Master of Arts for Teachers (MAT) Portfolio


The Teaching Portfolio is a three-credit independent study project that each MAT candidate must complete and present to a two-person committee following the completion of twenty-seven credits of course work. This portfolio, which will reflect the candidate’s own individual teaching situation as well as the application of theory and practice from the twenty-seven credits of course work, will be a compendium of documents, lesson plans, realia, and supplementary teaching materials pertinent to the work situation (teaching level, class focus, particular school district, etc) of each candidate.

After the two-person committee has approved the final version of the teaching portfolio, the candidate will be required to make a presentation, or defense, of this project, which usually lasts approximately one hour. The candidate will determine the date, time and location of his/her defense in consultation with his/her committee.

Visit the World Languages Institute MAT Portfolio web page for full details on committee selection, independent study course registration, and portfolio presentation (defense) scheduling processes.



Each candidate will normally prepare a total of four (4) thematic units based on the communicative approach for the teaching portfolio. These units are to reflect the grade level and materials that would normally be utilized in the candidate’s teaching situation, such as primary, middle or secondary school. Two (2) units are to be based on the textbook and teaching situation of the particular candidate. The other two (2) units are to be ‘dream’ units, in which the candidate develops age- and grade-appropriate materials that would be the ideal, and do not necessarily reflect the textbook, ideology and any limitations or restrictions – financial or otherwise – imposed by a school or district curriculum. It is perfectly acceptable, indeed encouraged, to utilize in the portfolio materials that were created by the candidate as final projects in the courses that were taken in the WLI. All the units should contain a web of interrelated ideas, and reflect a knowledge of and direct application of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standard for World Languages not only in the construction of the units and the individual lessons within the units, but in the assessment tools that accompany each unit. Special attention is to be paid to the different learning styles of individual students, which should be reflected in the individual lesson plans. The portfolio should contain an introduction, in which the candidate gives background information in regard to the type of student and district for which the portfolio was prepared, as well as the overall organization and logic of the units that are included.

For the presentation, or defense, of the final project, the candidate is encouraged to make use of whatever props or technological aids that will illuminate his/her facility with the communicative method and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standard for World Languages. Before handing in the final project, the candidate should proofread all the materials for proper spelling, grammar and written accents.

Basic Guidelines for Portfolio Development

Following is a checklist the candidate should complete while proceeding through the portfolio development process:
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Portfolio Planning Checklist doc

Planning Thematic Units

If you have decided on a topic, brainstorm all the ideas you can think of that are associated with that topic. Next, looking at all those ideas, identify the themethat seems to stand out for you from the ideas you generated. The development of a theme will force you to exclude some of the great ideas that you came up with, but don’t discard them. They may be very useful in the future when the same topic resurfaces again. Then, thinking in terms of where you want your students to be going, begin your planning by establishing your objectives.

Because objectives tell you what you want the students to be able to do when they complete the unit, this design process, called project management in business, is referred to as backwards design in education (Wiggins). At Rutgers, units are designed based on the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standard for World Languages. In creating thematic units and lessons, the designers can not really be linear thinkers. Instead, they have to think on multiple planes.

The first plane addresses the language functions that are associated with the topic. For example, if the topic is food, what does the student need to be able to do in reference to food. Does he need to be able to describe it, to ask for it, to identify it from a description, to purchase it, to prepare it, to tell whether he likes or dislikes, prefers or can’t stand it, and so on. For help in determining the language functions, consult the New Jersey Standard for World Languages and Bloom’s taxonomy.

In the second plane, the designers need to think about what vocabulary and grammar are necessary for the student to know in order to be able to do those things enumerated in the first plane. They also need to recognize the products, practices and perspectives that are integral to the target culture with regard to the topic and theme.

In the third, the designers need to identify possible activities that could incorporate the language functions, the vocabulary and grammar, and culture that have been identified as necessary for the student to be able to proficiently deal with this topic.

Once the designers have come up with some ideas for activities, they need to analyze the level of discourse in which the student will function within that activity - i.e. word level, phrase level, sentence level, paragraph level - and sequence them in that order according to the developmental level of the student.

The designers need to make sure that those activities address all the multiple intelligences. If all of the intelligences have not been addressed, they must create and incorporate into the plans relevant and logically sequenced activities to address the missing ones. The creation of a web will help facilitate this element of design.

Finally, a series of assessment tools need to be designed in order to determine where the students are on the learning continuum at any given moment. To be valid, these tools must assess the degree to which the students have reached the objectives and reflect the way in which the students were led to the objectives. The assessments should be as life-like as possible.

Checklist of Required Components in a Thematic Unit

1. One Cover Page

  1. Description of the Class
    1. Language Proficiency Level
    2. Grade Level
    3. School Setting (public/private; number of students per class; special considerations; frequency and duration of class meetings; previous language experience)
  2. Description of the Unit
    1. Theme
    2. Reason for Selection of the Theme

2. One Multiple Intelligences-based Web (graphic organizer)

3. One Unit Plan Inventory

4. Ten Sequential Lesson Plans

5. One Assessment Tool

6. One Rubric for Assessment (CAPS rubrics posted on the FLENJ website may be used)

7. One Bibliography of Resources (including websites)

8. Materials needed to carry out each lesson plan such as:

  • Game, game board, game cards
  • Map
  • Pictures
  • Poem, Song, Story
  • Any Graphic Organizer (Venn diagrams, etc.)

Reference Documents and Templates

This section contains the essential documents and templates that the candidate should use to create each thematic unit. At the beginning of the portfolio development process, the candidate should decide with his/her committee members which templates will be used for the Unit Plan Inventories and Lesson Plans.

Sample Standards-based Planning Web - used to brainstorm ideas when beginning each thematic unit:

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Standards Planning Web doc

Portfolio Rubric - reference to guide the development of each thematic unit:

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Rubric for Portfolios doc

Thematic Unit Project Outline:

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Thematic Unit Project Outline doc

Unit Plan Inventory and Lesson Plan Templates:

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Unit Plan Inventory Sample doc                    Lesson Plan Template doc


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NJDOE Template doc