Homeschool Portfolios : The Process and the Product

 

A  week or so ago, I had posted this photo on the Homeschoolers of the Philippines Facebook page.  Little did I know that it would end up as my being “MOST LIKED” post ever since setting this Homeschool FB Group early last year.

Thank you for the 202 likes on Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page!
Thank you for the 202 likes on Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page!

I had been summer cleaning lately, and decided to unearth these from storage boxes. I realized that this was like our HomesCools version of a “Trophy Cabinet”. I didn’t expect the overwhelming, positive feedback in seeing all this displayed in such a manner. But then again, like they say, “When the going gets tough, always look up. ” I love looking up at these and marveling at God’s faithfulness and the blessed opportunity to homeschool, and remembering the good and the bad days captured in every page of these binders. I also didn’t expect the flood of inquiries regarding ” portfolios and how to create them”. So I decided to just open the Trophy Cabinet of the Simpao HomesCool and share with you our portfolio experience through the years.

To date, we’ve done more that 50 quarterly porfolios for the four Simpao children. As mentioned, they’ve been recently displayed and arranged by child in one of our big shelves. I can’t wait to have unhurried time to look again at these, page by page.

From simple title pages to amazing works of Art
From simple title pages to amazing works of Art

 

Not all homeschoolers are required to present portfolios. However, I do see the immeasurable value of chronicling your journey in this manner. Some may opt for the traditional 2-3 ring binder, a clear file folder or a scrapbook. Others may do digital “electronic” or “e-porfolio.”

I was an independent homeschooler for around five years and so just kept our homeschool output in bins/ folders. I wasn’t keeping them for any requirement but I just knew it was worth keeping for a whole number of reasons.

As we opted to accredit with the Department of Education, I was faced with the humongous task of collating four years worth of “homeschooling” as requirement for validation tests (I don’t think this in required now) for my eldest who completed level 3 and 2nd son who competed level 1. Could you imagine my stress and horror at that time? As I was trying to beat the deadline, I kept asking myself, “Why or why, didn’t I ‘document’ our homeschooling work in an organized and timely manner?” During this time, we did everything the ‘hard’ way, or should I say that “hard copy” way? No digital reports yet. Projects, seatworks, tests, artworks, and printed photos were all in a giant 3 ring binder. Call it a CRASH course on making portofolios! And yes, I almost actually CRASHED due to fatigue, stress and exhaustion.

I truly praise God back then because He gave me a partner in crime. One who has doing a portfolio for six years (yes plus 2 years to my load!!!)worth of “homeschooling”,  my homeschooling BFF, Cielo Vilchez. That experience bonded us, I believe, for life!

Oh my, that experience brings so much laughter (and the never again tears) as we try to recall, those days of unearthing and filing work! And the most hilarious day was when we went to meet with the Dep-Ed officials with our trolleys of balikbayan boxes and suitcases of textbooks, workbooks, projects, folders and binders! Imagine having to ask two passionate, self-sacrifing mothers to defend that learning has indeed taken place as they’ve given up their lives to homeschool their children? It is surprising we didn’t bring our shotguns instead (Just kidding here)!

Part of the of my homeschool provider’s (The Master’s Academy) requirements is a regular portfolio review/assessment where the child will present what he has learned and applied the past quarter. As he/she presents, her projects are considered part of the “evidence” that indeed learning has transpired and the child was able to create some output as an application of his lessons per subject.

I have never attended any seminars in creating portfolios. I guess that CRASH course six years ago taught enough for me to survive and eventually enjoy quarterly portfolios for the years to come. Many more came as many more children came as well!

If we we’re not required to make a portfolio, would we still make one? We would probably still do but there would be no “external pressure or deadline” for which we are thankful to TMA for. We need that pressure, otherwise, just like any other scrapbook or family project, these  will just be shelved when Mommy teacher has more “free” time (which we never have!) to put them together. With a quarterly set up, it is actually the children who do the bulk of their portfolos. Teacher Mommy just guides them.

Let’s discuss the “basics” of porfolios in the form of questions.

What is a homeschooling portfolio?

It is a summary or collection of “learning” that has transpired in homeschooling as seen in: seat works, quizzes, tests, essays, and projects (where learned lessons are applied). The assumption here is that learning to some extent can be considered as “having transpired” as seen in these “evidences”. (So, it does not make sense for a parent to labor and lose sleep over “creating” his/ her student’s portfolio because it is not the parent’s work, effort or “learning” that is being assessed here, it is the child’s). Some regard portfolios as a way to record the student’s educational progress.

For those who need to present their portfolios, consultants who interview students don’t focus on “fact questions”, rather they give the students the opportunity to share what they have learned and to explain the ways in which they have applied these lessons in projects or even in real life. 

What do you need to create a portfolio (hard copy/electronic)?

  • 3 ring binder (have found this easiest to use for both young and older kids)
  • Subject dividers with labels – Let the kids label them!
  • 3 ring plastic jackets (bond size or A4)
  • 3 holed puncher
  • A cover page (could be done by the children) as title page
  • An easily accessible gadget to take photos during homeschool time
  • Homeschooling photos
  • A document/file that can showcase these photos (Pages, Powerpoint)
  • For those who have regular portfolio presentations: Laptop or flash drive and borrow your consultant’s laptop
  • Tests, worksheets,  essays, book reports, experiment reports, artwork, notebook or journal pages, tickets or programs to field trips, museums, plays and musicals etc.

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3 ring binders are the easiest to use as you can easily arrange and update as you go along.
3 ring binders are the easiest to use as you can easily arrange and update as you go along.

A subject may have 2-3 seat works, 2-3 tests/assessments and written work/project related to the lessons covered. Some projects can involve many subjects.

Here are some sample materials that you can you include,  Some may be added directly using a 3-holed puncher or you may opt to use plastic page protectors.

1. Tests/Quizzes/Seat works

Portfolios23

Some tests/ quizzes

2. Extraordinary Ways of Note-taking

Some interesting ways to take notes.
Some interesting ways to take notes.

Portfolios03Portfolios09

 

Portfolios12 Portfolios13

3. Travel Journals

Portfolios07

Traveling Paraphernalia

Portfolios05

4. Written Essays/ Poems/Stories

Portfolios37
Summary of Books Read

 

Portfolios22
Another way to summarize a book:)
Portfolios20
Poems of favorite things
Portfolios08
Creative Writing exercises

5. Charts/ Tables

Portfolios33
Chore Chart

Portfolios26

6. Special Projects

Portfolios15 Portfolios14

"Jupiter News" - A newspaper project
“Jupiter News” – A newspaper project
Page 2 of the newspaper
Page 2 of the newspaper

7. Certificates/Awards

Portfolios32

How are portfolios divided?

A portfolio is divided into different subjects. It would be good to purchase or make “dividers “ using board paper or recycled paper products. Label these dividers. Most binders can hold 1-2 quarters.

Schedule wise, I prefer submitting and presenting on a quarterly (8-10 week) basis. I find that a quarter’s worth of lessons are just enough for the child to present in a smooth, relaxed and non-overwhelming manner.  There is just too much to present in 2 quarters, either the child is overwhelmed or there is not enough time to properly report about the lessons learned.

Portfolio reviews are good because it gives the child opportunity to speak, to summarize, to be confident in discussing and to sort of “tie up” the whole quarter together as he reports his past 8-10 week. Don’t they say that “learning” has indeed occurred when a student can “teach” back what he has learned?

Who does the portfolios?

The student.

Generally, younger children like preschool and levels 1, 2 will need some guidance and help in preparing their portfolios. Older children may also create e-portfolios alongside. Powerpoint/Pages can be used to document photos of experiments, lessons, field trips, travels and projects too complicated to bring to the review. This can be tied up with ART/ HELE in using a software to create presentations. Videos of PE, Music lessons, games or recitals can be inserted as well. The student may use his electronic portfolio as he presents his 3 ring binder portfolio.

Parents should refrain from “creating” their student’s portfolios. Smaller children may need help and we give it as we deem appropriate.

When do you do portfolios?

The key is to ready the binder/folder, dividers and plastic sheets so you can file as you go. Some however, may opt to put all output in like envelopes and just file all in one go. It really depends on what works for you. But for proper organization, portfolio material needs to be easily accessible and arranged in an orderly manner. There is nothing more frustrating that losing important material that documents the student’s progress!

I guess one  thing I  may have failed to do so was to to talk to children about portfolio making. Sorry!!! I think, they just learned the ropes as I guided them to build them through the years. Looking back, it would be good to explain your students a few “must knows” about portfolios 🙂

I really, really hope this helped.  Remember, when the going gets tough, always look UP!

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.