Telling Your Story: Writing Portfolio Narratives

You have written and will write more reflections on your learning as part of the teacher education program. This series of narratives is your story of how you meet each of the TPEs. As you write each one-whether it is as a response to a course assignment or while completing the portfolio, keep in mind that the narratives will change as you mature and learn in teaching. The narrative response you make in the fall of the year will not be as sophisticated and complete as it should be after completing student teaching. Therefore, we refer to the narratives as "draft" responses to the TPEs. These will become your documentation of how much you have learned and grown throughout the program and thereafter.

It is best to complete your draft response to the TPE offline in Word or some other word processor. Be sure to use the grammar/spell-checker while editing. When you are satisfied with your response, copy/paste the text into the text window.

The narrative is your response to the TPE. Please consider the following suggestions as you compose your response:

  1. Write in first person. This is your story of how you meet the TPE.
  2. Use professional, descriptive language. Avoid clichés, slang, etc.
  3. Attach artifacts that provide evidence of your story. If you refer to a lesson you taught, attach the lesson plan. Be sure to reference the lesson plan within the body of the narrative. For example, "In my lesson on descriptive writing (see Descriptive Lesson below) ....." Do not attach artifacts for which there is no reference in the narrative.
  4. When attaching artifacts, be sure to adjust the title of the artifact to reflect the reason it is there. Include a sentence to focus the reader on what to look for in the artifact, e.g. Descriptive Language Lesson. "The sequence of events in this lesson provide a comprehensible set of experiences for second language learners that ,..." TaskStream provides the opportunity to rename files each time you upload the file. You can customize the name of the file to fit the use in the narrative.
  5. Do not lecture. The reader is interested your interpretation and reflection on your performance in the classroom with children and others. Copy/pasting verbiage from a text stating what teachers ought to do does not provide evidence that you are able to do what you have stated. Just tell your story and provide your interpretation of the artifacts you have provided.
  6. When you have completed your narrative, go back and read the full text of the TPE (Remember that it is reprinted in the directions section of each TPE).  As you read the TPE, evaluate your response to insure that you have addressed the TPE. Check the key points in the TPEs document for a final look. Be sure you have addressed each of the important features.

Narratives are often hard to begin as you have so much to say. Try starting with the minimalist outline: four paragraphs... such as 1 - introduction, 2 - Primary grade example, 3 - Upper grade example, 4 - Conclusion. Also try allocating one paragraph to each of the key points of the TPE. (Note - Response to TPE 14 follows the technology standards rather than this starting-point suggestion) Once you have something down, filling it out will be much easier.

Any images you insert in this tab will be inserted into text window along with your text. If you do not want the image viewed in that way, include them as labeled attachments. Note that there is a 250K limit on the size of pictures. Be sure your pictures are lower in resolution that 250K and, preferably, lower than 100K. To reduce the size of your image, there is often a "more" button under the "save as" option in the File menu when you work with the image software on your computer. Under "more" you can usually reduce the size of the image being saved to a much lower resolution. Be sure to save it under a new name as to not overwrite your original image.

Upload your artifacts through the attachments tab. The process for uploading your artifacts is the same as if you were sending an attachment through email. The first time the attachments are uploaded, they become part of your Mybrary and can be relinked to other TPEs. You can always check your Mybrary to see what you have on your list of attachments.
As you upload your attachments with the narrative response, you will have the opportunity to re-title the attachment in regular language, as opposed to shortened computer tolerant file names. Take advantage of that feature to be able to focus the reader's attention on the strength of the artifact for this particular TPE. Additionally, there is an optional textbox provided to add information about the artifact that is relevant to the TPE. Use the space to more closely focus on the artifact as it was referenced in the narrative.

When you are ready to have a faculty member comment on your work, go to Step 4 (Publish/Share). Select the last option - Request Feedback. As your portfolio is reviewed, comments will be recorded for each TPE. You may respond to the comments. You are encouraged to have a dialogue with reviewers to ensure you are on the right track.
There is also a button for sharing your portfolio over the web. Save this option for when you are ready to have the portfolio shared with others - such as school district personnel, etc. A unique URL will be generated that you may include in letters of introduction.

Remember - DO NOT SELECT "EVALUATE" until you are ready to have the entire portfolio assessed. You will have many opportunities to have your portfolio REVIEWED. You will be able retain those comments for future use. All reviewer's comments and your responses are viewable during the evaluation process.