As parent teacher conference week approaches, I look to what we have done as a class so far, as well as the progress each child has made since the beginning of September. It is a time for parents and teachers to come together to talk about challenges and goals, as well as a time to reflect. One of the authentic assessment tools we use is a portfolio. Portfolios are collections of work samples and photographs, which can be thought of as the companion pieces to the narrative reports which will go out in a couple months. In this way, we hope to both tell you about your child at school, and show you what they have accomplished.
Most of the time, I curate their portfolios, selecting and organizing work and photos into categories (social emotional/language and literacy/mathematical thinking/science/social studies). However, three or four times a year, each child gets to select pieces for their portfolios. They get out their two main binders – their poetry anthologies and their memory books. I encourage them to look at each and every paper, and to select only one out of each notebook that they are proud of and want to share with their families. In this way, they learn that doing good and careful work is important, and to look at their projects with a critical eye. They notice when they rushed through something, compared to when they took their time and even returned to a piece to make it something to be proud of.
Their portfolios often become a treasure to look at during quiet times of the day. Children and parents are welcome to look at them at any time, and will be sent home at the end of the year.