Willow Wind. Middle School Portfolio and Inquiry Project Handbook

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1 Willow Wind Middle School Portfolio and Inquiry Project Handbook

2 Portfolio Project for Grades 6 8 The heart of the portfolio process is reflection. Reflection is taking the time to give careful consideration to work and self, to look at the evidence and honestly assess learning and growth. As students learn to analyze their own work, they begin to identify their own strengths as well as the areas where they need to improve. Using this information, students can set goals, assess their own progress and communicate with others about what they have learned. This process continues with increasing complexity, increasing independence and development of higher-level thinking skills. Reviewing and reflecting on this work leads to setting personal goals for improvement and celebrating accomplishments. The Portfolio contains a collection of student work from grades 6-8 in the areas of: Personal Reflections Core Academic Knowledge Reasoning & Problem Solving Civic & Social Responsibility Sustainability Personal Interests Outside of School Inquiry The Portfolios in Progress will be utilized during conferences throughout the middle school years at Willow Wind. Portfolio conferences provide an opportunity for a sustained and focused conversation about learning. They honor the student as knowledgeable about his/her accomplishments and offer students the chance to set goals to address areas that are challenging. The portfolio itself becomes a treasured collection of work samples that show growth and expertise in a variety of areas, connecting content, concepts, and skills from the disciplines in an integrated way. This provides an authentic context for self-evaluation. Each Parent Partner student in grades 6, 7 and 8 will be required to compile a portfolio. The core teachers will work with the students to begin the collection of evidence and creation of materials throughout their middle school years. During the spring of their 8 th grade year, students will be assigned to a teacher mentor. Willow Wind will celebrate the accomplishments of the students at a Portfolio Celebration Evening in the spring. This will be an opportunity for students to present their work to the Willow Wind Community. At Willow Wind, all students in grades 6, 7 and 8 complete an inquiry project each year. As 6 th graders, students do a class inquiry, 7 th graders work on their inquiry projects in small groups and all 8 th graders complete a capstone project individually. All of these projects are connected to the students topics of study. These inquiry projects are included in their portfolios. A more detailed description of the inquiry projects is included in this handbook.

3 What is the Inquiry Project? An inquiry project is a study into a worthy question, issue, problem or idea. Inquiry involves serious engagement and investigation and the active creation and testing of new knowledge. Inquiry-based learning involves asking questions, researching, making discoveries, and rigorously testing those discoveries in search of new understanding. In our dynamic, knowledge-based society, students must develop the ability to attain knowledge as well as problem-solving skills. Knowledge of facts alone is not enough in the 21st century. Students should develop the ability to apply their knowledge in realistic, problem-solving situations. They also need to develop skills for self-directed learning and to explore new knowledge areas. While working on their inquiry projects, students will work in teams and become skilled in presenting their work and results. Inquiry-based learning provides them with competencies in lifelong learning, in problem-solving and in scientific reasoning. These are exactly the competencies pupils will need beyond school in order to be prepared for their professional lives in a continuously changing future. Elements of an Inquiry Project Authenticity The study emanates from a question, problem or exploration that has meaning to the students. Academic Rigor The inquiry leads students to build knowledge that leads to deep understanding Students develop habits of mind that encourage them to ask questions of: Evidence (how do we know what we know?) Viewpoint (who is speaking?) Pattern and Connection (What causes what?) Supposition (How might things have been different??) Why it matters (Who cares?) Assessment On-going assessment provides timely descriptive feedback and utilizes a range of methods, including peer and self evaluation. Students reflect on their learning using clear criteria. Beyond the Classroom The study requires students to address a question, issue or problem, relevant to the curriculum, but grounded in the outside world. Students develop organizational and self management skills. Elaborated Communication Students have extended opportunities to support, challenge, and respond to each other s ideas. The study requires students to conduct research, share information, make decisions, solve problems, create meaning and communicate with various audiences inside and outside the classroom. Connecting With Experts The study requires students to observe and interact with adults with relevant expertise and experience. Use of Technology Technology is used in a purposeful manner that demonstrates an appreciation of new ways of thinking and doing.

4 Required Elements to be Included in the Portfolio Personal Reflections Introduction: Who I am This piece will be completed in 8 th grade as an overall introduction to the completed portfolio. A written piece describing his/her academic strengths, weaknesses and goals as well as a description of how he/she learns best. This will be updated each year This I believe. Essay Essential Knowledge Artifacts : 3 pieces of evidence for each Essential Knowledge Areas Artifacts will demonstrate strong skills in reading, writing and speaking as well as the ability to understand and express ideas about important human issues through literature and writing Artifacts will show a student s ability to solve mathematical investigations and demonstrate proficiency in math concepts taught at the middle level. Include artifacts that demonstrate the use of appropriate statistical methods to analyze data in other fields of study. Artifacts will demonstrate that students possess an understanding of fundamental science concepts and how they apply in the world by studying and regularly practicing the skills of a scientist including critical thinking, writing and presentation of scientific findings. Artifacts will show an understanding of the achievements of various cultures throughout history and an understanding of the foundations of the American political system. Learning Results Artifacts: 3 pieces of evidence for each of the Learning Results Categories Reasoning & Problem Solving: Artifacts will demonstrate reasoning strategies, knowledge, and common sense to solve complex problems related to all fields of knowledge. Evidence that student s can perform effectively on teams that set and achieve goals, conduct investigations, solve problems, and create solutions Civic & Social Responsibility: Artifacts show how student s take an active role in the community. Sustainability: Artifacts will demonstrate an understanding of natural and human communities, and an awareness of how personal and collective actions affect the sustainability of these interrelated systems. Beyond the Classroom: 6 th & 7 th graders will include evidence of learning activities initiated by the student that take place outside of school. 8 th graders will have an opportunity to spend time with a community mentor working in a field of interest for the student. A written reflection of their experience will be included in this portfolio. Portfolio Reflection During the 8 th grade year, each student will complete a Portfolio Reflection. 6 th & 7 th Grade Inquiry Projects Include your final project and the completed rubrics. 8 th Grade Capstone Project and Presentation

5 Eighth Grade Internship: Authentic Experiential Learning in Action At Willow Wind, students are given substantial independence. While independence and initiative are encouraged, they are also taught that they are accountable for thorough completion of what they set out to do. Throughout the years at Willow Wind, they have developed many productive relationships with adults, including their teachers, the school administrator, and many parents. The Internship Program is designed to give our eighth grade students further experience being supervised by adults, accomplishing important work, and meeting adults expectations. Eighth grade students are fascinated with their potential roles in the larger society and eager to explore these roles through their own participation. Authentic work experiences are an important part of their exploration of the world. At Willow Wind we have designed an Internship Program to give students the opportunity to experience this key aspect of adolescent development and exploration. It is important for adolescents to be authentically exposed to the larger society they will enter. Amid all the tumult, inconsistency and insecurity, we need to remember that they can do much more than we typically expect when given the chance and proper support. There is no such thing as a typical internship. While each internship experience is different, all are valuable for the intern. The goal is that middle school students participate in authentic, productive, necessary work. In the past, we have had students work at the public library, migrant Head Start, a forge, a horse rescue facility, a photo shop, a butcher shop, with school district computer techs and a variety of other places. That being said, there are some uniform guidelines: During second semester, all eighth grade students will be asked to identify a place for their internship. Teachers will help guide students in this process. Students will write a letter of inquiry, personally contact the internship site and set-up their own hours. Students will work for at least 15 hours over the course of their internship During the internship, all students are required to keep a daily journal to help process the experience Specifically, they are asked to reflect on the questions below: What did you learn about the organization you chose for your internship? What was a typical day like? What did you learn about yourself and your work habits? What skills did you use to be successful in this job? Are you interested in this field of work? Why or why not? In hindsight, how was the process of securing your internship? What did you do well? What would you do differently? What advice would you give to someone who has not gone through the process? before? Once the internship experience is completed, students will receive feedback from their supervisors. They will also speak to the 7 th and 8 th graders about their experiences. A reflection will be included in their 8 th grade portfolio.

6 Portfolio Checklist Personal Reflections Introduction: Who I am - 8 th Grade Academic strengths, challenges and goals 6 th Grade Academic strengths, challenges and goals 7 th Grade Academic strengths, challenges and goals 8 th Grade This I believe. Essay 6 th Grade This I believe. Essay 7 th Grade This I believe. Essay 8 h Grade Essential Knowledge Artifacts : 3 pieces of evidence for each Essential Knowledge Area Literature and Writing Mathematics & Problem Solving Science and Science Inquiry History and Government Learning Results Artifacts: 3 pieces of evidence for each Learning Results Category Reasoning & Problem Solving Civic & Social Responsibility Sustainability Beyond the Classroom _ Evidence of learning activities outside of Willow Wind. 6 th Grade Class Inquiry Project Final Project with rubrics 7 th Grade Small Group Inquiry Project Final Project with rubrics 8 th Grade Capstone Project Project with rubrics Presentation Portfolio Reflection : 8 th Grade Reflection

7 Portfolio & Inquiry Project Due Dates October 7 December 9 Week of Dec. 16 Academic strengths, challenges and goals This I believe. Essay Inquiry Question Finalized and expert identified December 18 1 artifact for each area of Essential Knowledge Literature and Writing Mathematics & Problem Solving Science and Science Inquiry History and Government December 18 1 artifact for each area of Learning Results Reasoning & Problem Solving Civic & Social Responsibility Sustainability January Focus Week #1 Week #2 Inquiry Project research completed Inquiry Project Written March 17 May 2 Out of the Classroom Artifacts 1 artifact for each area of Essential Knowledge Literature and Writing Mathematics & Problem Solving Science and Science Inquiry History and Government May 2 1 artifact for each area of Learning Results Reasoning & Problem Solving Civic & Social Responsibility Sustainability TBD Date for Inquiry Presentation

8 Rubric for Evaluation Inquiry Based Project 6 th and 7 th Grade Projects Rubric Points Presentation Effort & Collaboration Content Students have created an effective way to share the information that highlights the particular strengths of the chosen format. All elements make a contribution. There are few technical problems and none of a serious nature. Students were a very effective team. Division of responsibilities capitalized on the strengths of each team member. The final product was shaped by all members and represents something that would not have been possible to accomplish Meets all criteria of the previous level and one or more of the following: reflects effective research skills and application of critical thinking skills; shows notable insight or understanding of the topic; compels the audience s attention With minor exceptions, all elements contribute rather than detract from the presentation s overall effectiveness There are some problems, but the viewer is able to follow the presentation with few difficulties. 1 5 Presentation difficulties seriously interfere with the viewer s ability to see, hear, or understand content. 0 Presentation is poorly done. working alone. Students worked together as a team on all aspects of the project. There was an effort to assign roles based on the skills/talents of individual members. All members strove to fulfill their responsibilities. Students worked together on the project as a team with defined roles to play. Most members fulfilled their responsibilities. Disagreements were resolved or managed productively. Presentation is the result of a group effort, but only some members of the group contributed. There is evidence of poor communication, unresolved conflict, or failure to collaborate on important aspects of the work. Presentation was created by one student working more or less alone (though may have received guidance or help from others.) The project has a clear goal related to a significant topic or issue. Information included has been compiled from several relevant sources. The project is useful to an audience beyond the students who created it. The project presents information in an accurate and organized manner that can be understood by the intended audience. There is a focus that is maintained throughout the piece. The project has a focus but may stray from it at times. There is an organizational structure, though it may not be carried through consistently. There may be factual errors or inconsistencies, but they are relatively minor. Project seems haphazard, hurried or unfinished. There are significant factual errors, misconceptions, or misunderstandings. Presentation Score = Collaboration Score= Content Score=

9 Self Assessment 6 th & 7 th Grade Inquiry Projects Name: Presentation Group: Please check the following items you feel you successfully completed with your presentation. Team Work: I collaborated with my team members. I reviewed deadlines and worked with the team to complete necessary work for the presentation. I was supportive of other team members. Content: I gave valuable information on my topic. I used credible sources. Organization: I began work promptly. I organized ideas in a meaningful way. I stayed on task and met deadlines needed to complete work for the presentation. Complete the following statements: My strengths on this project were: My challenges on this project were: Changes I would make for the next project I will do are:

10 8 th Grade Capstone Project Rubric (pg 1) Name Inquiry Project Inquiry Question Development and Selection Research and Development Written Format Beginning Developing Accomplished Question/topic allows student to develop understandings beyond what is already known. Student is able to draw new understandings and create original meaning within question/topic researched. Question/topic meets requirements to research and develop understandings. Question lacks originality or is close-ended. Student is limited in the research or sources available for support. Student has limited scope of research and is lacking valid background information from a local expert source. Research is mainly gathered from generic sources which approach the inquiry more on the surface. Introduction: Lacks clear format containing statement of inquiry question. Body: There is limited organization of supporting research, evaluation of information, and local expert input. Conclusion: Summary is limited in information and findings/understandings of inquiry are not clearly stated. Conventions: Format lacking in paragraph structure. Numerous punctuation and spelling errors occur. Research has been conducted using a logical well-outlined plan. The student has incorporated a range of research information beyond internet sites. The local expert provides depth of understanding and the student has integrated local resources into their information. Introduction: Clear introduction stating Inquiry question and related details leading to the body of the paper. Body: Body contains clear summary of research, complete details of findings and unexpected findings. A clear description of who your expert is and how they assisted. Conclusion: Summary clearly states your findings from your inquiry. Conclusion brings your inquiry full-circle from original question to what you have concluded. Conventions: Paper follows research/essay form with clear paragraph structure. No more than three punctuation and spelling errors occur. Word choice is unique and diverse. Question/topic is both original and creative. The question provides the student with several directions in which to guide research. The student is able to incorporate the question within areas within the school community, local community and beyond. Research is well organized and has followed a plan. Student has adapted research plan as new information / sources arose. Student has sought out one or more resources and worked extensively with their expert in order to develop depth of understanding. Introduction: Very creative hooking the reader into your inquiry. Question is clearly stated with expected findings included. The introduction to your research plan is detailed and extensive. Body: The body is well formatted thoroughly describing your research plan, what you have learned, what went well and what was challenging. Thorough background of your expert source and what they contributed to your inquiry. Conclusion: Conclusion clearly states findings from inquiry research. A summary of research, expert opinions, and your own perspective are well integrated into the conclusion. Conventions: Paper is well formatted. Very clear beginning, body, ending. No spelling or punctuation errors. Risks with complex sentences and grammar are evident. Diverse and creative word choice.

11 8 th Grade Capstone Project Rubric (pg 2) Written Communication - Content Presentation Written report lacks clear organization. Thesis / rationale statement, lacks clear organization and details. The written content begins to communicate what the student has learned but is missing some clear details of findings from experts in the field. Presentation has information on the inquiry project yet lacks clear organization. Inquiry presentation shares findings but the speaker lacked clear knowledge or confidence in the subject. Some technology was used, possibly a Powerpoint / slideshow but originality is lacking. Student / local expert was not present or involved. Written report follows a clear and logical sequence clearly stating what the inquiry question is, what new questions developed from the research, and how the research adapted as new information formed. Written report includes information directly related to the student s expert in the field. Presentation is engaging and inclusive of information from the beginning of the [project, through the gathering of information stages, and into building conclusions. Student is confident in speaking to the audience and is capable of responding to questions from the audience. A clear interest and understanding is present with the speaker. Technology is utilized and is engaging for the audience. The presenter is confident and able to use the technology to enhance the presentation. Student/local expert was present or involved. Written report is clear and concise following a very organized format expressing discoveries developed from the beginning of the inquiry, how the inquiry adapted through the gathering stages and how the students expert in the field help clarify and guide the research and findings. Findings are clearly stated. Presenter has a very thorough understanding of the inquiry project and process. Presentation clearly shares the process the student utilized in creating the inquiry question, designing a research plan and adapting the research as both information and guidance from their local expert developed. The presenter has included their local expert within the presentation and utilized resources outside of the basic requirements. Presenter used technology beyond the basic slide show and explored using technology that builds upon the audiences interest.

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