Sunday, 6 April 2014

Portfolio Based Language Assessment in the ESL Literacy classroom: on to the implementation

Since I started my training as a PBLA Lead teacher in January 2014, I have been busy exploring different ways of enhancing PBLA with the ESL Literacy learners. Learning about it turned out to be a journey of self reflection about my teaching beliefs and practices. Along the way I discovered that PBLA for me can not be anything else but instructional philosophy. While struggling to incorporate PBLA component into planning, curricula, agendas, schedules, I realized that it wasn’t the right place to start: it starts deeper than planning, it starts with my understanding of teaching and learning, my belief in its powers and importance for the learner. I have also come to understand that I won’t be able to and most importantly I do not have to for the best interest of the learner foresee everything. Instead, things will be happening in the classroom beyond my lesson plans and I will be right there to let them take us to new horizons.

I am certainly no stranger to PBLA. The difference is that now I approach it with more confidence and dedication: before I would plan to incorporate different parts of the PBLA within instruction but now I start with it to plan the instruction (hope it still makes sense:)). I am about to proceed with the implementation stage of the PBLA training. I decided that I will be sharing the resources that I develop during this process with my colleagues on my blog and Tutela. 

In the beginning of the year, we (my learners and I) tried to work on better learning management skills by setting up personalized binders. Therefore, the learners in my class already have their own binders and are familiar with the filing system. 

However, as you can see from the pictures taken sometime in September, the binders that we have established are a bit different in content from learner portfolios. Since now is the beginning of the new term for LINC classes, it is perfect timing to revise our binders and set new parameters for their content. I looked at a few samples of Learner Portfolio Inventories available on Tutela and put together an inventory that would best suit my learner group and my teaching style. It is available below. As an ESL Literacy practitioner, I am trying to be very consistent in terminology and symbols that I use for learning management. Pictorial representation that I use for skills, categories and instructions are reappearing on different  materials including inventories, check lists, learning logs, tasks and worksheets. I hope you will be able to see it once there are more samples to share. For example, we have been using the following coding:

About Me


I was able to use these lovely images courtesy of - an outstanding resource of free images.

The first step in the implementation process is the Needs Assessment and Goal Statement, therefore below there are links to my Needs Assessment package. They can be used as samples to create your own materials adapted to the needs of the learner group. I often revisit materials used in class to redesign and change them according to my observations. It is a part of professional development and growth. My methods are changing, I find new ways, I look at things differently, I discover things that I might have not been able to see before. 

To sum it up, there is a quote I discovered on Facebook that perfectly describes my experience with PBLA for ESL Literacy:

My Resources:


  1. Svetlana - good idea to post your thoughts here. I think that PBLA will be a huge paradigm shift for many of us. Do you have a module template you use for lesson planning? If so, could you share one?? Thanks - I have been looking for something!

  2. Finally I have found something I can use!! Thanks, Svetlana, for all of your work. This is an excellent resource!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm new to Literacy. Your ideas are most helpful!

  4. Svetlana, at my school we are just now getting ramped up for PBLA. These resources you've developed are going to help both me and the level one instructor so much. Thank you! They are better than what comes with the language companion, in my opinion. They are geared toward the foundations and Phase I literacy learners. Yay!

    1. Hi Kelly! Happy New Year!
      Thank you very much for your comment. You may find more ideas here:
      I'm updating this folder as new resources become available. We have missed you at #LINCchat:) Svetlana

  5. Svetlana. Thank you for this very helpful age. Could you share with us what you and your class have done for "Reflections"?

  6. Arrgh! I mean this very helpful PAGE! Damned autocorrect. Sometimes I get tired of its shirt.

  7. Interesting & helpful. Thanks for sharing Svetlana.


#LINCchat turns two!

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