Teaching middle-schoolers how to take responsibility for their work ethic has been one of the more challenging pieces of working with adolescents. They seem to have amnesia at the end of every semester that they ever forgot their homework or texbook, even when faced with seeing the checkmarks (or lack thereof) in my gradebook.
Enter my Portfolio System. At the start of each year, the students are shown a file crate with a folder inside for each student. Inside each folder, there are three things.
First, there is their Mission Statement page stapled to one side. The Mission Statement page contained here has an explanation sheet on the back of the page that students will utilize.
Second, there is the Portfolio Log sheet. Every time a student says they forgot their homework or a book or a pencil, they must "Sign Their Folder." They sign the date, what they are missing, and why, and then drop it on my desk. Not only can I see (daily, briefly) when a student is beginning to forget too many assignments/materials, but the students themselves can see. Additionally, there is no argument with parents since the Portfolio Log is signed in their son's/daughter's handwriting.
Finally, there are essays and work samples that they collect over the course of the year. (ALL papers handed back and go inside until report card or progress report time; at that time, students bring 95% of their papers home and leave a few work samples to reflect upon and show their yearlong progress.)
I send home this Log stapled to the graded assignments at least twice per quarter for parents to review, sign and return.
It sounds complex, but in reality, by the end of September, the students are reminding each other to "Sign the Folder" and by Christmas, parents are looking for packets to come home. It's a great home-school communication.
**This resource includes this explanation, the Portfolio Log sheet, and the two-page Mission Statement directions and worksheet.**
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