I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Annual Portfolio, Part 2

As promised, I thought I'd share my annual portfolios today.  If you are unfamiliar with what a portfolio assessment is or why they are a helpful homeschooling tool, be sure to check out Part 1 of this two part series.

Here's a quick peek at mine.

Throughout the year, I compile the children's written work in these accordion-style folders.  With a tab for each subject, they make a handy spot to stash things away for more concentrated organization at the end of the year.   You'll notice the very intentional color choices for the accordion files.  Once again, an example of how I color-code our school day.

Once I am ready to sit down and actually create our portfolio, I look through all of these work pages...math sheets, spelling tests, creative writing assignments, handwriting practice pages, etc....and select one sample of each from the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, and the end of the year.  I can choose to be very purposeful in my selection...to save a writing project that was particularly important or special...or just randomly choose three pages.  The point is, I choose a few samples from EACH subject in order to clearly show progress from the beginning to the end of the year.

I can then feel COMPLETELY free to toss the rest.  As I mentioned earlier, it would be impossible to save every page my children ever finish.

Then comes the portfolio...I use a 3-ring binder with divider tabs to organize the work from all my children...an accordion file, file folders, or banker's box would work just as well.  

I had hopes, long ago, of making a binder for each one of my children every year, but as I now have five kids, the logistics of finding space to store five new binders each spring would be impossible. Plus, we do much of our studies together, so the binder inserts would get a little redundant.  

I divide the portfolio into the following sections:

Group Bibliography

1.  A  complete list of subjects we have done together as a group...Bible, history, science, art, etc.  I note every book that we have used for that subject.  Since our history curriculum consists of dozens and dozens of "real life" books, I just note the bibliography info of the curriculum guide on the main bibliography page and then list the books on a separate sheet.  I keep a running list of these historical books all year long, print it off in the spring, and add it to the binder.

2.  A photocopy of the Table of Contents page of any encyclopedic type books that we have read portions from.  I highlight the sections that we completed.

3.  list of all the read alouds that we enjoyed together.  Again, I keep a running list on my computer all year long so that I can just print it out when I am compiling the binder.

Field Trips

1.  A field trip form that details where we went, when we went, contact info, and a brief synopsis of what we did there.  

2.  A clear plastic sleeve to keep any ticket stubs, brochures, printables from the field trip locations as proof of our visit.

3.  Photo sleeves to display pictures of our field trip.  The last few years, it has been easier just to put them all on a disk and toss it in with the tickets and pamphlets.  Either way, pictures are great "proofs" and a nice way to remember the great travels we took together.

Special Projects

1.  A list of all non-book, non-worksheet related studies such as youtube videos we watched, audio programs we listened to, science projects we completed, etc.  I make sure to record the date and a short description (3-4 words) of each project.

2.  Photo sleeves or a CD of pictures of our completed projects.  For lack of space, we cannot keep them all, but the pictures help to retain the memory.

Homeschool Co-op

1.  A hard copy of our co-op schedule that lists our basic units of study/book club lists for the year.

2.  If we happen to do a group skit or performance at the end-of-the-year spring program, I include a copy of the script.

3.  Photographs or photo CD of co-op pictures from the year.

Sample Work

1.  Divider tabs for each child.

2.  A bibliography page for the books that each individual uses for subjects like math, language, phonics, etc.

3.  A copy of the Table of Contents of encyclopedic-type books that each child read only portions from.  I highlight the sections that he/she read.

4.  Three individual work samples from each subject.

5.  A clear plastic sleeve to hold any awards/certificates that each child earned throughout the year from church, piano lessons, community sports, county fair, etc.

Project Packs

1.  A large manilla envelope that holds any small projects that can not be hole-punched but were deemed "save worthy"...lapbooks, journals, mini books, etc.

A Final Word

I label the spine of each binder with the school year, the initials of each child included, and the grade levels of each.

So, that about sums up our annual portfolio assessment binders.  Other items/topics that could someday find their way into our binders include:

Report Cards/Highschool Credits
Medical/Immunization Records
Apprenticeship Hour Log
Annual Achievement Test Scores (I currently keep these elsewhere.)
Extracurricular Log
Leadership/volunteer Log
Certifications/Trainings Received
Employment Experience

For more information in creating an annual portfolio take a look at these additional resources.


  1. You're so organized. Love it! Great tips. Thanks. :)

    1. Heidi,
      Contrary to what it might seem, I keep these binders because I am not by nature ORGANIZED. Thanks for your encouraging words!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. It's great to see how other families make their portfolios. I think I'm going to have to pick up some of those accordion folders for next year. Right now I just have a huge jumbled stack of papers for each child.

    1. Paula, I bought them in the dollar section of Target a few Septembers ago, but have seen them there a few times since.

  3. I color code too! LOL I usually let the kids chose what color they would like for the school year. Last year my oldest was black, middle was blue and youngest was green. I get all their notebooks, binders and folders in that color! It does make things easier to find!

    1. Sure does. I think I'd lose my mind trying to remember whose is whose.

  4. I love the "freedom to toss the rest"! This is great system! I think it meets our needs perfectly and suits our limited space with moving with the military every 2-4 years. Good job!

    1. It's always hard to make the "toss" knowing how hard the kids worked all year. But, in the end, space is a hot commodity around our tiny house.

  5. I'm so excited to start keeping track of this. I think my main reason for doing it (since my state doesn't currently require it) would be to show it to my hubby. He has a tendency to wonder what we've done, and "how well homeschooling worked this year" all the time! I feel like I started my organizing a tad late this year, but I'll give all the ideas I've compiled the "trial run" this year, and hopefully we'll have a great plan of what works best for us by 2014-2015 school year!

    I also love your "freedom to toss" system. A few years back I had started taking digital pics of things I had kept, so I could toss them. I currently still have 3...maybe more? (gulp) BINS in my attic full of "keepsake" work and drawings and projects. My mom kept EVERYTHING my brother and I did in school, and when he unexpectedly passed away 8 years ago, it was neat to see the little things he wrote and colored. But as I have FIVE children, keeping it ALL doesn't work as well here. Plus I have tried to convince my mom that I can't use the fear of something happening to my kids as a reason to hoard everything. Digital pictures have been a great, space saving way to keep her happy, and my house a little more organized!

    Sorry for the digression! Thanks for sharing your organizing tips again! :D

    1. I love the digital picture idea. Sometimes I consider my blog "digital proof" that we homeschool.

  6. Question: What do you do with your homeschool lesson plans at the end of the year? Would it be easier to just keep that along with a selection of the student's work from the year? I really like your set up, however, as it makes sense & is neat and clean (i.e. no highlighting or scribbled teacher's notes ala MY lesson planner post school year).
    What are the keys to making this happen DURING the year? I mean, do you intentionally keep separate records of specific things while you are doing them or can you just use your stored student work and lesson planner as a reference at year end? (I'm a check-list kind of girl, so knowing what I need to keep track of specifically through the year would be helpful.)

    1. I would love to know the answers to Bethanys questions since I too have wondered if my planner and a few samples are enough to become the portfolio. I love what you have laid out and i plan to give something similar a try this year.

    2. I keep my planners from year-to-year. You could include them in your binder as most planners have been 3-ring punched. But, I do not. I keep all my old planners in one spot.

      For the most part, I record as I go. I keep running documents on my computer that I just add to every few days. You can find out more about that here>>http://www.theunlikelyhomeschool.com/2015/06/a-video-peek-inside-our-annual.html

    3. Thank you! I'll check out that video :-)

  7. Exactly what I needed to see, had it in my head, thanks for giving me a visual!



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