ALSO visit us at EvaluationStation.Com View our power-point, "How to Prepare for a Portfolio Evaluation, without losing your mind!" Download our helpful "Homeschool Portfolio Checklist". Read client testimonies, find great resources, and be encouraged on our Laugh page! We do in-person and online portfolio evaluations, and give you feedback that can REALLY make your homeschooling more effective. Remember to tell us how you feel on our POLL at the bottom of THIS page before you go, and visit our ONLINE STORE!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Portfolios... Practically Perfect in Every Way!

    While the beginning of the homeschool year can be filled with excitement and anticipation, the end of the year can be stressful as evaluation time draws near... IF we're not prepared. Every homeschooler (in Florida) is required by law to maintain a portfolio (and keep it for at least two years), but nobody said we couldn't have FUN with it! For those of us who prefer to share our child's portfolio with a certified teacher in order to meet our end of the year evaluation requirement, here are a few tips that will have you so prepared, you'll shout, "We can't wait to show off our portfolio!"
    There have been a couple of really exciting options that have developed this year in the realm of portfolio evaluations. Many people are enjoying the ease and convenience of online, or "cyber" evaluations. This is accomplished by connecting to your evaluator using Skype or video iChat for a brief meeting. The portfolio is shared electronically prior to the meeting, and the Certificate of Review is received by the county liaison seconds after a successful evaluation! "That was easy!"
    We have some pretty smart parents out there who have been creating private blog portfolios (only open to a select few, not the general public). Even those among us who are less computer savvy are finding they can put together a simple blog with the help of a user friendly site such as Blogspot.Com. You can include student work samples, videos, and photos. When you are done, just send the link to your evaluator and schedule your online meeting.
    Now for a few technical tips...One of the most important things your evaluator needs to see is work samples. Some subjects are difficult to capture on paper. Maybe you do a lot of hands-on activities for science or history. Keep that camera handy and download those photos as work samples for those subjects. Take video of your child showing off their lap-book, or playing that song on their guitar. Most subjects are easily documented on paper.
    Since the evaluator must determine if the child has progressed during that school year, most require a minimum of three work samples from each subject area taught. It is no fun to frantically sort through piles of work at the end of the year. Mark three dates on your calendar. One a couple of weeks into your school year, one in the middle of the year, and one near the end. When those special days arrive, pull aside one sample of work from each subject area and tuck them away in your portfolio (if you plan on meeting with your evaluator in person,) or scan the work samples into your private blog or a file on your desk top. 
    Another required element that your evaluator will need to see is samples of your Daily Log. This is very easy to do and will actually help you to have a better homeschool experience. You can see a great example of a simple to use template, all filled out, when you view my power-point, "How to Prepare for a Portfolio Evaluation, without losing your mind!" which can be found on the "Services" page of my site: EvaluationStation.Com  The Daily Log is not something that can be thrown together a week before a portfolio review, so it's good to learn how to do this now. Take time to fill out your plan at the beginning of each week (but no further in advance than that.) Write just enough, but not too much, for each subject. Here is a great Daily Log Template you can use brought to you by EvaluationStation.Com!
    There are a couple of other required elements that portfolios must have, and some things that just help us to be more organized homeschoolers. Be sure to visit my site for this additional information, and some encouragement as well! We can even set up an automatic email reminder for you so you will be notified when it's time to schedule the appointment for your evaluation! Just email me with your evaluation date (which can be found on the confirmation letter you received from the county when you declared you were going to homeschool.) Then you won't have to worry about being late.
    Knowing what is expected of us is always so comforting. Being prepared reduces stress and helps us to focus on what's really important... enjoying every minute of this wonderful journey called, "homeschooling!" I can't wait to see those wonderful portfolios and all the marvelous things your children will be learning this year. Please contact me with any questions you have, and remember... "Evaluation time does NOT have to be stressful!"

Serving all of Florida and our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ,

Carleen Galiardo

Homeschooling Mom
Certified Educational Evaluator
Twitter: @ThatEvalGal