Unit Portfolio - Day 1 of 2

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SWBAT demonstrate their learning of the main concepts covered in this unit in a portfolio that shows and explains their best work.

Big Idea

Show what you know! Students compile their best work to demonstrate what they have learned throughout this unit.


30 minutes

For the next two class periods, students will be working on their Multiple Representations Unit Portfolios.  I have students create a portfolio at the end of each unit as a way for them to demonstrate the math concepts they have learned and to give them the opportunity to reflect on that learning.  I find portfolios to be a very successful, alternative summative assessment assignment for students. I also give a test at the end of each unit as well and sometimes schedule short interviews with students to assess certain concepts.

I like to introduce the math portfolio to students by telling them that they have the opportunity to "show what they know" and the chance to put all of their best work together. I begin by drawing a burger on the board and make an analogy to portfolio itself. The buns of the burger are the Introduction and Reflection section of their portfolio, and the meat of the assignment is work they have already done.  

I then show students a video interview I did of a former student who talks about the portfolio process.  Showing another student talking about the value of the portfolio helps students to "buy in" to this assignment that may be very different for them.

Next, I hand out the Portfolio Assignment.  We read through it together and let students know that a lot of the work they already have done.  I like to give students the opportunity to choose what sections they will work on first. Some students like to write the Introduction first and others like to go through their binders and pull out the pieces they will need.  It can be helpful to keep a list on the board of what students would like to get accomplished during today's class period. I usually go around the room and ask each student to share out what s/he plans to work on for the day.  I can refer to this list at the end of class as I check in about what each student was able to complete.


  • Each student will need a 3 ring binder to put his/her portfolio work in.  I also give students approximately 10 clear sheets each.  Students LOVE to put their work in clear sheets, so I make sure to have enough on hand.  I think it helps them feel more confident about their work.
  • I have previous students' portfolios in my room to show a few as examples. I leave some out on tables so students can check them out to get ideas.
  • I encourage students to leave the aesthetics of their portfolios until last.  I let them know I'm more interested in their work than how it looks.  If they have time once they've compiled all their work, l they can spend some time on how it looks.
  • Students will need work from throughout the unit in order to complete this assignment. I make sure I have a system throughout the year for students to save their work. I give each student in my class a binder.  If students need new copies of things that might have scratch outs on them or be messy, I have extra copies on hand or keep a tally of copies I'll need to make later.


25 minutes

Next, I let students get to work!

I'll be busy circulating and helping students organize their work, find appropriate activities, and reflect on their learning.  

If students have trouble thinking about the arc of the unit, I find it helpful to flip through their binders with them and help them outline the main ideas that were covered.  

The general arc of this unit is:

  • Writing rules to represent algebraic situations and interpreting rules in a context
  • Connecting rules to graphs 
  • Constructing graphs based on tables
  • Fitting lines to data
  • Understanding rate of change and starting values
  • Understanding the connections between rules, tables, graphs, and situations
  • Working with pairs of linear equations



5 minutes

I leave some time at the end of class to check in on student progress. Students will likely need to complete some of their portfolio work outside of class in order to finish the portfolio in two class periods.  I like to allow students to choose what they want to do for a homework assignment, but make sure I record what they have chosen so I can check for completion at the start of the next class.  If I want to give students some controlled choice for a homework assignment, you might suggest they choose between the following:

  • Write either the Introduction or the Final Reflection
  • Choose their graphing activities and write an explanation about what the graphs helped them learn
  • Choose an acitivity that helped them learn about starting value and rate of change and write an explanation about their learning.


Some material taught during this unit was adapted from the IMP Teacher’s Guide, © 2010 Interactive Mathematics Program. Some rights reserved.