I have said before how teaching writing was never something I automatically loved. In all honesty, I was asked to be in charge of writing plans during my second year of teaching and again during my third year. It grew me. It stretched me. I became a teacher who loved to teach writing. One thing we did early on in the year was begin our writing portfolios. I had very little experience with using portfolios, except what I learned in college. I wasn’t sure how they would actually translate into my own classroom or if I would even like them. I am here to tell you that I fell in love with them. We kept them each and every year.
1. They are perfect for parent conferences.
This ensured that I had authentic examples of writing on hand to pull for parent conferences. I didn’t have to quickly throw something together during the week before conferences. There was always something there that was current.
2. They were meaningful for students.
In our class we always said, “Our best writing stays at school.” This meant that the writing that went through the writing process and that the writing that we did on special occasions would always stay at school. At the end of each six weeks grading period, I would sit with kids in small groups and we would together make a list of what makes good writing. Then we would pull out all of our writing and the kids would choose the piece that they felt was their very best! They would rate it using a system that we had. I liked to also use this time to have them pick their top three to stay at school and would then send home the rest. This helped us make sure they weren’t too stuffy. In one of my schools, the writing samples would be turned in for our reading specialists to look over. But even if not, I did this process with my students because it was so meaningful!
3. Three words-Response to Intervention.
There were countless times that our writing portfolios helped provide authentic writing samples when I was trying to get a little one some intervention help or qualify them for testing. I was easily able to pull writing samples and show examples of concerns that I had.
4. They were a keepsake for parents.
Since all of our best writing stayed at school, at the end of the year these were a precious treat for parents and students to look at together. They would take them home at the end of the year in a portfolio pocket we would make together out of construction paper. They also enjoyed seeing how much their writing had grown from the beginning of the year to the end. It was truly a time of celebration!
Do you use writing portfolios already? I’d love to hear why you love them!
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