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7:5 Guidelines for selecting contents

1. Each student should have a folder or other container in the classroom where work that might be placed in the portfolio is kept. All items should be dated and have a brief note about the context in which the work was done. (Small stick-on notes can be helpful in this process). Dating each artifact is essential to tracking progress over time. Putting the work in context will facilitate later annotations to pieces included in the portfolio.

2. Before students begin to include pieces, they should organize their portfolio into s representing each goal. In a writing portfolio, for example, they can do this by using headings, dividers, and labels.

3. Formulate a set of guidelines for choosing portfolio pieces. In general, keep in mind that the work should demonstrate progress toward one of the portfolio goals, the student should be proud of the work and want to include it, and the work should be relevant to the student's life. It is important to note that portfolios assess students' learning progress. Significant learning occurs for students on the way to mastering a skill. This progress can be documented by including work that show evidence of the steps toward the goal. Both drafts and critical reflections, for example, are effective. What this means for selecting pieces is that the work only needs to meet the guidelines for inclusion; it does not need to show mastery, only that progress has been made toward a goal.

4. Approximately every two weeks or at the end of a unit, ask students to select one or two pieces of evidence to include in their portfolios. The first pieces will become baselines to measure students' progress. Some pieces can meet more than one goal. The students, with guidance from the teacher, decide which goal the work shows progress toward and how that is evidenced by completing a student annotation form explaining the work's relevance to the goal. (Student's Annotation for Artifacts, and Student's Foreign Language Standards Checklist) This component of portfolio assessment emphasizes the students' role in guiding and evaluating their own learning progress.

5. As they build their portfolios, students will want to include a combination of entries selected from artifacts and attestations they have collected to strengthen the reliability of the assessment. The criteria for specific entries and general goal statements are required pieces. (See Sample Unit: Portfolio Organization)

6. If you are using portfolios for the first time, you may want to limit the number of works to be contributed or the entire scope of the portfolio.

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