One Sunflower

winding up to wind down

on April 10, 2010

 

The last six weeks of school are the most intense weeks of the school year.  We repeat the same assessments that we did in the fall as well as plan kindergarten transition activities and ready each student’s portfolio to share with their parents at our last home visit for the year.  

Because of time constraints it is absolutely necessary that staff share the responsibility of putting portfolios together.  I divvy up my students – this year Maestra and I will each have 8 to do.  We use 6-8 pages of construction paper, bound together with a plastic comb.  The last page is always an envelope that we can tuck extra student work and photos into. 

One problem that has cropped up is that some staff members have a tendency to turn these pages into “memory books” instead of a document of student progress and achievement.   I understand their perspective.  These are kids that come from low-income families who often don’t have the opportunities or materials to put such books together for their children.  The children love receiving these books and many families treasure them. 

Two suggestions came out of our discussion this year as we debated how to begin the portfolio process.  1) Invite student family members to an evening session for creating memory books together, 2) designate 2 pages in the portfolio to have a “memory book” look to them and let those staff members with that expertise be responsible for those pages.

Our assignment is to put together a skeleton portfolio and bring it to our next staff meeting. Maestra and I haven’t had too many problems creating portfolios that are appropriate records of student progress.   I plan on doing the same thing I did last year – use my student’s goal sheets and the areas outlined in our assessment to structure the pages of the portfolios. I will have pages dedicated to the development of pro-social behavior, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive growth, literacy and language.  Photos and anecdotal records are usually the best way to document the progress of the students but our administrator has admonished us to keep them to a minimum or at least print them as inexpensively as possible.  (Many of our teachers have taken on this expense in the past and we are getting a clear message of “No” – not this year.)

One big difference will be the addition of student journal pages to the portfolio.  But rather than include the entire student journal, I intend to pull out pages that show progress through the pre-kindergarten writing benchmarks.  I know some people advocate for student involvement in making choices for material in the portfolio.  Because it is already a time intensive project, I am probably not going to do that.  The kids will have input into the cover design – I have yet to figure that out yet – but it will happen.

Portfolios become my “evening-in-front-of-the-tv” projects.  This weekend I laid everything out on my dining room table from two of my students and began to sort the pieces I think I’ll include in their books.  Sticky notes are attached to the covers listing pieces I have, photos I want to get printed, pages I need to copy in reduced form so I can fit more on a page.  It is fun to see how the kids have changed and grown – in their looks – and what they have become interested in and are doing.

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