Reinforces Writing as A Process
Collecting, Selecting, and reflecting illustrates the writing to process to students. In their article Portfolio Teaching: A Guide for Instructors Nedra Reynolds and Rich Rice state, “The portfolio process is also recursive: The portfolio keeper moves back and forth across collecting and selecting and reflecting, deciding to write a whole new piece or to devise a new navigational scheme” (25). The recursive process of constructing a portfolio mimics the lessons we teach students about writing. It reinforces the recursive nature of writing.
Constructing a portfolio gives students ownership over their writing. They get to decide what they revise and what they want to include in their portfolio to reflect a certain theme, lesson, or idea they have about themselves as a writer. Not every piece of writing a student does is going to make a great piece after revision. Sometimes things just don’t work and no matter how much effort goes in it is just not a good piece. Portfolios give students a chance to realize this. In her article Notes on the Portfolio Approach to Teaching Writing, Laurie Bottoms explains, “As I responded to their work (often several times) before I graded it, I got the sense they were beginning to see themselves as writers as never before” (28). Getting students to see themselves as real writers in the world rather than just students sitting within the four walls of a classroom allows them to engage with their writing and become better writers. Getting students to see their writing as their own and take responsibility for it is a critical step in the writing process. Portfolios can assist in this.
Students Think Critically and Reflect
The process of collecting, selecting, and reflecting allows students the opportunity to understand their own writing processes and identify their strength and weaknesses. Being able to identify this will assist them in developing their skills and becoming better writers. Donna Gorrell writes in her article Portfolio Teaching for New (And Experienced) Teachers of Writing, “…They [portfolios] are evidence of the evolution and improvement that each student’s writing has undergone from beginning to end. They represent all the instruction, collaboration, vexations, and emergent insights that each writer has experienced” (1). Portfolios reflect students across a period of time and allow them to identify what they are capable of and what they have learned through creation and reflection. The reflective introduction is essential in developing these critical thinking skills.
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