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Data Binders and Portfolios

Data Binders and Portfolios

Author: Kathleen Johnson

In this lesson, you will learn about student-centered tools that help students self-assess and monitor their own progress in learning.

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Source: Digital Access Key Image; Morgue File;

Video Transcription

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Hello, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you're having a wonderful day today. Today we're going to go ahead and take a look at the use of data binders and portfolios within the classroom, a little bit about what they are as well as some of the benefits to using them in your class. And for today's lesson, I've chosen a quote by Benjamin Franklin which states, an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

Now, by the time we're done with the lesson today, as I foreshadowed before, you are going to be able to discuss the benefits of student portfolios as well as data binders. So let's dive right in. First I want to focus in on portfolios. Now, portfolios are really a collection of student work. It is a collection that really represents the student work toward a particular area of performance within the classroom.

Portfolios in classrooms today tend to be derived from the visual or the performing arts when students would create a number of different works within a medium and then bring them all together so that you could see their progress throughout. They now serve as a showcase to help display the accomplishments not just of artists, but as well of students in the classroom choosing their favorite works and really putting that forward.

Portfolios today can be folders that have the students' best pieces from that class in it. It could include their student evaluations, some of the strengths or weaknesses that they see in the own work that they've done. It could be a digital presentation containing one or more works in progress that help really display what the student has done and what they are continuing to work on, so perhaps an essay as it goes through the various stages, the outline and then the draft and then the final, and then perhaps a revision that was done even after that, or many different ways. So these portfolios within the classroom can be demonstrated multiple different ways.

The real benefits of portfolios is that they help to promote that deeper learning. So students are not just creating and completing the tasks that you have set out in your learning plans, but they're also then, at the end, as we talk about reflection, gathering all of that together and having them really focus in on not only what they've been able to do over the course of a particular class or year, but also then to go back and self-assess what they've done. And that really helps to prepare students for their colleges and careers later in life, that kind of deeper learning with what it is that they've done over the particular time.

Also, portfolios really help to encourage student choice and voice. So students are the ones that get to include those pieces from the class that are the most meaningful to them. They are able to kind of pick and choose amongst all of the work that they've done, and that really allows the students the opportunity to, again, take ownership over the learning path that they've taken over the course of a year.

Now I want to focus in just a little bit on data binders. Data binders are kind of like the portfolios of the 21st century. So whereas in more standards-based education, teachers would use portfolios as a way to help monitor a student's progress and then to help the students self-assess and reflect, current assessment models and the idea of having students being more accountable for their learning has them using data binders throughout, having students use that notebook, a student-maintained notebook where they can track their progress, where they can include those self-assessments, and where they can really set goals for themselves.

A data binder is an actual notebook that each student is going to maintain, and it really includes, first and foremost, the students setting and tracking those learning goals and their objectives. Students are documenting what these are as well as then showing their progress towards meeting these. So students are writing down what these goals and objectives are. And that can be very motivating for students to put down on paper what it is that their goal is and then to be able to track their achievement of some of those long-term goals over time.

Also, data binders can contain the formative assessments and then the charts of that student progress through those formative assessments, again, helping students to indicate the progress that they are making through charts and graphs and the actual visual representation of that formative assessment so that they're able to see the progress that they're making right in front of them. Data binders are really empowering for students because they take that accountability out of the hands of the educators and really put it into the hands of the students. So the student as an individual is taking power over their own learning and education.

So I want to note right here at the very end that data binders can be really important for student learning, as they help to provide that evidence for students. So students could say, but I feel like I know this. Well, let's look at the evidence. Have you learned this? What is the progress that you're making on these competencies? You have it right in front of you so that you can take ownership over this.

They also allow that feedback for the student that we talked about with the portfolios. So students can track that progress. They get the feedback on their learning styles and which areas of competencies where they are able to master in different ways, and then they can share that with their parents as a way to really help discuss the progress that they're making and including everyone in that conversation.

Now that we've reached the end of this lesson, you've been able to really discuss what student portfolios and data binders are as well as some of the benefits that they can offer students and parents in your classroom. Now that we've reached the end of the lesson, I want to take just a moment for reflection. I want you to think back over what you've learned about portfolios and data binders and ask yourself, what do you think would be the first step that you would take to incorporate either a portfolio or a data binder into your learning environment?

As you reflect on how that new information can be applied, you might want to explore the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find those links to resources that were chosen to help you deepen your learning and really explore different ways that you can apply your newly acquired skillset.

Notes on "Data Binders and Portfolios"

(00:00-00:23) Intro

(00:24-00:34) Objectives

(00:35-03:06) Portfolios

(03:07-05:48) Data Binders

(05:49-06:42) Review & Reflection

Additional Resources

Montgomery County Public Schools: Quality Tools for the Classroom

Scroll down to click on templates for data tracking charts to use with the whole class or with individual students as part of their data binders.

Ms. Noonan: Making Students into Better Writers

This Teaching Channel video is a great example of the use of a portfolio to increase student ownership and achievement.