I like to use broad based checklists (informed by an understanding of human development), short narrative, examples of actual project or individual work done (this can be in audio, video or photo files)…
…and most importantly; a person’s captured reflections, passions and thoughts about themselves as a learner and friend.
This process also involves developing an honest and collaborative connection with a person’s family based on trust.
You may have heard this referred to as a portfolio approach… however I have learned to question further when told a school uses portfolios. Upon closer inspection I have found that most “portfolios” contain pre-packaged rubrics, standardized assessments and checklists, regular class assignments and standardized self reflection forms from educational supply houses or other sources.
These do not sparkle and zap with creativity, nor bravery and the pursuit of those big questions. In a review of one of these we won’t find out anything unexpected, sobering or thrilling. We learn little about the way a person thinks, feels and develops. And.. we learn little that can expand or deepen professional learning research and teaching practice.
We are living in a brave new world of conformity, obedience, double speak, shiny technology, new furniture and granite counter tops. We are all happy. Smile, smile, smile. Plug in.
I share a link to a book pictured above that has informed my practice and inspires me again and again. Descriptive practice is transformative and cutting edge.
Link to Anthony Cody’s piece at Education Week