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Selecting the Writing for the Portfolio The selection process begins early in the year, as well.

Sometime during the first couple of weeks of school, after we have read and discussed several essays, a few poems, and a story or two, I ask students to go home and write down a list of what they think good writing should exhibit or do.

The next day students bring in their lists, and someone in class writes down their ideas on the chalkboard. Some are listed more than once and duly noted on the board.

Once the standards are agreed on, we recopy them on poster board and post them in a prominent place in the room.

Students also write them inside their notebooks so they have access to them at all times. These criteria are important in the portfolio process because the qualities of effective writing that students generate are used throughout the year for self-assessment. Every six weeks I target specific criteria for minilesson topics in our workshop.

In this way, assessment and learning go hand in hand, and the assessment has come from the inside instead of the outside. Students are more likely where to buy college papers to accept the necessity of writing well when they have played a vital role in determining how high the bar is going to be set and what it is going to be made of.

As a matter of fact, as the year progresses we revisit the criteria and reflect on their continued viability within our community. Usually, the criteria are strength- ened as a result of our ongoing reading, writing, and discussing of various professional and student texts. When the criteria are revised, they are changed on the posters, in the folders, and in my lesson plans. The students come to see the value of reflection and revision if the changes really occur. While I could rely solely on the writing criteria set by the Kentucky Writing Program, I find that my us based essay writing service students benefit from being involved in developing, discussing, and assessing their own criteria. Also, while the state standards are valid to a large de- gree, they do not take into account particular teaching contexts. I teach in the same school and the same room every year, but the students change every year and every period of the day within a year. Student Reflection If one stage of the portfolio process is more important than any other, it would be the student reflection on the criteria in order to - 279 - 3 05 TEACHER RESPONSE AND ASSESSMENT select writing for the portfolio. They do this every six weeks so that they develop a practice of reflection and selection within the parameters of the standards we have set.

The more they look at the qualities of effective writing and the more they read and re- read their own writing, the more internalized the criteria are likely to become.

This reflection takes written form in a cover letter to the reader of the portfolio. This reader may be another student, a parent, the teacher, or a student in another class or even another school, depending on the time of year.

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Students know from the beginning that I will read the final portfolio of each semester for grade purposes but that the first-semester grade is based largely on process effort and not on final quality.

They know that the final grade for their year of writing will be the ultimate summative grade of the portfolio. I deemphasize grades so much because I have found that all real revision and reflection come to an abrupt halt when a final grade is placed on any piece of writing or an entire portfolio. I stress to my students that all interim grades throughout the year are merely progress reports of their general effort in class, not of the quality of their writing, which can always be improved on. If they wish, students can revisit in the last six weeks a piece that was completed in the first six weeks. And the writing in their port- folios takes many different where to buy college papers forms from student to student. One student might have a portfolio with several poems and only one essay. Another might have a portfolio full of editorials and one short story. Genres vary from student to student, as do their top- ics, their purposes, and their audiences. This variety is another reason that portfolios make a more logical choice for my teach- ing.

They support the diversity of thought and language I have come to value as a reader and a writer.

It may sound like a god-awful mess, but the standards in each class (and they do vary some from class to class) give the portfolio process a structure for both students and teacher.

Throughout each six-week period, I keep track of those criteria I have covered in minilessons and those the class has covered in seminar discussions.

I try to keep these to a workable number so that students can focus on improving those specific skills. When it is time to write the cover letter, I give them a list of framing questions pulled from this list I have been keep- ing. These letters are also helpful when I begin to conference with each student.

If a student has written in the letter that she where to buy college papers had trouble organizing an essay she selected, I can read the essay especially for its degree of organizational success. If the student was incorrect in her evaluation, I can show her where she organized well, but most of the time students are right about what they can do well and what they need help with. Using the letter as a conference tool has helped me focus my reading of the portfolios (which otherwise can become a time- intensive ordeal) and focus my responses during conferences so that students can develop a realistic plan for the coming term and the writing we are going to do. Final Reflection If I have made it sound as though portfolios will solve all prob- lems with grading student writing, I apologize. This practice has evolved over the ten years I have been using portfolios, both state- required and teacher-and-student-devised.

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