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With portfolios it sounds like you need to break down your grade more.
Remember we are dealing with a short term gratification generation. If you are
expecting them to keep track of everything and turn it all in at the end of
the semester for one big fat grade, I'm afraid it won't happen.
Decide what it is you want. If you want them to see the growth that is taking
place through the use of the portfolio, then have peers examine the portfolios
and do a critique sheet. Have students visit their portfolio often to evaluate
their work based on what ever it is you want them to look at that time.
Example: Choose two works that show progress in the use of water color
techniques and color theory. Walk them through evaluation or critique process
on an overhead during a class so that again, they can't blow it off.
Art 3 students make a contract with me on what they will work on during the
third quarter. I still have to prompt them to make the date, and they are way
more motivated than Art 1.
In other words I hate to say it but, high school kids need "baby steps" toward
delayed gratification. Especially if you are dealing with a large portion of
high risk kids. They have to taste success in order to get hungry for more.
Good Luck. I did the portfolio marathon grading one Christmas vacation too. I
re-evaluated, just like you are doing. Ah, the search for a better way. Don't
ya just love teaching? Suzette