What is a portfolio review? What should it include?

Question: I am a newbie. This was my first year, and now I’m worried about this portfolio evaluation. What exactly should I prepare for a homeschool portfolio review? What should I expect?

So you’re opting for the portfolio evaluation to wrap up your school year. If you are registered with your local school district, this is one way of meeting the Florida State Statue’s requirements.

You may be wondering exactly what a portfolio is, and how to prepare one. Simply put it is a recorded log of what you’re student completed during the school year, and examples of their work. It should reflect the the growth a student has made during the school year.

It does not mean that an evaluator needs to see every last piece of paper, or evidence of every assignment completed. Nope! In fact, don’t even try. It will drive you nuts, and an experienced evaluator will not be combing over thousands of work samples. 

Think about an artist student that curates a portfolio to show to the admissions board of a art  school. Do they give the admissions board every doodle they ever made? No! They make sure that they show the board their best work, in wide variety and range--essentially their portfolio says “Look at me, who I am, and what I can do!”

Your student’s portfolio should do the same--it should showcase your student’s growth over the year. By law, it needs to be kept for 2 years, and be available for inspection by the county within 15 days of being requested. Once a teacher or evaluator has signed off on it, keep it neat, keep it together, and keep it handy for two years.

A log of some kind should be kept throughout the school year. I have seen things as simple as composition notebooks written by hand that just state what a student did, to electronic notes stored on private cloud storage sites. Some parents have written plans, and just make the date something is completed and keep it as a log--they don’t actually create anything new or separate. It doesn't matter what method you use--just use one. It doesn’t need to be long, complicated or stressful. Make a list. Write down the page numbers covered in a book, or jot down the novel the student is reading.

A solid portfolio will have examples of student’s work in all subjects they spent a lot of time working in. It’s a very good idea to have material examples that span throughout the school year. This makes it easy to see how students have grown. Don’t think only written work has to go in there. Went on a field trip? Throw in some pictures. Kid’s took a painting class? Show off a creation. Took a trip to the theater? Save that ticket stub! Taught your student about plants or bugs while growing your backyard garden? Take pictures of your student in their garden! Did they earn an award or certificate? Yes, please up in a copy. Did they start a business? Throw in some proof of that. Remember, field trips count! Religious responsibilities that required reading, studying, research, speaking, or preforming? Please include that! Older student have a internship? Put a record sheet of that in your portfolio too! If your school year was more than worksheets--your portfolio should be too! 

U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-15766    Photographer: Haque, Abul

Just as an artist doesn't include every piece of art they have created in their portfolio, the homeschool portfolio does not need to maintain every piece of work a student produces.

IF your student used a program like Time4Learning, FLVS FLEX, of the Simple Revolution Solution (that's ours), print out the grades! Sites like MobyMax, IXL, and others have parent reports that show how a student has performed using their site over time. These are just a few a super easy way to continuity of work. 

Also, a portfolio review is not to see if your student is “on grade level” or to see if they made what the school system would consider “a year’s worth of growth”! Every child starts at different places, and grows at different rates. The portfolio review is to give proof to the county and state that the student is learning and making the growth possible based on their own abilities and circumstances.

Unschoolers or relaxed schoolers will not have a problem completing a portfolio review. Look for an evaluator who understands these educational approaches, and you’ll be just fine (if you're wondering, I love working with unschoolers and relaxed schoolers). 

IF this is your first year and you’re like “Oh crap, I didn’t keep anything! No one told me to keep a list”--breath! Once again, an experienced evaluator will help you by looking at what is there, and give you the reassurance you need to feel comfortable. You’ll find the method and evaluator that works for you and your family in time.

As a side note, it’s great if you can work with the same evaluator once your find your fit. This way you won’t have to explain your situation to someone new annually, or feel that you have to go to great lengths to demonstrate growth. and you can feel at ease. You should also have an ally there to help you at anytime throughout the school year if you need assistance. 

Remember, Florida law requires 180 days of school completed during the 365 span since their last evaluation (or when they registered). It could happen ANY day--even holidays, summer, or weekends. A log or records with dates, a examples that were produced over a course of the year is all that is required. It should not be a source of stress or anxiety for the home educator or student!



Questions? Want to schedule a portfolio evaluation with me? I can help you out! Just contact me

What is unschooling? Legit option or an easy way out?

What is unschooling? Is it legit or an easy way out? – A researching newbie mom

 

I was pretty sure if I “unschooled” children they would eventually mutiny.

Define unschooling? A while ago I would have given you a very different response. I’ll admit it–when I heard the term “unschooling” for the first time the image that came to mind was that of unruly children. No training. No learning. No form. No routine. No structure. No way!

 

I was worse than one simply ignorant to homeschooling. I was an educator who was ignorant to homeschooling. I wasn’t anti-homeschooling. In fact I was intrigued about it as an option for my children. I actually came across the term “unschooling” during my research, and I’ll admit that the title threw me off. I immediately thought that “un”schooling was tantamount to “anti”educating. And how could I, an educator, support or endorse something that I thought belittled education? I stood on my ill-form idea and didn’t dive any further into the homeschooling approach.

 

What a small minded conclusion I had jumped too! When a friend of mine, a graduate of the homeschool system herself, married to an Ivy leaguer, told me that her children were being unschooled, I had to pause because apparently I had missed something. Here were two adults who I admired for thinking outside the box, highly capable critical thinkers themselves, and they were unschooling. And their sons? Polite, well-spoken, well-mannered, intelligent, and academically gifted. Yes, I had obviously had no idea what unschooling was. And once I did the research with an open mind I realized that always touted many virtues of unschooling in my own education philosophy.

 

So, just what is unschooling?

 

In essence, it is a branch of the homeschooling community that encourages a student-led approach to education. Children are encouraged, and assisted, in following their passions. If you have an education background (like me) and support Project Based Learning (like me) don’t you dare roll your eyes at this. Many highly acclaimed schools in the US are praise for encouraging “inquiry,” “problem-solving,” and “project-based learning”. If you don’t believe me, check out The Noodle’s 41 most innovative schools way back in 2015.

 

Strip all of that educator’s jargoon away and what do you have? Schools are innovating by attempting to encourage children to do exactly what unschoolers are encouraged to do everyday–dive into their interests and passions. It’s probably this encouragement that had my friend’s son taking violin lessons while other kindergarten students were learning to stand in straight lines. Which, I ask you, will serve a child more? The latter only has a place if you expect that child to spend a lot of time in institutional lines… but I digress.

 

The Oxford Research Encyclopedias defined schooling as “a set of procedures employed by specialists, called teachers, to induce children to acquire a certain set of skills, knowledge, values, and ideas, referred to as a curriculum, chosen by the teacher or by a schooling hierarchy above the teacher.” I’ll be honest: I find the definition, while at its base true, a bit infused with a prejudice.

 

What shines through this though is that education has no direct tie to schooling. A school is a unit of an educational institution. The foundational confines given by the institutional aspect of school can be thrown off, allowing for more freedom and movement in education. You can lose the “school” without losing “education”.

 

Is unschooling for everyone?

 

I’ll say it, and you can quote me: unschooling done right is amazing, but it is not for everyone. First notice that I said “done right”. Sitting home on the “boob-tube” all day for weeks at end, to no end, is not unschooling. (Please note, I am not talking about a process often called “deschooling” in this article.) Unschooling is a form of education–therefore some form of learning occurs. Especially in younger years it’s important to let a student try their hands at many things. When something strikes a chord, encourage it! Giving your young student opportunities to try things means exposure and effort from the home educator! Even a student who gets sucked into watching Star Wars over and over, for example, should eventually take it to another level as natural curiosity takes over. Maybe they are interested in George Lucas himself? Maybe it’s the costume aspect of it? Perhaps they decide to make their own fan-movie? Imagine what kind of learning would take place from the time a child who was apparently just a couch-potato turns into a creative maven and makes their own film? Or maybe they decide to cosplay some of those outfits. Do you know how much learning would occur as they learn to measure, convert,   

 

A home educator that unschools may find that their “school calendar” is full of lots and lots of activities. Unschooling is by no means the “easy way out”.

 

Also note that I mentioned that I don’t believe it’s for everyone. Maybe the home educator would feel more comfortable with a curriculum or outline to follow. Maybe it’s the student themselves that craves more structure? Guess what? That’s OK. There is no right way for everyone to do homeschooling. However, having a balanced view of all of the homeschool approaches, along with an honest understanding of yourself, your student, and your lifestyle could help you decide on which of may options just might be right for you.

 

Do you unschool? If so, what does a typical day or week look like for you? What advice would you give to someone considering this approach?

Blowing Bubbles: An example of everyday learning

Everyday learning can be shown during something as simple as bubble time.
Everyday learning can be shown during something as simple as bubble time.

Learning does not have to take place behind a book. Kids don’t show what they know with the use of pen and paper. Everyday learning occurs during simple tasks–chores, conversations, even play.

 

 

Everyday learning: it is something amazing to see in action. It was just a normal few minutes playing with my sons on the porch. Their dad had just bought a new bubble machine for his business, and like all good children, my sons were doing a quality assurance check. There is something pure and simple about the joy of children as they run around, trying to pop rainbow orbs that dance in the wind.

 

“Oh, look at that one!” I exclaimed. “A double bubble!”

 

     Pop!

 

My three-year-old squealed with glee, “Double bubble!”

 

     Pop!

 

It became a competition of who could spot one first and pop it. I’ll be honest, he was winning.

 

Then a thought occurred to me, Who taught him what the word ‘double’ means?

 

Even though I never explicitly taught him the meaning of the word, it was obvious that he knew what it meant. He demonstrated it by only pointing out and popping double bubbles.

 

I let the educator hat slip on for a second, and looked at what we were doing. There was the obvious reinforcement of the vocabulary word, but there was more. This was an industrial bubble maker, pumping out hundreds of bubbles a minute; imagine the control to look past all of the floating bubbles to look for only the “double bubble” — talk about an eye workout! Then we added the layer of hand-and-eye coordination, to physically pop the bubble quicker than me, and it gets even more complexed.

 

And don’t forget the social lessons — he was learning to take turns. The game itself was made up on the spur of the moment. We never formally decided on ground rules. He was able to fall into the natural rhythm, and follow the unspoken rules. That’s not something to take for granted. Adults sometimes have difficulty following the social nuances of unspoken rules.

 

Did I feel super proud of my well-crafted, multi-layered lesson?

 

Nope. Because it wasn’t a lesson. It was playing. No planning necessary. But just because it isn’t a formal lesson, doesn’t mean learning wasn’t occurring. This fun bit of double bubble time reminded me that playing for humans of all ages can be learning opportunities.

 

Director of Education Revolution

 

Learn more about the author of this piece, and the Director of Education Revolution, Yolanda Newton. Feel free to contact her with questions and comments.”

Announcing An All Included Homeschool Option for 2017-18 year

While homeschoolers can select what their calendar year looks like, many follow the same, or similar schedule, to the local public school system. If you happen to be one of them, then maybe you’re trying to figure out what curriculum you are going to use, what classes your kids will sign up for, and how you are going to budget it all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an all included homeschool option?

 

Education Revolution has got your back. Not only are we offering hybrid lessons (physical and virtual aspects) for elementary and middle/high school levels, we also have an all included homeschool option that can end your hunt for core curriculum and tutoring in one sweep at a fraction of the cost!

 

 

Introducing the Simple Revolution Solution!

For one flat rate your student will get the core curriculum, lessons, tutoring, and supplements for the entire year. That’s right, one cost has your whole year covered. To make this all included homeschool option even more home-school friendly you can pay upfront or month-by-month!

 

 

A case example that shows how this all included solution could save you money, time, and stress.
NOTE: The course is pro-rated! That means it is $100 per month–you don’t pay for months you weren’t enrolled for! For example, join in November and your total cost is $700–you don’t pay for August through October!

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk courses, curriculum, and simplicity! Offerings for August – October 2017 Something for ALL grades!

Posted by Education Revolution on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

 

Interested? Contact me and let’s talk to see if this amazing program in the right fit for your family!

 

 

  • Check out all of the current offerings for the months of August – October in one place, our current brochure.

  • If you’d like to hear these offerings in video format, check out the two live videos posted to Facebook that discusses the offerings and answers some follow up questions.