more writing than they have in any other year of school. Still, I wonder if they have become so dependent on the workshop that they flounder when faced with a very different writing situation.
In this part of the portfolio, we are asking students to imagine that situation — a world without mini-lessons, without loads of in-class writing time, in which they have to seek out feedback. What will they do? Where will they start? How will the skills and routines they have developed this year transfer and translate? We want our students to create a plan they can refer to for using writing workshop to propel them into future writing.
You can find the instructions we gave our students here. And you may even feel free to use the slightly screechy screencast I created to help students set up a portfolio in blogger (You may have to update Java and choose to run Screencast Player to view it).
What great year-end portfolios or activities do you use at the end of the year to help students reflect and plan for the future?