Confessions of a Friday Folder, Good for Growth

Messy piles of home office paperwork in coloured foldersAre backpacks portfolios?

Portfolios in the form of a Friday folder yielded good growth confessions from my kids. “I got a yellow light”, my child confessed. “Do you know why?”, I responded. “No. Well, yea,” he replied humbly. The half-zipped Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpack contents resisted the plunge-grab-toss maneuvers of his small hands. “Here’s my Friday folder,” he announced proudly, despite his earlier declaration. We’d review the folder, and talk about all that the contents offered – processes, knowledge gained, and outcomes (including, but not only, the yellow light). We’d also use evidence within the backpack to support analysis and set goals.

How is technology changing the Friday folder?

So it seems that students have been exposed to the portfolio concept and purposes, advantages and power early on in their academic journey.  Why, I wonder, do we now see major universities, like Auburn University, investing in eportfolio projects for their undergraduate students? Does the intentional reflection on products and outcomes fade in middle and high school, only to need to be regenerated in higher education and beyond? As k-12 educators, should we reevaluate the Friday folder reflection value with new technology available to produce high quality eportfolios easily?

According to a professor in teacher education, students in her program understand the value of building an eportfolio. Most student teachers must compile an eportfolio to provide evidence of their competency in the classroom. This eportfolio is typically produced in whatever software the school utilizes for learning management (Taskstream, LifeText, etc.). Teachers need to know how to connect and construct eportfolio designs appropriate for the developmental and technological stages of their students.  They need to assess and select eportfolio software tools to meet the design needs.

The Portfolio Connection (S. Belgrad, K. Burke & R. Fogarty, 2008) outlines steps and tips for teaching students how to create portfolios and eportfolios.  By using their outline, your students will learn how to showcase their individuality, achievement and uniqueness.  Middle school students often have one foot in elementary school and one in high school.  Teaching middle school students to find their voice through authentic reflection and assessment in an eportfolio, is like that Friday folder confession, and good for growth.

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