Presenting Themselves with Power and PassionReport as inadecuate

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Horace, v23 n1 Win 2007

An "Exhibition" is a demonstration of mastery on many levels. When students prepare and present portfolios of their own work to a public audience, they are demonstrating mastery of more than the traditional academic skills. The process that culminates in the exhibition teaches students to present themselves articulately and powerfully and to work independently to a high standard. People who know how to work and present themselves well are likely to be accepted--into a good college, a well-paying job, an important conversation. These skills, then, are at least equally important to what are more usually thought of as school skills such as reading, writing, and computation. Thus schools that teach children to be articulate and self-motivated are "deliberately and explicitly challenging all forms of inequity." Exhibitions are a product of a lengthy process on the part of both teacher and student. When students are asked to create a body of work for a portfolio that demonstrates their intellectual ability and work habits, they learn the patience and tenacity required to produce excellent work. Because students must create and revise enough portfolio pieces to meet the standard, they are coached by teachers to learn to work efficiently. Teachers help them learn how to work to high standards, and how to recognize when a high standard has been reached. They learn what they are capable of, what it means to do their very best. They learn what it means to work hard, to revise until they are satisfied. As they practice, these skills become habits. In this article, the author describes how students at Mission Hill School, a public school for kindergarteners through eighth graders in Boston, and Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens, Massachusetts, which serves seventh through twelfth graders, learn the ability to present themselves to others with power and passion through presentation of portfolios of their own work to a public audience.

Descriptors: Portfolios (Background Materials), Student Projects, Educational Practices, Public Speaking, Student Behavior, Student Attitudes, Independent Study, Self Esteem, Individual Activities, Elementary Schools, Secondary Schools

Coalition of Essential Schools. 1330 Broadway Suite 600, Oakland, CA 94612. Tel: 510-433-1451; Fax: 510-433-1455; Web site:

Author: Lyne, Heidi


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