StoneSoup Portfolio Questions Teachers define how much material one portfolio unit covers. A portfolio unit can cover 1 day’s lesson, a lesson unit or a semester long class. A unit consists of a title and an answer to one or more of the questions listed below. The notes in italics illustrate a few of the ways portfolio units can be connected to Standards Benchmarks and also be used to practice District 11s Six Traits of Good Writing. The questions can be answered using a pencil and paper. However, the labels that begin each question area match the labels on the StoneSoup Webform. Students use the Webform creates digital portfolio units.
- Teachers can assign a title for the entire class or have students make up their own unit titles. Questions make great titles. An example might be “How did newspapers influence the American Revolution?”(History Standard IV, Benchmark B)
Ask students what they already know about the lesson. This gives students a chance to write using a personal voice and to practice logical sequencing (Six Traits and Writing Standard 1 Benchmark C)
Ask students about materials they have read related to this unit. This can be used to practice writing citations (Writing Standard V Benchmark E). It can also be used to demonstrate that students are using critical thinking skills when selecting materials (Reading Standards IV & V). Example: for Civics Class, students might cite newspaper editorials and congressional debates where the impact of the NAFTA agreement is discussed (Civics Standard III Benchmark C).
What other resources do students use? Have them enter locations of web sites (URLs), or names of videos, TV shows, CDROMS, pictures, etc. If students enter the URLs into the Webform like this: http://inquiry.uiuc.edu, teachers will be able to click on the link and view the resource. (Hint: have students cut and paste the address from the "location" or "address" bar on the web browser.)
Ask students to describe the most interesting or helpful assignments they did for this lesson unit. Students can describe group work, lab experiments, data gathering, tools they used or a set of instructions. Encourage students to use vocabulary words related to the subject area (Six Traits). Example: a student might describe a field trip to Beidleman Environmental Center (Science Standard 111 Benchmark A.
Have students describe one or more essays, stories, poems, etc., that they wrote for this unit. This is an exercise in writing an abstract. Students can use a process writing approach to produce a concise paragraph (Writing Standard 11 Benchmark B). If the piece is on the school web server, students can include the URL.
Did a student create a set of instructions, a tutorial, an experiment, or an activity? If so, have the student share it or describe it here. Example: a student might provide a set of instructions for using a calculator to plot a standard curve (Mathematics Standard 11 Benchmark C).
If a student created a presentation, it can be described or linked here. This could be a slide show, videos, photos, drawings, Web pages, or even a performance. Example: a student might link a slide show demonstrating the phases of the moon and the affect on ocean tides (Science Standard IV Benchmark C).
- New Questions:
Have students come up with new questions. Have them write the question here. If the question leads to a new portfolio unit, have the student link to it. Example: a student might ask the question “How would an massive algae bloom in the Pacific Ocean affect world trade?” (Geography Standard IV Benchmark C)
Ask students if they have discussed course work with their family, friends, classmates or group members. Example: a student can describe a conversation with parents where they discussed how to determine the gas mileage of the family car (Mathematics Standard V). Or have a student describe his/her role in a group project where students discussed how family structures changed between 1950 and 2000 (History Standard 111 Benchmark B).
Did the student talk to any subject matter experts? Discussions can occur in-person, over the phone or by email. Ask the student to identify the expert and include contact information such as phone numbers or e-mail addresses. Have them briefly describe what they talked about and how it related to the lesson unit (Writing Standard V Benchmark C). Example: a student might report on a conversation with a city council member concerning the timeline for the implementation of cable Internet service in Colorado Springs (Civics Standard II Benchmark A).
Ask students about individual discussions they had with you, other teachers, coaches or librarians that led to deeper understanding of a lesson unit. This gives students a chance to recount what they took away from the discussion. Example: a student might need to talk to a math teacher to understand how to interpret a demographic table displaying age distribution of the population of the U.S. versus Japan (Mathematics Standard V11 and Geography Standard 11 Benchmark A).
Ask the student to write a brief summary description of the entire lesson unit (Writing Standard 1V Benchmark C).
- Story: Ask the student to tell the story of the unit. This calls for a narrative style and a personal voice (Six Traits). Have the student describe what s/he would you do differently and what worked well.
- Responses: A teacher can use this item to give feedback about the overall unit. An alternative activity, when appropriate, is to have a student describe reactions to any aspect of the activities described in the portfolio unit.
A completed unit meets Writing Standard V Benchmark F.