Let’s Talk Portfolios

The idea of having Michelle’s educational progress assessed and evaluated based on a portfolio of her work scared me so much that I almost a) opted out of homeschooling her at all b) opted for a testing assessment instead.  Porfolios, ack! 

Two porfolio assessments later and I’m cool with this but you should have seen me the first year, I was a basketcase!

We started out keeping really detailed timesheets.  How much time she spent on this subject, on that subject, on exercise and fitness, on EVERYTHING.  That lasted about a week.  Then, I moved to a more traditional "teacher’s planner" type method.  I created lesson plans in advance.  We initialed a cute little gradebook when she completed an assignment.  That lasted for about a month.  From there, I created a text file with assignments for a week at a time and I emailed those to her every Monday.  I saved them in a folder on my desktop and compiled them every month to keep things a little bit tidy.   It was an "ok" method, but not great.  Since our state does not require specific time spent in school requirements or specific lesson outlines, a lot of this stuff was a waste of my time. 

I also used a homeschool software program for about three months.  I used it to enter the books she read, the "grades" she received on worksheets, videos she watched, exercise she got – you name it, I was recording it.  It was incredibly time consuming and I was tracking stuff I simply didn’t need to track, not for my benefit or Michelle’s or the school board’s.   Total waste of $10. 

We created a folder system and all of her work went into that folder system.  At some point in the year, the folders became an awful lot of trouble so her work just went into the big filing cabinet drawer where the folders were.  This made for a lot of organizing and sifting when porfolio review time came around.  We managed, but it was a little bit stressful and I was overwhelmed by the amount of paper we had accumulated. 

Pulling the portfolio together was really troubling.  There was no real guidance available to me.  None of the homeschoolers I had talked to were homeschooling older kids and they weren’t really sure what a porfolio of a highschooler should look like.  The teacher who was going to do the assessment wasn’t much help, "Just include what you think is a good example of her progress."  Gah!

I did it, but I stressed over it and stressed over it and I think I overwhelmed the poor woman doing the assessment.  She just kept saying "Wow, you did a lot."   I think what she probably meant was "Wow, you included way too much and I can never sift through all of this in the time I’ve alotted for your assessment." 

Ah well, live and learn!  I’m not sure I really learned anything though since pulling together the second portfolio was a little bit easier but not as easy as I’d have liked…

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2 responses to “Let’s Talk Portfolios

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this. I’ve been thinking of doing a homebased portfolio for Little Dude based on the outside support he gets (which I pay for) vs. what the expecations are at IEP time. That way, I can better direct the school district dollars without a huge shouting/legal match. I coudl provide solid proof where he is. But the whole collection/organization thing freaked me bad. Hell, I just my shoes organized much less my child’s mind.

  2. Hmmm a porfolio for little dude, good idea. I’m trying to figure out what such a thing would look like. Obviously those books he is writing, you’d need samples of those.

    I’m thinking audio would be an interesting thing to include in this kind of portfolio but I’m not sure how I’d go about it.

    Don’t freak out, that makes it worse. I’ll think some more. 🙂

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