Monday, May 6, 2013

Portfolios in SBG

I was talking crazy the other day trying to figure out ways we can make our SBG classroom better.  Seems like it's all test test test test test test test test test test test, and I'm getting sick of it.

So I was talking this out with my colleague, Stacey Haas, and I was telling her my vision.  I suggested that instead of taking each test as a snapshot of what students know at a particular time, why don't we create "evidence folders" for each learning target?  Students could put whatever they see fit into the folder as long it's truly their own work, including warm-ups, skills sheets, tests, whatever.  At the end of the unit we as teachers can grade the folder holistically to determine the extent to which the student has learned the content.

And then Stacey said, "You mean, like a PORTFOLIO?!"

And yeah, I guess this evidence folder would basically be a portfolio.  I've never been a portfolio kind of guy, but I am intrigued by this idea.  We'd give feedback along the way and multiple opportunities to put in or take out whatever pieces of evidence the student chooses.  We could use those problems from our current assessments to provide opportunities for evidence.  Or maybe we could give the tests as we do now and they would be part of the evidence folder.

It would help to alleviate the problems caused by my district's asinine rule regarding the scores we must use for retakes.  It changes the cheating dynamic.  It seems easier to add a communication & problem solving piece.  All work we do in or out of class may impact their grade.  It gives me more control over their grade and I won't be bound to a single score or just a couple of scores.

I'm going to bounce this idea off of the walls of my brain for a summer and see where my colleagues Stacey & Matthew Sauter come down on it.  I think it could work.

Do you have anything you might suggest to make this idea better?  Don't let me down, Internet.


  1. I love this idea. I have had very similar feelings about how we are doing SBG in chemistry, and I think I might make my own version of this! I particularly like that the students can choose which evidence to include, and that ANY work that is done in class could be included (no more worries of separating formative or summative - which I think is also quite asanine).
    Another feeling that I have had is how to synthesize the learning goals into larger "big picture" assessments that are centered around a standard. I've been finding that many of our LTs are difficult to assess singly, and I would like students to make the connections between individual targets.
    A couple of ideas:
    Not sure if you've heard of it, but it seems like Blue Harvest (, via Shawn Cornally) might be an efficient system for keeping track of evidence digitally, as well as give feedback on said digital evidence.
    I also think this might be an ideal opportunity for including other forms of assessments that could be considered evidence for targets/standards (read: projects?). Not sure what Matt and Stacy think about that, but it might open it up for students to be more creative in how they choose to show their mastery.

  2. I did this at the end this year. Some students hadn't passed some skills and instead of giving them more tests I asked them to gather evidence, they did and I changed their grades. One girl just wanted to show me on the board that she could find the volume and surface area of a cone. For some reason she couldn't do it on paper. I tried Blue Harvest but it didn't work well when I had a large number of students, so I gave up, it was too time consuming, I may take another look though, I tried it when it was brand new.