Student Portfolios

With testing season also comes the question: When we test in the mornings, what do we do in the afternoons??  We don’t want to further stress our kids out or place high demands on them.  But we also want to maintain order, and we definitely don’t have time to waste!!

Here’s one idea that has worked for me: Student Portfolios.

We use three-ring binders for our student portfolios, so that students can put things in, take them out, and rearrange them with relative ease.  I especially like the ones with the plastic sleeve covers and spines, so that students can make their own cover pages, back covers, and spine designs, and insert them into the plastic sleeves to keep them clean and looking professional (well, third grade professional!).

Usually, I like to have one binder for their entire portfolio, especially in elementary grades.  I think this helps teachers and parents see the whole child, as opposed to focusing on an academic weakness in one area.  But, I have also used separate ELA and math portfolios, and it is helpful to have more space to organize each one by standard.  Often, a math unit covers (or at least reviews) multiple standards, so the students can show off different work in different parts of their portfolios, even if it was from the same unit.  The disadvantage to this is that they may have one project they are super proud of and have trouble deciding where to put it because it falls under several standards.  If you tend to do larger projects that encompass more strands, then it might be best to simply use one portfolio per student.

PRO TIP: When working on student portfolios, I like to give my students a checklist to keep them on track.  I include things like: color in the cover, put all your math tests in your binder in order by unit, and choose your very best work from ELA write a reflection for why you are extra proud of it.

Here’s why working on student portfolios during testing season is secretly brilliant:

-Organizing portfolios is an administrative task that seems to take just the right amount of brain power.  Kids can still have conversations, but aren’t “all over the place.”

-It’s a nice self-esteem balance to testing.  Students can see how much they’ve improved since the beginning of the year, they can see how much they’ve accomplished, and they realize that yes, they have learned a LOT, no matter what happens with the test.

-It’s a stealthy way to review without actually reviewing.  Kids will naturally be curious and flip through that math quiz from September or take another look at that writing piece they did in November.  And when they do, they’ll be reminded of what they learned and what mistakes they made.  And this opens the door for them to ask a friend or the teacher for a quick explanation.

-Organizing physical objects helps organize the brain.  It’s true!  And we know our students have a ton of info floating around in their brains right now.

-It involves coloring.  We all know that coloring reduces stress.  So why not let the kids color in their portfolio covers and tabs??

Happy Teaching (with Portfolios!)
Christine Cadalzo

Give it a try and see for yourself!
Here are FREE student portfolio covers for first through fifth grades.

PRO TIP: Give kids TWO covers- one for the front and one for the back!