The difference between a Writing Folder and a Portfolio (No, they are not the same thing.)

What is a Writing Folder?

The writing folder is a formative collection of your students’ best work at that moment in their learning. In line with my core value of writing as evidence of thought, consider your student writing folder as their long-term memory. In it, each writing piece, along with the various revisions and teacher commentary, waits to be recalled later.

What should be in a Writing Folder?

The basic components of your student writing folder should have: essay draft collections (as described above), the teacher/student conference chart (see Resources), and any relevant rubrics. The writing folder is not a receptacle for homework sheets, anticipatory set activities, or any other nonsense. There should be no clutter.

What is a Student Portfolio?

The student portfolio is a summative activity that happens at the end of a school year. Although it can take many forms, within the portfolio, students review and revise pieces found in their writing folder. Students are tasked with performing an involved self-assessment, which includes a cover letter, a written commentary on each selected piece, and a spotlighted piece for revision. By the end of a school year, each student should be able to articulate how far they have grown through the analysis of quality of their past writing.

Directions for assigning a portfolio can be found here: 7th Grade Writing & Reading Portfolio 7th Grade Portfolio Assessment

The Line Blurs between Formative and Summative

Nothing truly ends.  If you have the opportunity to work with other professionals in your district, then you can forward each student’s portfolio to the next grade level.   This will turn the summative portfolio into a formative tool for the teacher who has this child the following year.  If not, then the student can take their portfolio home as a symbol of their efforts.

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