A presentation at the art education conference this week was on just that topic. Lucky for me, it was presented by a teacher in my county, Libya Doman. I could see very directly how to make the portfolio work with the curriculum I teach.
One thing that she did that I hadn't considered before was to have different portfolios for each unit of study. This way you are not keeping massive amounts of paperwork around for extended periods of time. We have students plan their art work in both written form and preliminary sketches. A portfolio enables you to keep that planning information with the actual finished product. Then, after they complete the work, they do a variety of written works that accompany the work, including self assessments and artist statements. This is all kept together with the art work.
This is the assembled portfolio for a third grade unit on ancient Chinese art.
|Planning sketch for copper tooling of Chinese taotie|
|Copper tooling of taotie|
|Mythical story about the taotie the student created|
|Student's reflection on their work|
|Information about Chinese brush painting|
|Practice sheet of Chinese brush strokes|
|Practice painting of their taotie|
One of the other genius things that she does is to assign a homework assignment in which the children take the portfolio home and discuss it with their parents. There are suggested questions that the child can ask the parent. The parent gives feedback on what they see and the child transcribes the response the best that they can. This is a great opportunity for connection between the child and the parent, and it also informs the parent about exactly what the child is learning in art.
I know that some children do not value their art and some parents do not value children's art. Some parents value the work but have no idea as to the depth of the work. Presenting the work in this form demonstrates how much effort went into the piece. I believe that in this form, children would be more proud of their work since it does represent a body of work and effort. This also seems like such a great tool for advocacy for the art program.