Reflecting on our Collections Experiences

Introduction: A portfolio has been defined as a "purpose collection of student work that demonstrates efforts, progress, and achievement" over time. Many of us are "packrats" or habitual collectors, and there are often deep roots to our collection experiences. The goal of this activity is for you to share your personal experiences with collections, either as a child or as an adult. Another goal of this activity is to share a little more about yourself, so that we can get to know each other to help us form a learning community.

1. First, read the following excerpt from The Power of Portfolios (a wonderful little book on portfolios in K-5 classrooms):

Portfolios have been with us for a very long time. Those of us who grew up in the 1950s or earlier recognize portfolios as reincarnations of the large memory boxes or drawers where our parents collected starred spelling tests, lacy valentines, science fair posters, early attempts at poetry, and (of course) the obligatory set of plaster hands. Each item was selected by our parents because it represented our acquisition of a new skill or our feelings of accomplishment. Perhaps an entry was accompanied by a special notation of praise from a teacher or maybe it was placed in the box just because we did it.

We formed part of our identity from the contents of these memory boxes. We recognized each piece and its association with a particular time or experience. We shared these collections with grandparents to reinforce feelings of pride and we reexamined them on rainy days when friends were unavailable for play. Reflecting on the collection allowed us to attribute importance to these artifacts, and by extension to ourselves, as they gave witness to the story of our early school experiences.

Our parents couldn’t possibly envision that these memory boxes would be the inspiration for an innovative way of thinking about children’s learning. These collections, lovingly stored away on our behalf, are the genuine exemplar for documenting children’s learning over time. But now these memory boxes have a different meaning. It’s not purely private or personal, although the personal is what gives power to what they can mean.
(Hebert, Elizabeth (2001) The Power of Portfolios. Jossey-Bass, p.ix-x)

2. Reflect on something about your COLLECTIONS: Suggested topics:

3. Further reflections on the following questions:

Include some your reflections on these questions in your response.


Return to Module 1.1