Monday, June 3, 2013

Portfolio Parties

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!



  1. Oh what a great end to the school year. I wish my kids' school did something like this!

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

  2. I loved it when you introduced me to it last week and I love it even more now! I downloaded your freebies and will definitely have a portfolio party next year!
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. Bethany this is a fantastic idea! I will be doing this next year with my students. Thank you so much for sharing and for the freebies.

    Foreman Teaches

  4. I love that you create an opportunity for kids to show their parents what they've done. We do that at the beginning of the year, but at the end, they can really show how much they've grown!

  5. Reflection is something we do not five students enough time for - thanks for the reminder to have our students reflect!

    Mrs. Harris
    Mrs. Harris Teaches Science!