Michigan Portfolios
  • Mar8

    Students, teacher, and computers

    Welcome to the National Writing Projects of Michigan (NWPM) Portfolio Writing Assessment Website.  This site is intended to serve educators who are part of National Writing Project work in Michigan, but it is also designed and intended to serve other interested educators within and beyond Michigan borders.

    NWPM is made up of 11 sites throughout the state, all affiliated with the National Writing Project, whose home base is in Berkeley, California.

    Editors of the Michigan Portfolios Website are:

    • Richard Koch, Adrian College, Director, Michigan Portfolios Website
    • Jean Petterson, Adrian Public Schools, Assistant Site Director
    • Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University
    • Andrea Zellner, Michigan State University
  • Feb16

    Core understandings in the work of Michigan Portfolios research group

    I want to call your attention to the work of educators labeled “Portfolio Group” on this website. This is a team of teacher researchers revising their classrooms on behalf of portfolio and digital portfolio writing assessment. Right now eighth grade teacher Jessica Cleland has posted the goals of her research and also some student portfolio examples. Other teacher researchers and their student portfolios will soon appear. I believe this portfolio assessment research by teachers can be a powerful guide for us all.

    Understanding the power of portfolios:

    With respect to our work in this Michigan Portfolios Teacher Research Group:

    1. We understand that portfolio assessment can close the loop of workshop practice in a positive way by combining successful instruction with authentic assessment for student work.
    2. We realize that in the U. S. today assessment is “the tail that wags the dog” of education overall. Portfolios can help us wag the dog toward humane and productive educational practices.
    3. We are aware that appropriate authentic assessment awakens us:
      1. To what students are actually achieving
      2. To what students need as learners

    Working from the right frame:

    In his recent book Finnish Lessons Pasi Sahlberg clarifies that standards and tests are not the “right frame” for describing successful teaching and learning. Instead, if we were to learn from the high achievement of Finland’s students we would begin by feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. Our society has misconstrued “free enterprise” as a command to not help others. As a result more than 25 per cent of U. S. children are facing what the Children’s Defense Fund calls “food insecurity.” And, in this richest nation in the history of the planet our largest homeless populations are women and children. Humane thinkers on education would begin by meeting these needs.

    Learning further from Finland, we would devote ourselves to offering engaging learning opportunities and to building a supportive platform for learning under all students rather than being primarily concerned to pressure and judge them.

    Portfolios are one of the educational tools that can take us in this direction. Portfolios of student writing construct a potential positive environment in which teacher and peers can coach writing more effectively and in which student growth can be noticed and supported over time.

  • Apr21

    Three Key Ideas:  Engagement, Project-Based Learning, and Feedback

    As I write this Exxon-Mobil is running a series of television advertisements purporting to be on behalf of American education.  One of these ads asserts that because 45 states have subscribed to the Common Core Standards students in our country will now have better success in higher education and in careers.  Of course, this is what the Introduction to the Common Core also asserts—commitment to the Core will lead, they say, to “college and career readiness.”
    Read More

  • Aug13

    As director of the Michigan Portfolios website, my special interest in the Common Core is the assessments that will travel with it.  This is the part that is quite up in the air and may not be resolved until 2012-2013 in terms of implementation.  However, if we can consider together both the Core Standards as written and the early descriptions of what kinds of tests may accompany them, I have three basic concerns about the new Common Core.

    First, let me acknowledge, I view standards and testing to be a failed method of improving U. S. education.  Standards and standardized tests have been around for quite awhile now, well before the establishment of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002.  However, NCLB directly represented itself to be about standards, the tests by which standards would be measured, and the prescribed consequences for schools that did not “achieve” under these guidelines.  Many people who write and think about this date mark it as a remarkable heightening of “pressure” related to testing and so-called achievement. Read More

  • Nov26

  • Nov26

  • Nov26

    Project Title: Digital Portfolios in the Classroom — A Teacher Research Project

    Jessica Cleland
    Language Arts 8/Honors Language Arts 9
    Clarkston Junior High School

    Why Portfolios are Important

    Four years ago, implementing digital portfolios in the classroom became one of my most important educational endeavors. The most exciting thing for me about the use of digital portfolios is to see the pride students have about their growth as readers, writers and thinkers throughout the school year.  It is also exciting to see the parents’ reactions to their child’s growth throughout the school year.  However, the most significant thing for me is the knowledge that the work I am doing is critical in propelling the conversation forward about the way we assess students’ learning.

    Read More

  • Aug7

    Liam is interviewed about his Fourth Grade Writing

  • Aug7

    Ashante is interviewed about her Fourth Grade Writing

  • Apr16


    We think portfolios are “state of the art” assessment practice, so we are delighted to bring you “Michigan Portfolios” from the National Writing Projects of Michigan. Portfolios are, as we say elsewhere on the site, “meaningful collections of student work.”  In our case, we are talking about meaningful collections of student writing.  Portfolios compiled from classroom work can show what students are able to do far better than tests.  Portfolios can make it possible for all stakeholders to see how our learners are doing.  Portfolios can make it possible for schools to “showcase” the best their students can do and also to “document growth” over time powerfully and helpfully.

    Read More