In our ongoing meeting of Portfolio Development and Career Pathways, we planned a Presentation Day for Middle-School during our School Assembly, and finalized a Portfolio Feedback Day for our High School Students.
Portfolio Day / Presentation Plans
The past month, we have been discussing plans for a middle-school and High-school Portfolio presentation day, in order to share making, art and design work, and its documentation, with students and peers. For Middle-school the presentation is schedule for the 17th of November during Assembly, starting at 2.45 pm. Amy Dobras, the middle-school Making teacher, will have 2-3 students present their digital portfolios that they have been working on for the past quarter. These blogs, created through Google Sites, include written reflections (based on prompts given by Ms. Dobras) and visual documentation. Ms. Dobras was keen on letting students reflect on any challenges, and to elaborate on what they had to grapple with, providing them with a chance to reflect on the iterative qualities of the design process.
For High-school Making and Robotics classes, we scheduled a “Portfolio Day”, in which we have invited professionals from different fields (art, design, engineering) to come in and provide feedback to students on their reflections, and to demonstrate real-life scenarios of portfolio work. Half a dozen professionals attended the two sessions, coming from diverse backgrounds such as engineering, architecture, art and fashion design.
For each class the students were introduced to what makes a good portfolio, and were shown creative, professional digital examples to inspire them. Each professional volunteer gave their own insight on what makes a portfolio stand out in a work environment or even for a college application.
Each volunteer, throughout the two classes, provided 1-1 feedback with the students on their digital blogs created on Google Sites. Following written prompts, the professionals gave constructive critique on how clearly the students represent their project through the site, whether they demonstrate their ideas and designs effectively, and how well their personality comes through. We found overall that:
- The majority of the students were able to keep up quite consistently with their reflections and produced exciting projects, albeit sometimes lacking in visual documentation. Photos are a key part of the reflection, and portfolios should always have them. The “picture is worth a thousand words” adage is correct!
- The students should be encouraged more to talk about what they learned from their success and mistakes, prompting self-critique, and analysing the iterations of their projects. The High School Robotics Teacher in particular stressed the importance of students creating meaningful projects that truly represent them, and that allow their personality to show through. Portfolios are documents that should reflect the student’s ideas, thinking and problem solving, but should also be a space for reflection and growth.
- Although for now the blogs include a number of projects, possibly the final presentation or assessment should be for a select few, maybe chosen by the students. A portfolio is less a complete diary of work than it is a highlight of specific experience. Giving them the choice of what to present might give the chance to discover what they really liked about the class.
More detailed information about portfolios can be found here.
Overall, having volunteers and a review process at this stage, in which students were still in creating their portfolios, worked really well. Individual feedback from the volunteers was extremely insightful and valuable. Every student had personal interactions with community members, which made the process more authentic.
More portfolio days will hopefully be scheduled further on in the school year, across different classes, possibly even lead by those students who have received feedback this month.
Anna Milada Grossi is currently an Americorps VISTA Project Coordinator, serving through MakerEd at Lighthouse Community Public School. She is assisting in the Making, Art, Design and Lighthouse Creativity Lab Programs.