Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Showcase Portfolio Time!

Gosh!  Another year down...it's so hard to believe!  I've not seen my students in almost two weeks, and I'm already missing their faces!  Of course, I am looking very forward to a productive summer, with the time to become more familiar with the common core, to get activities ready to support the common core, and to read lots of books and try to get some rest and relaxation!  

The end of our school year of course meant it was time for the students to get out their showcase portfolios!  This is such an exciting time, as the students get to look through their favorite work samples from each year they have attended our school, while also making decisions about the pieces they want to use to represent their learning this year.  

It's so much fun watching our students, finishing up their fourth or fifth grade year, looking back at their work from as far back as kindergarten!  They get a kick out of their beginning writing, their early math skills, as well as any pictures they find of themselves that were included!  They walk down memory lane, recalling specific activities they enjoyed, as well as recognizing how they have grown over the course of their elementary years. 

The structure for our showcase portfolios is that each year the students select pieces they are most proud of and that reflects the learning that has occurred over the year.   We encourage the students to select representations from each subject area and to select a minimum of five pieces.  We also encourage them to be sure their pieces reflect some type of learning they can talk about and/or that shows growth over the year. 

From where do the students select these pieces?  Well, it's a bit of a process!  First of all, the students do not take their work home when they finish it each day.  They, instead, put it in a hanging folder where they keep it safe until the end of the trimester.  (Our year is split into trimesters, versus quarters.)  At that point, the students select the pieces from the trimester that they want to reflect on and share at their student-led family conferences.   The pieces they do not select, now get to go home.  The pieces they do select and share at their conference are kept in a safe place until the end of the year.  Each trimester we add their selected pieces to that safe place with the pieces from the other trimesters. 

Once all three of their student-led conferences are complete, the students retrieve the portfolio pieces that they reflected on for each trimester (The pieces we kept safe), and choose from those to pick their final pieces of the year! Basically, they are picking the best of the best!  :-) 

Once the students select their favorite pieces of the year (a minimum of 5-7 pieces), they put them in sleeves (page protectors) with the grade level and year written on each sleeve (ie, Intermediate 2012-13).   They then put them in their Showcase Portfolio Binder (3" binder), and we keep the binder until they graduate from elementary (fifth grade).  

If the students have been at our school since kindergarten, they will have a binder full of representations of their learning from each grade level!  What an amazing way to see their growth over the years, and it makes a wonderful keepsake! 

Showcase portfolios provide a great opportunity for students to be reflective of their learning, as well as for them to see their own progression as learners! 

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