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Monday, May 21, 2012

Annual Portfolio, Part 1

As we wind down the year, I have begun organizing items for our annual Portfolio Assessment binder, a three-ring notebook that provides basic samplings of our year's activities and student work.  They are, essentially, primitive scrapbooks of our school year.  I put these binders together for a few different reasons.


1.  Portfolios provide a thorough paper trail for the state.   

Classroom teachers typically complete report cards and perhaps brief narratives to record the progress of a student.  As homeschoolers, however, we rarely assign a numerical "grade" to finished work.  So instead, our documentation of progress comes in the form of a sampling of student work...a portfolio of completed studies.  Although my state does not currently require me to gather/submit these samplings, I can not assume that the law will always stay the same or that we will ALWAYS live in this state.  I have chosen to organize these portfolios each year to stay "above board."

2.  Portfolios assist in recreating curriculum for the next child.  

As each of my children progress to the next "grade", I can flip through past portfolios as a reminder of what materials and subject matter I covered the last time I taught that grade.  Obviously, every child is different and so curriculum will always need to be tweeked, but at least I have a starting point in my planning.  Why re-invent "the wheel" when you don't have to?

3.  Portfolios can be a simple assessment tool from one child to the next.  

When I was a classroom teacher, it was easy to see what "the norm" was because I had twenty or more children with which to compare.  I could easily see who was excelling at creative writing, art, reading...all of the SUBJECTIVELY graded subjects...simply because I had multiple examples of completed work.  As a homeschool mom, it is sometimes hard to determine the performance level of my kids because I no longer have a wide range of examples.  By saving specific work samples each year, I can do a quick comparison to determine whether my current child is on track based on the examples of their older siblings.  COMPARISON should NEVER be the exclusive method for assessing a child, but it can be ONE of MANY helpful tools.


4.  The gathering of portfolio samples can be a useful review tool.  

As we approach the end of the year, I often have my kids help in selecting sample work to be displayed in their notebook.  This annual tradition has become a great way to review some of the concepts they learned and to relive some of the projects they made and field trips we took.  While they sort through their year's worth of work, their portfolio becomes a nice "high five" for them as they are able to see their progress from the first day of school to the last.  

5.  Portfolios are a simple way to organize "the pile."  

With three children in school, I amass quite a pile of school work throughout the year.  For obvious space constraints, it would be virtually impossible 
to save every piece of work or every project that each Little completes.  With some predetermined ideas of what constitutes "save worthy", I can feel free to keep what really matters and toss the rest.  As an added bonus, a portfolio offers an ORGANIZED method of saving those worthwhile items.

Although my kids do complete their share of worksheets through the year, much of their education comes in the form of living literature, projects, narratives, educational video/audio clips, and field trips.  So what do I put in our annual portfolios and how do I organize it all?

Well, stay tuned 'til Wednesday when I'll be sharing the nitty gritty of our binders, some helpful tips of putting one together, and some links to on-line resources in Part 2 of the Annual Portfolio series.  Hope you'll join me!

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16 comments:

  1. This is a great idea. I need to do something more formal to save their work throughout the year - other than just putting it in a random folder and putting it on a shelf. ;) I live in MI, and they don't require anything either. However, I want to get more organized in this area.

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    1. A folder full of stuff is a great idea! Portfolios look different from family to family. I just operate nicely with a binder, but one of my very best friends uses folders. Neither one is any more organized than the other. The point is, you're keeping a record. You'll be happy you did!

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  2. my state does require it as long as you are homeschooling through the county - we are technically registered under an umbrella school (also legal) but I keep binders of our work as we go - each year I begin a new one - but yours are more organized than mine- thanks for the inspiration!!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kelli. It's been nice having you along for the journey!

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  3. I've always liked the idea of having them for memories, and even did a couple when my oldest was younger. (She LOVES to look at them.) Sadly, I am just not organized enough to keep them up these days. LOL It's easier for me to chronicle our journey on my blog.

    I saw one mom using Project Life as a portfolio of sorts and it is amazing. I look forward to seeing more of your posts to see how you do it.

    Popping in from HipHH

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    1. I've never heard of project life. I'll have to look into it. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Maine requires us to keep a portfolios and ours look very similar to yours. (We just had our portfolio assessments Sunday! And all the kids moved onto the next grade! Whoop!) Looking forward to seeing your additional posts on your portfolios! I'm always looking for new ideas! Stopping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop!

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  5. Oh, I hope you don't mind but I shared your blog entry on my Facebook since I was asked about MY portfolios and I don't have any posts on them. Your portfolios look similar to mine so I thought I'd share for others to see. Let me know if you would like me to take it down!

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    1. Glad you were able to share the portfolio info with your readers. I'll have to pop over to your place and check it out. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. I am a huge fan of using portfolios as an assessment tool. Such a great resource you have showing others how to organize a portfolio.

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  7. This is such a great idea, especially with subsequent children. I also like the idea of having it to go back through, see areas that may have been challenging and overcome or things that may need to be worked on further for better understanding. Thank you for sharing your portfolio!

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  8. Super idea! I hadn't thought of using it for an "audit"- but from a military perspective, continuity books and folders are always helpful!!!!

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  9. We keep a portfolio throughout the year, but I really, really need to round it out with some pictures and things like this! I love to have something to show for each child at the end of a year, and it makes them feel so accomplished. I don't worry about needing to show anything to the state. Thankfully, our state is mostly free.

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  10. This was so helpful, thankyou!

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  11. Such practical cool stuff! Thank you!

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