Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Portfolios in Full Day Kindergarten

For the past 5 years, we have used portfolios in our Kindergarten classroom. Although we supplement our portfolios with digital documentation (e.g., SeeSaw and Twitter), we feel as though the physical portfolio is a valuable part of our program.

What does our portfolio look like?
We use a black binder with children's name on the edge. Inside each portfolio is a collection of children's documentation pieces and some carefully selected pieces of work (or photographs) in plastic sleeves which allows for it to be easily updated.

Who is it for?
The portfolio is created for and with the children. That being said, each month when we host Open House for families it provides an opportunity for children to share their learning. 

We do NOT include any assessment data in our portfolios since their primary purpose is for the children. All of our assessment information is collected seperately and use by educators for the purposes of planning.

Involving children in the process of their documentation by asking them questions or
encouraging them to document their thinking.

What is the purpose of the physical portfolio?
Everything is becoming digital, which is amazing! Depending on your classroom and the different levels of access to technology digital portfolios may be the best fit for your students.

The purpose of the portfolio is to make visible the children's learning and to create an artifact that they can reference and reflect on. The children's portfolios capture their development, learning, growth and reflections. 

Watching children interact with their portfolios is a powerful experience. They retell their learning experiences, make connections to their play, and use their documentation to support their learning.

It is also incredible to listen to the conversations that children have when interacting with their portfolios. They are very self aware of their growth and development especially when reflecting on their experiences in their first compared to second year.

"It used to be hard for me"
"I learned..."
"Look at my learning..."
"Remember when..."

Having the portfolio in physical forms allows for the children to access it independently and easily. Other children can look at their peers portfolios as well, which is especially comforting in the fall for new students. We often notice students sharing their portfolio with new students who arrive part way through the year too.

Children often use Pic Collage to write and document their learning and experiences.

How can we afford to print documentation and keep up these binders?
That is the most common question we get when sharing these beautiful binders at workshops! We do not always print pieces of documentation in colour. Our rule of thumb is that if the piece is better understood in colour, then we may print it that way. Many of our documentation pieces are printed in black and white at school.

In addition, we share how valuable and important the portfolios are at the beginning of the year with families and ask them to contribute $5 towards the cost of the binder and the plastic sleeves.

Student writing about the process of her construction on the light table.

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