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A closer look into the Learner Portfolio

 Anna Author bio

Response journals, process journals and writing journals have been around for a while. Are they necessary for assessment? Making sure that the students read the material? Giving teachers a groundhold for classroom discussions? The answer is all of the above. However, what these types of journals do not always do is capture the learning process in a holistic way, with all its pedagogical implications and practical necessities. How do teachers know what students know? And how do students know what they know and how they know it? Very pertinent (ToK) questions with –possibly- very interesting answers with very interesting implications. Enter the Learner Portfolio.

In the heart of the new curriculum that IB Language A teachers are looking forward to in 2019 one can find the Learner Portfolio, an idea that is not totally new, yet it is highly innovative in its simplicity and the ways it can be put to use. The Learner Portfolio is a combination of several types of journals, a notebook and an assignment folder. As such it will become a learning space for the students, digital or not. Whether one teaches in the IB or not, the challenge of ‘teaching’ a work, and then another and another and another while trying to create a sense of connection and overarching significance of the literary experience for young minds may be familiar. And whether one is averse to change or craving change, all teachers are keen on improving the teaching and learning experience and the Learner Portfolio can lead them in that direction. Its purpose and uses are several:

1. It documents the classroom experience.
2. It evidences the reading and writing process, and learning in general.
3. It can help teachers identify the learning challenges of their students.
4. It is a space for the generation of ideas which often evaporate once class is finished.
5. It helps teachers with assessment decisions.
6. It is an instrument to use for the authentication of students’ work in case that is needed.
7. It can be an opportunity for teachers to reflect on their practice.
8. It can support collaboration among teachers.


What can a student include in her portfolio? Well, practically everything and more:
• Note-taking and note-making
• Reflections on texts and on learning
• Responses to texts in free prose
• Sketches and drawings
• Mind maps
• Proposal and drafts for assessments
• Formative assessments
• Peer and teacher feedback
• Self-assessment notes
• Creative writing
• Sticky notes (who does not love sticky notes?)

It is certain that there will be more questions, ideas, suggestions, and recommendations once students and teachers start using the Learner Portfolio. For example, how will it be used in the classroom? Should teachers put aside some class time for students to share portfolios or offer feedback? Will students prefer the digital version and would that impact the contents of the portfolio in any way? How often should students reflect on their portfolio work? Like most ideas worth pursuing, the Learner Portfolio can evolve as learning evolves, and that is a testament to the possibilities of our creativity and imagination. 

 

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