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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Write About It Wednesday: Student Portfolios

Write About It Wednesday Graphic

Hello there!

It’s about that time Kate and I get together for another Write About It Wednesday!  If you’re new to this series check our our previous posts here and here.

This Wednesday’s topic is Student Portfolios.

I have to admit that this particular topic had me confused for years as a teacher.  At my school we have student portfolios that move with our students from year to year and they must contain three writing samples from each grade.  For the portfolios that follow students, I use The Teacher Wife’s Friends Assessment.  I give it to my class 3x a year, and after scoring it with a rubric I make, it goes straight into their student portfolios. With the exception of these portfolios, there are no other guidelines for writing portfolios in our school. 

This gives me anxiety.

Do I keep every writing they ever do?
Do I send every writing home as soon as I read it or score it?
Do I hold on to sloppy copies?
What about that writing we did about that assembly that I never really looked at or reviewed or went over or collected?  Does that go in a portfolio?
Where are my Snickers bars?

What kind of folder do I use?
Should it have pockets?
What about a file folder?
What if the papers fall out?
Where are my Reese’s?

I could go on and on.

The truth is, at least in place where there are no set rules, that you should do what works for you.  Despite the lack of writing curriculum or guidelines in my school, I have taken the time to educate myself on Writer’s Workshop.  And through various workshops and readings, {plus 4 years of trial and error} I’ve figured out a few things:

*It is important to hold on to important writings. {In my case these are Common Core Aligned and have been edited or revised in some way.  I shoot for about 1 a month}.
*It is important that the writings in the portfolios show growth.
*It is important that writing portfolios are easy to organize

and this is the kicker…

*it is important that STUDENTS CAN ACCESS THEIR PORTFOLIOS easily or at any given time.

It’s important for students to be able to read over past writings to be able to evaluate their own work as they grow as well as for self-reflection.  They love to see how far they’ve come.  They love to see how they would take a writing from earlier in the year and “make it better”.  In fact, that’s something we will do before the year is up!
I’ve tried quite a few systems throughout the years and while they all had their pros and cons, ultimately they weren’t working.

Then I saw this pin:

magazines displayed in page protectors and hooked onto a curtain rod with circular hooks

{Click picture for source}

I was inspired!!!! 

I loved how the magazines {in this case} were easy to get to but didn’t take up valuable shelf space and I liked how you could immediately see what was inside {as opposed to rifling through a file folder}.

So this is what I ended up with:




How I did it is pretty self-explanatory, but allow me to explain anyway!  I staggered command hooks underneath my board.  I gave each student a portfolio cover and a sheet protector.  Then I handed back their work  {we didn’t start these portfolios until around Christmas time}, and they inserted it back to back {in order}.  I called them by group to hang up their portfolios.  Now they add it as they get it back, or I do it, or whoever has the job of teacher’s assistant.  It’s so easy!

But the best part is that they can access their portfolios at any time!  Many students choose to read their work during Daily 5, and they even read each others!  It’s pretty awesome!

Since I took the pictures above, I’ve added key rings for easy page flipping {without getting anything out of order}.

{“Apple” Writing here}

{“Community” Writing here}
{“Other Reindeer” Writing here}


I can honestly say that giving my students easy access to their writing portfolios {as well as encouraging them to read them!} has changed my writing program for the better this year. 

I hope I’ve inspired you to make your portfolios easy to access!  Not to mention the display looks adorable in the classroom!  We get compliments on our hanging portfolios all the time!

I’ve uploaded a copy of the portfolio cover I used to Google Docs.  You can grab it for free by clicking the picture:

Portfolio Cover Click
{Yours will not have our blog button on it! Promise}

We’d love to hear how you manage portfolios in your classroom!  Feel free to link up with any writing portfolio tip {it can even be an old post!}

If you link up please keep the following guidelines in mind:
*be a follower of both of our blogs.
*use the provided button {just save the image above and link it back here, or provide a link in the picture caption}.
*link to a post related to today’s topic.
*make sure you link to the specific post and not just your blog.

You can also leave a tip in the comments as well!  While your there, let us know of any topics you’d like featured in future “Write About It Wednesdays”.  We’d love some suggestions!

Click here to read Kate’s post on portfolios.  I can’t wait to read what she has to say.  {She always says the BEST stuff!}

Happy Writing!



  1. I use writing binders right - with dividers for different genres - but I love this idea - so I pinned it! I may just have to re-think my plan for next year.

  2. We love how you organize the kiddo's writing portfolios by hanging them on the wall! Super idea! Thanks for sharing!

    :) Tamra and Sarah
    First Grade Buddies

  3. I love that they can read them during Daily 5! That's a great choice to make. Right now all of my students' writing is in the sad, ugly filing cabinet, hidden from view. That makes me unhappy. We have talked about doing "rough draft binders" next year, which would be a way to keep all of their writing, from beginning to end, in one place.

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  4. You are so organized!! I love the sheet protectors that hold the craft that matches your project. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing that cute cover page, too. Definitely cuter than anything I made!! I'm cracking up that you have two Joeys. You're in NJ all right!! ;)

    Thanks for the great ideas, as usual!!

    Second Grade Sparkle

  5. I love your portfolio display/idea. This is seriously a topic that has baffled me for years! I am pinning this idea so I can hammer it out for next year. I love your writing posts!!

    Primarily Speaking

  6. Thank you for this post. I enjoy the two perspectives!! This is the perfect solution for my room (next year!!) - I need something to put under my white board that is not distracting, I already use a ton of sheet protectors, and Command hooks anyway - so this fits right in!

  7. I love the portfolios-especially how the kids have access to them:)
    Thanks for sharing.

    The Resourceful Apple

  8. I'm so glad I found you through Anne at Looking from Third to Fourth!

    I love how you have displayed their portfolios for easy access! That is great!! I can't wait to see more ideas!

    We're your newest followers! ;O)
    Collaboration Cuties

  9. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your writing portfolios. I have writing porfolio pouches we created, but I think next year I'll do something like this. Thank you for the cover freebie and for sharing your ideas.

  10. I am so bad at saving student work!! I always feel like I need to send it home right away for parents to see... do you send home their portfolios periodically, or just at the end of the year? Also, how do you afford all of those sheet protectors?! It looks like you have a great system set up! Going to have to pin this one for next year :)

    PS: I would love to see you tackle the editing process for one of your Write About It posts! Editing is my most dreaded writing task! :)

    EduKate and Inspire

  11. I LOVE the writing portfolios!! So simple, but brilliant! Thank you for sharing! :)

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom


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