Assessment Archives - Eva Varga

April 7, 20166

A student portfolio has long been used in education to represent a student’s best work. Today, accordion folders are being replaced by digital or online portfolios – interactive, cloud-based catalogs of the student’s best work.

Today, the development of a digital portfolio is at the heart of many college and career readiness programs in high schools across the country. A student portfolio crafts a narrative of learning, growth, and achievement over time. An online student portfolio is a creative means of organizing, summarizing, and sharing artifacts, information, and ideas.

How to Build an Online Student Portfolio @EvaVarga.netAs the focus in the classroom continues to move toward performance-based assessment, building a student portfolio is not only a valuable reflection of who they are but it also serves as an important assessment tool for parents and educators. Additionally, portfolios provide a dynamic presentation for college entrance exams and future job interviews.

Online Student Portfolio Options

Following are six tools that homeschool and public classrooms are using to promote deeper learning by encouraging students to build a collection of personal bests. Choose the tool that suits you – keep in mind what type of work you desire to showcase as well as the age of the student. You’ll also want to consider your level of comfort with material that is publicly accessible.

Blogs & Websites

There are many free blogging and website platforms that provide templates and tools that make creating a website easy and fun. You may already be familiar with Blogger, Weebly, Wix, or WordPress.  Discussing the pros and cons between each of these is fodder for an entirely different post and one that doesn’t really fit my blogging niche. I’ll thereby leave that to the experts. Keep in mind, however, that these options do not give teachers (or parents) any way by which to moderate its use by students.


Evernote does just about everything, it is like the Swiss Army knife of organization. As opposed to a blog or website, Evernote allows students to write, take photos, record audio, upload content with the ability to tag items, create notebooks for organization, and share content socially. It is very versatile as it offers a variety of apps that all work great together and can sync across multiple computers and mobile devices. Similar to a blog or website, however, Evernote doesn’t give teachers a way in which to moderate its use by students. Then again, unlike the alternatives, Evernote isn’t publicly viewable, either.

How to Build an Online Student Portfolio @EvaVarga.netGoogle

With Google Sites, students can create media-rich websites to display their work. By starting with a template and a site structure in place, students are able to integrate their work with other Google apps to create a comprehensive story of what they have learned. This obviously means that such apps as SlidesBlogger and YouTube integrate seamlessly.

As long as your students and you have Google Apps for Education accounts, you, as the teacher, have administrative control over who sees student sites and how they are used. Students can create work in Google Docs, save it in Drive, and create a showcase portfolio using Google Sites.  { Admin note: See comments to learn more }


Students 13 and over can use LinkedIn to create a professional presence online, showcasing their work, building out a network of people working in career areas of interest, and finding internships. LinkedIn is becoming a powerful tool to help students navigate their path from high school to college to career.


With Pathbrite, building a portfolio has never been easier. Drag-and-drop your best images, videos, cloud documents, presentations, LinkedIn recommendations, badges, eTranscripts, web links, and even audio recordings into your portfolios. The platform also has options for educators to optimize student learning and assessment tools.


Empowering students as young as five to independently create and organize their work in a digital journal, Seesaw helps kids develop their academic voice, and collaborate with classmates.

Other Tips for Creating an Online Student Portfolio

Unlike the physical copies of student work that you may have tucked aways in a cardboard box, anything placed on a website such as Google Sites or Weebly will not necessarily be available in five or ten years. Website companies come and go over the years so there is no guarantee that students will have access to their portfolio content in the future.

When creating online portfolios, emphasize with students the long-term uncertainty regarding availability of their digital portfolios and the associated content. I recommend that all students keep their valuable content (graphics, video, audio, text, etc.) stored locally as files on their own computers (and backed up) just in case.

When picking an online portfolio, look for portfolios where the students remain the owners of the data compiled. It’s important that students have access to the content of the portfolio beyond the course or college education.

Lastly, parents, teachers, and students should start at a minimum level and build toward higher levels of implementation as they gain skills and comfort with the process. To learn more about creating digital student portfolios, visit ePortfolio Levels.


June 14, 20126

Our beloved Sons of Norway Lodge in Central Oregon had an active youth group.  Our lodge here in Northern California does not.  This is one of the hardest things about moving – adjusting oneself to the changes and finding a new niche.  Not disheartened, over the past few months the kids and I have been working to establish a community of young families interested in learning about Scandinavia.  We started a Barnesklubb or youth group that meets one afternoon each month.  Our hope is that they will become members of the lodge – but ultimately, we just want to share our love of our heritage with others.

We thereby chose to take part in our local county fair – putting together a Youth Feature Booth to share with the public a little about our activities.  An added incentive was the premium offered per class – $100 for 1st, $80 for 2nd, $60 for 3rd, and ribbons for 4th and 5th.  As our new lodge is small and has no source of income (our former lodge owned their own building that they rented out for weddings, classes, etc.) – there is no funding for the club activities we desire to do.  I’ve had to pay for everything out of pocket.  Winning a premium would be awesome!

sons of norway

Sadly, the group here is so new … we didn’t have much help in constructing our booth. Those who have taken part in our activities were unable to help.  True to their Viking ancestry, my two didn’t let this deter them.  They said they would do it alone.  When Grandma was in town last month, we brainstormed ideas and they settled upon a Viking ship to represent our focus on our heritage.  The kids painted the mast, unique shields with the flags of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland for the ship, the Sons of Norway logo for the mast, and drew out a dragon hull onto cardboard.  I cut it out for them as it required the use of an Exacto-knife.  I then helped them to tape the cardboard pieces together with shipping tape.

When we set it up, one of the fair coordinators came up to us with some misgivings and concern, “You realize,” she said, “the feature booths are for youth groups?”   “Yes,” I replied. “This is a youth group.”  “Where are the kids?  The kids are supposed to put the booth together.”  “These are are the only two active members,” I replied.  “Oh!” she exclaimed in surprise and walked away.

With that, my husband cautioned us not to expect much.  “Don’t get your heart broken if you don’t win,” he said to us.  I assured him that winning was not our primary goal.  Most of all, we want others to simply have knowledge of us – perhaps to take part if they are so inclined.  I should have realized he was foretelling the future.

sons of norway vikingWe then walked over to see our other entries – the kiddos had each entered a few “Arts and Crafts” as well.  They were again disappointed.  Those that know me personally, know that I do all I can to teach good sportsmanship and humbleness in my kiddos.  We have been taking part in the fair since the kids were toddlers.  We use it as a means of learning from others and to seek new inspiration for creative projects and handcrafts.  We look at individual entries carefully and evaluate what was done well.We attended the fair on opening day – eager to see the other exhibits as well as to see how we fared.  

We allowed the anticipation to build by first walking through the commercial exhibits.  We then browsed all the exhibits and entries en route to where our booth was located near the rear of the building.  By the time we arrived at our booth, we knew there was only one other booth in our division – Junior Feature Booth.  While we were in the “Activity” class – the other was in the “Fair Theme” class.  Knowing therefore that we had no other competition – or perhaps only one other competitor if they judged the division as a whole rather than by class – we expected to do pretty well.  We were heartbroken to see that we didn’t receive any recognition whatsoever.   

I honestly believe that I am NOT one of those moms that feels my children are entitled to accolades.  I don’t give them false hope or praise.  I am the first to admit when they don’t put in their best effort or when I can see areas of needed improvement.  The focus of this blog entry, however, was on the Barnesklubb Youth Feature Booth.  Regardless of how the kids fared in the Junior Still Exhibits “Arts & Crafts” division, the lack of any ribbon whatsoever for our Youth Feature Booth perplexed us.  If there were other entries with whom we could compare – we perhaps could have come up with some theories.

I inquired with a volunteer on hand who led us over to one of the judges – the same woman who had questioned us earlier about the lack of other youth.  As she spoke, she gave me the impression that someone else judged the booths but I can not be certain.  She stated that the judge had felt our booth didn’t have a clear message.  That we failed to utilize the 10′ x 10′ space effectively.  They don’t like people to walk into a booth and thereby the pictures on the back wall were too small.  There was no lighting.  “The judge thereby decided not to award it at all.”  Essentially we took this to mean we had been disqualified.

viking boat fair boothAccording to the County Fair Exhibitor Guidebook, Junior Feature Booths are judged using the American System of Judging and use the following score card:

      • Title  10
      • Subject  10
      • Conveys Message  30
      • Holds Interest  15
      • Appearance  10
      • Workmanship  15
      • Lighting  10

 100 possible points

So what does American System of Judging  mean?  I did a little online research and came upon the following clarification:

A rank-order scoring system which awards the top exhibitor 1st, another 2nd, 3rd, etc. based on a score is called the “American System” or the “Peer System.” There may also be special categories such as “Top of Class”, “Best of Show”, etc. While the American system uses standards and requirements, it primarily uses the idea of competition between exhibitors, pitting one competitor against another to establish the rankings. In the Olympics, there can be only one gold, silver, and bronze. That is the “American system” of awards.

In the “Danish System” sometimes called the “Group Method”, exhibitors are measured against standards, not ranked against other exhibitors.  In 4-H, and in many junior classes of events in state and county fairs, most judging involves the Danish system of judging. In this system, the judges do not judge one person’s work by comparing it to another’s. Instead, a judge determines whether the exhibitors meet or exceed standards. Often a score sheet, available from the county 4-H office, is used to help the judge group exhibitors consistently.

Wow!  So based upon this information, we should have been compared to other exhibits in the same class (there were none) or perhaps the same division (there was only 1 other).  The woman I spoke with this afternoon said,  “The judge thereby decided not to award it at all.”  She further added that she would give me the score sheet the judge used to score our booth when we picked it up at the end of the week.   Score sheet? Sounds to me like they were using the Danish System of Judging.

I am so frustrated.  If there were other booths that had better met the qualifications or received a higher score, I could understand why we had not fared well.  But this was not the case.  There was no competition.   I thereby do not understand.  How then, do I explain the results to the kids??


June 15, 20101
This is the first year that I have opted administer Charlotte Mason style exams with Buddy. I have never done any formal preschool type lessons with him.  Rather, I’ve allowed him to explore his interests and occasionally squeeze in lessons when I can catch him in the right mood. Formally, he does math and mini lessons in reading and writing.  He sits in on science and history lessons and I’ve gradually required more from him in terms of output. 

1. Which was your favorite read aloud book from this year?  Why? 

Percy Jackson.

2. Can you retell a part of your favorite read aloud?

All of it.   

History / Geography:

1. Tell me what you remember about Muhammad OR Charlemagne OR Eric the Red OR Leif Ericsson OR another historical figure of your choice.

(will add his response soon)

2. Who were the first Europeans to discover North America?

The Vikings

3. Show me Great Britain, Romania, Honduras, New Zealand, France and Scandinavia on the map. What can you tell me about one of these countries?

Buddy could only show me where Russia and Norway are located on the globe. We’ve obviously got some work to do.

1. What was your favorite science unit this year.     SPACE

2. Tell me something you have learned about space.

I learned that there are 8 planets in our solar system.  They revolve around the sun.  The planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.  Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune!

3. Tell me about your favorite planet.

Jupiter is my favorite because it is the biggest.  It is a gas giant.  It has lots of moons.  Jupiter has a small ring.

Music / Art Appreciation:

Here is what Buddy said about learning piano and guitar.

My favorite songs that I like to play are I Was Working on the Railroad, a folksong.  I also like A Horse with No Name that I am learning on the guitar.


1. What can you recall about The Twelfth Night.
I liked The Twelfth Night a lot.  It was about a ship hitting rocks during a storm and sinking. The captain threw everyone off and then he jumped in but he didn’t lose his hat because it was strapped onto his chin, I think.  The captain and this one girl swam up onto a beach.  Then the girl wanted to be like a boy. 
2. What was your favorite scene?
My favorite part was the ship wreck in the beginning. 
Field Trips:
1. Of all the trips we’ve taken this year, which one was your favorite?  Why?
Pine Mountain Observatory because we got to see the big telescopes 
2. Describe two things that you learned on this trip.
I learned how the telescopes work and what the stars look like.
What would you most like to study or are most looking forward to studying in the coming year?
I want to study more about the Asteroid Belt. 

June 15, 20105
As summer has arrived, we opted to end the term with Charlotte Mason style exams for the second time.
Poetry/Memory Work:
This is one area in which I continually drop the ball.  I’d love to incorporate this into our curriculum, I just haven’t been able to do so thus far.

1. Which was your favorite read aloud book from this year?  Why? [The Named; The Lost Years of Merlin; 21 Balloons; Odd and the Frost Giants; Into the Land of the Unicorn (Unicorn Chronicles book 1); Strawberry Girl; Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief; Bud, Not Buddy; The Ahkenaten Adventure (Children of the Lamp trilogy book 1); The Adventures of Robin Hood]

My favorite book this year was The Ahkenaten Adventure because I consider Gins as magic people like fairies.  I also like it because they went to Egypt and slept outside by the pyramids.

2. Can you retell a part of your favorite read aloud?

I liked the whole thing.  One part that stands out when they went to Egypt.  They slept outside by the pyramids. They had a picnic by using their magic powers to make the food they wanted.   

History / Geography:
We didn’t even come close to finishing The Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages.  We are presently on chapter 18 of 42 … even if we work hard through summer, I doubt we’ll finish by September.  Oh well.  I’d rather move at a pace that is comfortable to ensure they have a firm grasp of the chronology than speed through. It is not a race after all. 

1. Tell me what you remember about Muhammad OR Charlemagne OR Eric the Red OR Leif Ericsson OR another historical figure of your choice.

(will add her response soon)

2. Who were the first Europeans to discover North America?

Leif Ericsson was the first European to discover North America.  He discovered the northern coast of Canada. He came over from Greenland.

3. Show me Great Britain, Romania, Honduras, New Zealand, France and Scandinavia on the map. What can you tell me about one of these countries?

Scandinavia includes Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark.  The first three countries are so far up that it is really cold.  The northern parts of these countries are in the Arctic Circle.  They eat lots of fish.  In Norway, they eat lefse and flatbread.

1. What was your favorite science unit this year.     SPACE

2. Tell me something you have learned about space.

I learned that there are 9 planets in our solar system.  They revolve around the sun.  The planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.  Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto! Pluto is at the end but I still consider it a planet.  

3. Tell me about your favorite planet.

Pluto is my favorite planet.  I learned that Pluto is a Dwarf Planet.  That makes me sad.  It is smaller than our moon.  It has three moons of its own, the biggest is called Charon.

Music / Art Appreciation:

We didn’t study composers or artists as we have in the past.  However, both kiddos began taking piano lessons.  Through their studies, they have been introduced to new composers.  Here is what MeiLi said about learning piano.

My favorite songs that I like to play are Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven and Marche Slave by Tchaikovsky.


I selected  The Twelfth Night because it is one of the plays that will be performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this year.  I had expected to attend a performance in the summer and thereby sprinkled different readings throughout the year.  As we progressed, I discovered that they have a Family Performance and figured this was a better option for us as it would be our first performance of this caliber.  Unfortunately, The Twelfth Night will not be performed until September so we have several months yet.

1. What can you recall about The Twelfth Night.

I liked The Twelfth Night a lot.  It was about a brother and sister that got separated during a storm when they were on a ship.  The girl washed ashore with the captain.  She disguised herself as a boy.  This led to lots of confusion when her brother later came to town.
2. What was your favorite scene?
My favorite scene was when they all got mixed up.  
Field Trips:
1. Of all the trips we’ve taken this year, which one was your favorite?  Why?
My favorite field trip this year was the Pine Mountain Observatory because I like space and they study space up there. 
2. Describe two things that you learned on this trip.
I learned how the big telescopes move and how they find the galaxies.  When we look them, we see what they looked like millions of years ago.  I also learned how to see the constellations in the sky like the Big Dipper. The hottest planet is Venus because it has all these gases that trap the heat from the sun inside like a blanket.
What would you most like to study or are most looking forward to studying in the coming year?
I am looking forward to studying the human body in the next year.  I am also excited about learning about Africa with my best friends Jesse and Maggie. 

June 24, 20092

As summer has arrived, we finished the term with Charlotte Mason style exams for the first time. I recorded her answers which was a lot of fun for her and for me. All of her answers were narrated and she worked all but two math problems mentally (#5 and #6). Here are the questions I asked… here responses are shown in green.

1. How many dimes are in $1.00? Ten
2. How many quarters are in $0.50? Two
3. How many nickels are in $0.20? Four
4. I give you five boxes. Each box has two cookies in it. How many cookies did I give you? Ten
5. Sally bought 356 peanuts on Monday and 167 peanuts on Tuesday. How many peanuts did she buy altogether? 523
6. There were 700 children at a park playing. 468 of them were boys. How many of them were girls? 232
7. What is 4 x 3 ? 12

8. What is 5 x 6 ? 30

Poetry/Memory Work:

Much to my chagrin, we didn’t do much memory work this year. DD did learn one verse from a Mandarin song, which she recited perfectly.

1. Which was your favorite read aloud book from this year? (Farmer Boy, The Egypt Game, Bat 6, The Klipfish Code, Meet Kirsten, Kirsten Learns a Lesson, Kirsten’s Surprise, The Phantom Tollbooth, Tales from the Odyssey, Up Close: Jane Goodall) Why?

My favorite read aloud book was The Klipfish Code and The Egypt Game. I liked The Klipfish Code because it was in Norway and we’re are Sons of Norway lodge members. I learned that if you didn’t follow the rules of the Nazis you would get taken away. I liked The Egypt Game because we learned about Egypt and the kids in the book had a secret game.

2. Can you retell a part of your favorite read aloud?

First it was just two girls and one little brother and then they asked two boys to join them. One of the boys didn’t really like it but the other boy did. They played The Egypt Gametogether, all 5 of them. The little boy had a toy octopus and he lost it there. They looked everywhere and they finally found it.

The game involved a bird bath and a sculpture that they found. They put it on top of the bird bath and it was the queen. They checked out books from the library and learned more about Egypt and started using Egyptian hieroglyphic for words.

1. Write in your best handwriting…
“Good morning, Jimmy,” she greeted him. “My, we all looked spruced up.”

History / Geography:
1. Tell me what you remember about Cyrus the Great OR King Nebuchadnezzar OR Alexander the Great OR Sargon.

Alexander the Great was the ruler of Greece, Egypt and the lands all the way to India. He was only twenty-two when he conquered all of that. He wanted to go even farther and conquer India but his knights didn’t want to. He realized this and changed his mind and he stayed with the stuff he already had.

2. Describe how they built the Great Wall OR the pyramids OR .

The pyramids were built with big blocks. They made the blocks by hand. First they made mud and sculpted it like a block and let it dry in the sun. They then set the blocks on top of another block to make the pyramids. It took lots and lots of soldiers to carry the blocks because they were so big. It took a log time.

3. Show me Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mesopotamia, Greece and Norway on the map. [Perfect accuracy.]

1. Tell me something you have learned about the earth.

The earth’s outer most layer is called the crust. Then the mantle or magma. Then it’s even hotter in the outer core. Then the inner core is even hotter, it is so hot and with all the pressure it is very solid. Solid.

There are different kinds of rocks; sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous. Igneous rocks come from out of lava. If it cools very slowly, it can form crystals. If it cools fastly, there are no crystals at all. Just very tiny. Not so big ones. Sedimentary is formed by shells and dirt and dead animals. Sometimes they form fossils and sometimes they get to be rocks. This happens by lots of pressure and many years. Heat and pressure make metamorphic rocks by changing other rocks.

Volcanoes erupt when lots of magma comes up through a hole and oozes out, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. And they can make lava tubes and cinder buttes. The closest to us is Pilot Butte, Awbrey Butte, and Lava Butte.

If an earthquake happens, hide in door entrances or under tables.

2. Tell me about your favorite animal.

Cheetahs and Dolphins and my most favorite animal is Penguins. Penguins live in Antarctica. It is very cold there. They get to see the Aurora Australis. They are yellow on their necks and a little orange. Their flippers and back are black. Their bellies are white. Their beaks are orange. They do not fly, they swim. They are a birds. They have a backbone. Penguins eat fish. They swim together in big groups. When they have babies, the mommy lays an egg. The egg goes to the daddy while the mommy collects food.

Music & Art Appreciation:
1. Which composer did you like the best [Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel]? Which piece was your favorite?

My most favorite composer that we learned about was Handel. My favorite piece was Royal Fireworks Music because the lyrics were funny when King George’s pants caught on fire.

2. Which artist did you like best? Which was your favorite piece and why?

My favorite artist was Degas. My favorite piece was The Little Dancer because I was taking dance class when we learned about him. [We actually studied Degas during her Kindergarten year… ]

[Another area that I didn’t get to as much as I had hoped. We read only two as retold by E. Nesbit; MacBeth and A Winter’s Tale.] Which Shakespeare play was your favorite?

The Winter’s Tale because it had a bear in it and most of Shakespeare’s plays don’t have a bear.