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In this section you will find evaluation tools and organizers to inspire and guide you in your portfolio practice. They have been created with specific students and classrooms in mind, so you will need to adapt them to your own needs and style.

Some organizers:

Sample Self-Evaluation Questions


General questions are used for students to self-evaluate freely on an artifact of their choice.

  • Why did you select this piece for your portfolio?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Why does this piece deserve to be in your portfolio?
  • What would you do differently if you did this over? Why?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses in this sample?
  • What problems or obstacles did you experience when creating this piece?
  • How would you overcome these problems or obstacles next time?

Portfolio as a whole:

  • What was the most challenging assignment that you have included in your portfolio? Why was it challenging? How did you deal with the challenges? What was the outcome?
  • What piece are you proudest of? Why? Please offer quotes from your piece and support with details about quality writing.
  • What assignment did you learn the most from this year? What did you learn? Why do you value this learning?
  • Looking at your work as a whole, what do you plan to focus on in English class next year? What are your goals?
  • Is there anything that you accomplished this year that surprised you? What? Why does it surprise you?
  • What assignment was the easiest for you? Why? What does that suggest about you? Is this your best work? Why or why not?
  • At this point in your writing, what can you do as a writer that you could not do before? Please offer concrete details about quality writing, writing process, response etc.
  • Look at your portfolio as a whole. What are your strengths as a writer? Please offer concrete details.
  • Write a free verse piece that reflects what you have learned in English class this year. Try to include skills as a learner, not only content.

Writing Pieces:

Writing pieces include various genres of writing but exclude: journals and poetry which have their own self-evaluation questions.

  • What is your definition of "good" writing? How does this piece reflect "good" writing?
  • How did you go about completing this piece? (Talking, brainstorming, planning, webbing, etc..)
  • What genre is this piece? What did you learn about this genre that you applied in your writing?
  • What changes have you noticed in your use of grammar, vocabulary and spelling? How did these changes influence your piece?
  • How did your selection change from rough draft to final copy?
  • Which piece allowed you to learn the most about about yourself as a writer? What did you learn?
  • What changes did you make to this piece to improve it?
  • Look at your rough drafts and at your final drafts. Did you rewrite your unclear parts, peer or self-edit your grammar and spelling, add stuff? Tell me what you did to make it better?
  • What else could be added to this piece to add to the writing process?
  • What did you learn about writing from writing this piece?
  • Write a one sentence summary for each paragraph to explain how you developed the theme.
  • What literary devices have used in this piece? (similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration, foreshadowing, etc...). Make a list and give an example of each from your piece.
  • Does any piece in your portfolio make a direct connection with something you read? Which piece? How does it connect to the piece of literature?
  • Have you taken a risk as a writer this year? (written something different, longer, more difficult...) Why? Why not?


Preparing for a Student-Teacher conference: some guidelines for teachers

Student-Teacher Portfolio Conference (adapted from Farr & Tone, 1998)

A portfolio conference is the primary opportunity for the vital discussions and review of ideas that are the heart of the portfolio process.

The key to conferencing is creating a comfortable environment in which the student can ask questions on a one on one basis with their teacher.

Ways to think about conferencing:

  • conferencing brings up questions about the portfolio content and brings the portfolio into clearer focus;
  • conferencing settles organizational problems and gives the student and teacher time to work on this skill;
  • conferencing encourages analysis, comparisons of pieces of student's own work;
  • conferencing provides for individualized learning and lends itself to the development of IEP's;
  • conferencing can generate clear goals for both the student and teacher.

Getting Clear Direction out of the Conference

With the conference, you want to:

  • Help the student to reflect about his/her own reading and writing activities; to understand language use as a process; and to assume responsibility for his/her own improvement.
  • Learn all you can about a student's ideas, reading and writing interests, habits, overall abilities, attitudes toward language, and development as a language learner.
  • Establish some self-directed goals for language development and set instructional priorities that will help them meet them.

Conference Schedules

Create a time schedule where the students can sign up to meet with the teacher. 10-15 minutes would be the goal for beginning conferences.

However, a quick discussion on a regular basis with each student, this can be as short as a minute, ensures the students are on the right track with their learning.

Suggestions in relation to managing conferences

  • Conference with a few students each week, this will prevent the end of term crunch.
  • Invite your volunteer parents to read to the group while you conference with students.
  • Include the resource teacher, s/he can work with larger groups while you conference.
  • Conference with small groups of students instead of one-on-one.
  • Conferencing during library periods, where the students understand their role and can be assisted by the librarians and you are then free to have a few moments to meet with various students.

Let us know what classroom strategies you use to manage conferences!
Write to: portfolio@learnquebec.ca


Questions to ask about writing

How did you organize your portfolio?

  • Why did you organize it this way?
  • How did you decide what pieces should be submitted?
  • What ideas did you consider as important?

Tell me about a piece of writing:

  • Why did you select this piece?
  • Why is this piece of writing important to you?
  • Why did you decide to write this?
  • Where did you get this idea?
  • Would you like to read it to me?
  • Did you have any problems writing this?
  • Did anyone help you with your writing?
  • In what way did they help you?
  • What was the easiest/hardest part when writing this piece?
  • Who did you write this for?
  • Have you tried writing any different pieces (genres) such as stories, letters, notes, journals?
  • Did you try something new this term?
  • Did you seek any help when writing this?

How have you progressed as a writer since your first submission?

  • Tell me about one new thing that you have learned about writing
  • What is different about the things that you wrote this time?
  • Have you tried any different types of writing?

What are you intending to write next?

  • How can I help you with this?
  • How do you plan to start?
  • Is there someone with whom you would like to work?

Did you work on your goal this term?