It is my last Monday of the school year! Only 4 more wake-ups! It was also field day today, the rain held off long enough for us to enjoy some games outside!
On Friday, I posted a briefly about our portfolio parties and received a lot of comments and questions about it so I thought I would share more details with you. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the finished portfolios, but I am hoping I can explain it well enough so you can create your own mind picture.
At the start of the school year I create a file folder for each child. During the first week I have the students write a paragraph about something they did over the summer. I don't grade it, but I do use it to evaluate where my kids are as writers. I label that piece, "first piece" and place it in their folder. As we work on different projects, writing pieces, etc. I make copes of it, or have parents sign and return the project and place it all in their folder. Any large items-books, posters, etc. I store in my classroom closet or in the case of the students' biome posters I have the students complete them a few weeks before the party so they can be on display right up until the party.
The week of the portfolio party I have the students fill out a self evaluation of their work. To do this I actually give them their file, point out their first piece, as well as any other noteworthy pieces I feel we have done for the year. The students then look through their things and complete their evaluations. You can download the evaluation papers I have my kids complete for free here.
I love watching the students go through their folder, it is amazing how many projects or activities they forget about. Watching them look through their folder is like a walk down memory lane. Once the evaluations are complete we glue a cover page onto a manila folder (one of my fellow teachers used large envelopes this year) and have them organize their items with their evaluation sheets into that folder. I give the students post-it-notes to label their favorite pieces so they can show them to their parents first.
The night of the portfolio party it is kid-centered. The school has an open house where parents and students can come and look at their portfolios. I normally have some type of snack in my room-this year it was food from the Philippines because we tied it in with International Day. I play soft classical music. When the parents and students come in, they sit together and look through the child's portfolio. I'm there to praise and support the child-but it isn't a conference time for me and the parents. It is a time for parents to be one-on-one with their kids.
I love the portfolio party for a number a reasons. I think it is important for kids to evaluate themselves and to be able to express what they are seeing. I also think that students grow so much in a year, but it is normally small incremental growth which can often be overlooked. Portfolios are a great way to show that growth that happened over the school year.
When the families have looked through their portfolio they take everything home (such a great way to clean out the classroom!)
Do any of you use portfolios? I'd love to hear how you use portfolios in your classrooms!