Paragraph Portfolios

At BHS, we teach our freshmen to write using PIE structure.  To give them multiple opportunities to practice, I asked students to create Google Documents that we called “Paragraph Portfolios”.  Students shared their portfolios with my email address, so I could view and edit their work at any time.  Students wrote about a paragraph a week, and I would give them feedback about as often, commenting on their paragraphs so they could improve their writing with each subsequent assignment.  Students could also use the comments feature to ask me specific questions about their writing.

All students used a template for their first PIE paragraph.  They kept a blank version of it in their document:

Topic Sentence:
Point:
Illustration:
Explanation:
Point:
Illustration:
Explanation:
Point:
Illustration:
Explanation:
Conclusion Sentence:

They had the option of using the template for as long as they needed it, discarding it when they felt comfortable.  By reading their paragraphs frequently, I could give students advice on when to move away from the template and when to return it if necessary.

At the end of the unit, students had a clear record of their progress and improvements from their first paragraph to their last.  I asked students to revise one paragraph for a grade; the other paragraphs were graded for completion only.  I’ve included my rubric below.

PIE Paragraph Rubric

Portfolio Requirements:
File is named Name – Paragraph Portfolio                           / 5
Portfolio contains 6 complete paragraphs                           / 40

Final Draft Paragraph’s PIE Format:
Paragraph has strong topic and conclusion sentences                / 5
The points work together to prove the topic sentence                 / 3
The paragraph flows well, with transitions between points       / 2

First PIE:
Point is clear and supports topic sentence                                     / 5
Illustration is a piece of specific evidence from the text             / 5
Explanation shows how the illustration proves the point          / 5

Second PIE:
Point is clear and supports topic sentence                                     / 5
Illustration is a piece of specific evidence from the text             / 5
Explanation shows how the illustration proves the point          / 5

Third PIE:
Point is clear and supports topic sentence                                     / 5
Illustration is a piece of specific evidence from the text             / 5
Explanation shows how the illustration proves the point          / 5

Total:    / 100

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