Creating Student Work Folders that Reflect Growth and Learning
Theresa London Cooper
Creating and maintaining a systematic way to collect student work is essential in substantiating how students demonstrate what they have learned, what they need to know, and how they learn best. It also helps you monitor their growth. It is a professional practice akin to a doctor’s: there is the gathering of information , making a diagnosis, finding possible solutions, and monitoring progress.
When the school year begins, create a folder for each student. The first item I included in the folder was a student survey which I distributed on the first day of school in order to get to know my students. I kept my folders in a file cabinet, which were a reach away. I recommend collecting work samples regularly, perhaps every two weeks or monthly. Some of the work may go home for parents to see. You may want to keep selected pieces in the folder in case you are required to support decision making related to teaching strategies to address students’ needs, or students’ promotions or retentions.
A work folder reflects a more comprehensive student profile when it addresses all subject areas and various types of work samples. Therefore, it is important to include pieces of work such as writing samples that demonstrate growth. It could also include photographs of completed projects and/or stages of the project. The folder can contain various examples of how students solve math problems, art work, a written outline of an oral presentation, science lab reports, or surveys given in social studies to gather information. Think of the folder’s contents as data that can help you discover your students’ strengths and challenges and how they learn best.
I found student folders to be quite valuable when having discussions with administration and parents to explain my course of action as the teacher. They are also instrumental in providing evidence when conferencing with students as you review their accomplishments and challenges. Students like to see their work and are pleased to observe the progress they make. Sharing the folders with them reinforces the notion that practice and process are essential to growth and learning.
However you decide to do it, it is vital to have a systematic, ongoing way of collecting pertinent information regarding your students to guide your planning and instruction. It keeps you informed about what they know and need to know as well as the progress they are making. It helps you as the teacher reflect on what you have taught (content) , the ways in which you have taught (process) and the opportunities you have given students to express what they have learned (product).
How will you collect student data?
See also: How to Organized by Bonnie Glasgold