The sciences seem like natural places for portfolios because so much student learning is already assessed and measured outside of tests. Of course, I think of labs as I write this. This stuff of science is exactly the kind of work that should end up in a portfolio.
Remember, portfolios show learning over time. Remember, they must allow for student choice, a self- evaluation of what best showcases their learning is central. Students are to consider their strengths and weaknesses, and how to improve.
This pdf, made by science teachers is a terrific, ready made tool easily adaptable to any portfolio format.
In an Edutopia post, cool cat teacher Vicki Davis (follow her by the way) writes:
How will the portions of your portfolio relate to standards and coursework? Can you use portfolio assignments as advance organizers?
In the Marzano Center’s new book Identifying Critical Content, the authors discuss the importance of effectively cueing critical information. One of the concepts discussed is the advance organization of content, a term coined by psychologist David Ausubel to describe helping students understand the content of a section before it is introduced.
For a science portfolio, you could introduce a unit on water quality by informing students that they will be preparing a section of their portfolio where they'll explain how water quality can be assessed. They can write their opinion beforehand while quoting the data and charts from their learning. In this example, you've told students what will be covered so they can begin with the end in mind. So at the beginning of a unit, you can share what type of evidence they’ll be collecting for their portfolio, and you can relate standards to outcomes more clearly using portfolios as advance organizers.
My colleague +Padraig Barry could have his students place their Mars projects in their portfolios. Similarly, +Patricia Zaradic should have her students placed their impressive stream study google sites into their portfolios. I am sure that every teacher can think of something right away that every student could and should add to a portfolio. But a portfolio isn't just a place to house work. It is a place for students to reflect upon work. Otherwise, we rob portfolios of their value.
This article is aimed at the high school teacher, though teachers of younger students will find it useful as well.
By the way, if you want to make your own Keep Calm poster, go here