A mathematical solution to the puzzle of choice in portfolio presentations may be closer than we think. Following on from an earlier post ‘Assign tasks not tools’, and related to a post from Amy Burvall examining the importance of options, I have come across something that may well have solved our problems.
When you want to work out what choices to offer students, providing different entry points, allowing familiar structures to guide , promoting challenge and creativity, all at the same time, try this. Take one very familiar format (a). Take one less familiar to most (a-1f). (f) represents familiarity. Take another quite unfamiliar to many (a-5f). Add another mystery one that the student can choose (x). Combine these elements to find ℗, which equals creative portfolio. Here we have it:
℗ = a + (a-1f) + (a-5f) + x
The important mathematical theoretical framework can be deduced by substituting a + (a-1f) + (a-5f) with absolutely nothing.
℗ = x
In simple terms, as long as you have the fourth choice (the mystery one that the student can choose), you will be on the road to a creative portfolio. Who can argue with that logic, even from a meaningless equation made up by an English teacher?
With student portfolios, we travel one road, yet may need to head in many directions. Provide structure, but support student choice.