This is my 3rd year using eportfolios in the classroom and my second year using them as a reporting system. I really feel that I’m starting to dial in what I want them to be and I’ve used a lot of other people’s help and ideas to get to this point, particularly Hilary Braid-Skolski and Kelli Meredith from SD61, and Comox Valley School District.

My Portfolio Beliefs

Portfolios can be used in a variety of different ways so I just want to clearly state my intentions with portfolios. I use portfolios as a reflection tool for students and our self-reflection comments are the most important piece. My goal in using them is for students to build a better understanding of where they are at in their own learning and where they need to go (strengths and goals). Our portfolios are the presentation piece of our learning; we do a lot of practice with peer and teacher feedback before we post an example to our portfolios. All of our posts are tied to a curricular competency in an “I can” statement in student-friendly language. In our district we are using FreshGrade and although there are some areas where it still needs to be improved, overall it is a nice format that is simple for students to use.

My FreshGrade Bulletin Board

Portfolio Entries

Kelli and I created this sample entry after we had narrowed in on what we wanted our portfolios to look like (using Bart Simpson’s name because we teach middle school – obviously!)

Each entry starts with the “I can” statement which is entered by the teacher. For my portfolios I usually write them as “Math: I can estimate reasonably” to make it easier for parents to find since one of the negatives of FreshGrade is that there is not sorting option for Parents or Students and it can be quite a lot to look at.

After the curricular competency, each entry needs to have a learning artifact (video, picture, document, etc.) and a student self-reflection. My job is to then go in and comment on each student’s self-reflection which can be as simple as “I agree with your assessment here” or it can involve writing a goal to a student or asking them to come check in with me. This is also the space for parents to engage with the portfolio.

Self-Reflection Comments

This year, our self-reflections have to have four parts to them:

  1. Assessment of learning
  2. Evidence
  3. Strengths
  4. Goals

To start with I give students the language to use through sentence stems. From there, some students are able to write reflective comments that touch all four parts but are written less formally and some students stick to the sentence stems given.

“For this learning goal I am (Approaching/ Satisfactorily Meeting/Fully Meeting/Exceeding Expectations) because I (evidence to support assessment). I would like you to notice (strength in work). A goal for next time is (goal).

It took about 6 weeks for students to get the hang of doing a full self-reflection every time we post to FreshGrade but now they need very few reminders.

Reflection

Overall, I love using portfolios and would never go back to any other form of assessment. I believe using electronic portfolios streamlines the whole system, provides easy communication with parents, and it has made the student self-reflection piece more consistent and powerful.

I met with each of my students (yay for smaller class sizes!) before report cards this term and almost every single student knew where they were for letter grades even though I have not given a single “score” on anything. We are using purely anecdotal feedback from me and then self-assessment. It has been a very powerful switch for me and I am so happy that I’ve been able to play around with it to get it to this place.

At this time, I am happy with FreshGrade as the platform but I can see that there may be benefits to other platforms at the middle school level. I really like the idea of having a password protected blog or website for student reflection as it would give them a little more ownership over the space and you could use pages or tags to allow for subject sorting of portfolio entries.

Does your district use eportfolios?

How do you engage students in self-assessment practices?