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7:1 Inventory of available resources

To use portfolio assessment in your classroom, you will need materials for each student to make:
  • the portfolio contents
  • a container to hold all class work before anything is selected for the portfolio
  • the portfolio container in which the portfolio works will be placed

The first step in planning contents is evaluating your current resources. You will want to identify materials and resources that are available for creating the portfolio and its contents. Consider what materials you have in your classroom and what departmental materials are available. Consult with other teachers who might have ideas, spare materials, or a desire to collaborate. You might also want to ask students for their suggestions.

In addition to identifying materials for creating the contents, you will need to create two containers for each student: one to hold possible works to be included in the portfolio, and the other, the actual portfolio, which will hold and organize the selected pieces. The type of portfolio and pre-portfolio containers will depend on the student work to be collected; therefore, decisions about containers and contents are best made in tandem.

Where you store student' portfolios is another consideration in determining the contents of the portfolio. You will want to account for the increasing space the portfolios will occupy. Start by identifying an available area in your classroom such as a spare closet, shelf, or filing cabinet. Be creative and enlist the help of your students. To reduce the chances of loss or damage to the portfolios, keep them in the classroom and limit their removal to special events, such as parent conferences. Some school districts are exploring storing portfolios on CD-ROMs, which overcomes challenges posed by limited space, but requires technological equipment and training.

Teacher reflection: When I began planning for portfolio assessment, I found my first challenge to be deciding on the portfolio container. I knew I wanted students to be able to include many types of artifacts ranging from papers to videos. I thought it would be ideal to have big 3-ring notebooks with folder flaps and colorful dividers that could hold an assortment of items. At the time, I was the only teacher in my department implementing portfolios and that year the department was not able to provide help in regards to supplying a container. I did not feel I could ask students to buy the container given the socio-economic situation of many of my students. The bottom line was that I had to buy the containers, and this really affected the type of container I could get for thirty students. I settled on pocket folders, which may not have been my ideal scenario, but I made it work in the long run. It definitely affected what students could include in their portfolio. Luckily, since this time, my department has become more active in portfolios and we have graduated to the 3-ring binders, but I would suggest that all teachers think about this before starting the portfolio process.

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