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Middle School Students Present Portfolios



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Middle School Students Present Portfolios

By Susan Coney

Newtown Middle School Assistant Principal Kathy Boettner suggested to her staff the idea of piloting a program to organize each individual student’s work for the entire year into a portfolio. The suggestion was not only heard by the teachers of Cluster 7 Purple, they acted upon the idea by developing it into their everyday curriculum.

Math teacher Betsy Stevens, science teacher Val Leone, language arts teacher Kathy McGivern, and social studies teacher Shari Oliver created an organized way for their students to save and file their most important works for the year. Not only does it serve as a wonderful way to keep tract of work, it includes reflections written by the students themselves about their work, and their progress.

The portfolio was complied in a binder that the students kept handy on a cart in the classroom. The most important papers, reports, persuasive essays, projects, and samples of tests were sorted into sections representing the four core subjects: math, science, language arts, and social studies.

During the year the students filed away returned assignments and wrote reflections about each piece. The reflections were based on their organization, work habits, participation, behavior, and effort on the piece.

On Tuesday, June 21, the students and their teachers invited parents to come into the cafeteria to enjoy a breakfast and have the opportunity to share with their child the portfolios they had created. The parents were treated to a slide show accompanied by music showing many activities and fun moments that Cluster 7 Purple shared during the year. Students Andrew Nichols and Katie Pessin put the slide show together and presented it to the parents. Andrew also welcomed the parents with an inspiring rendition of Josh Groban’s hit “You Raise Me Up.”

The cafeteria was packed with parents reviewing their children’s work and it was apparent that the students were thrilled to have the opportunity to show off all their efforts. Brittany Ziman shared her accumulated work with her parents MaryAnn and Steve who appeared to be very impressed. Clearly enthusiastic about the work she had produced, Brittany eagerly reviewed each page of her binder.

An example of some of the science work complied showed an assignment where the student had to make an analogy between something in their life and the parts of a cell. Brittany compared her cheerleading squad to a cell; in written form and thorough illustration she formed an analogy.

When asked how she felt about the portfolio assignment Brittany commented, “I think it was cool because you can see how you progressed throughout the year. Some kids use to just throw their work away but with this it’s all filed.”

All of the parents were given a sheet in which to reflect about their child’s portfolio. The reflection sheet provided thought-provoking questions that the parents could discuss with their child regarding the progress in the seventh grade. Brittany’s father Steve told his daughter, “You must be pretty pleased with the growth you have made in math and language arts.”

The portfolio’s provide an excellent opportunity for the students, parents, and teachers to reflect, track strengths and weaknesses, and have a tangible record of the work the student accomplished throughout the year.

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