Every year our students put together portfolios to showcase their learning efforts. The portfolios include photos, signature learning pieces, reflections, and data too. The children organize their work by subject area, and when we sit down with parents and students to discuss their learning, the children highlight a few reflections and evidence of their learning. I really like the use of these portfolios, yet I'm always finding that we have difficulty finding the time to put them together. Hence we have to push a few other learning experiences aside to make room for this reflective practice.
Last year I felt I rushed the preparation for the parent-student-teacher conference a bit too much so this year I'm making sure that we really take the time we need to prepare to demonstrate a child's good efforts and goals. There's a lot of learning left to come in the year, and this will give us a chance to sit down together to reflect on the teaching/learning program and think about the next steps.
There's a definite developmental curve when it comes to reflection and metacognition, and fifth graders are just beginning to deepen their ability to step outside of themselves to take a look at what they've done, how they're doing, and where they would like to take their learning in the days ahead. One of my favorite questions that's included on most reflections is "How might family members and teachers help you?" This demonstrates to students that we are there for them and ready to help out.
So many of my students do extraordinary learning outside of school through sports, the arts, nature, technology and other learning endeavor. I'd like to make some room for that learning in the portfolios too. While I believe school is important, I also believe that it is important to develop students' interests and passions. I often say 50% academic and 50% passion is a good way to think about development--nurture children's essential skills and nurture what makes them unique and excited about life too.
It's likely that tomorrow will be a snow day, and if so, I'll use the day to organize students' portfolio data sheets, the term reflection, a passion page, conference script, and the portfolio check list with colleagues online. On Thursday we'll dedicate most of the day to the portfolio completion, and then next week we'll host most of our family-student-educator conferences. Onward.