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Reasons to Use Writing Portfolios

Completing a piece of writing is surely something to celebrate. It is one of the reasons why I love teaching writing so much; the end result is so exciting. Watching student's writing grow throughout the year is truly an amazing thing. You can test their reading levels and develop their math skills…but looking at beginning and end of the year writing samples gives me all the feels!

I really love looking at student's growth in writing throughout the year and keeping a writing portfolio is the perfect way to do that. It's so fun to see how students react to their beginning of the year writing at the end of the year…they tend to be a bit dramatic if you can imagine! But, they LOVE to see how much they've grown as writers! And rather than their writing getting lost in the shuffle of papers at home, families will get a chance to see the amazing writing that has been done all year when you send it home. It's also a really great resource to use when conferencing with parents or intervention teachers.

What is a writing portfolio?

A writing portfolio is a collection of student's writing throughout the year. It is different than their writing folders because students choose the published pieces of writing that they would like to keep in the portfolio.

The portfolio grows as their writing grows throughout the year, as they add completed pieces of work to the portfolio.

Why use writing portfolios?

  • There is really not much work involved for you! Yay…your favorite thing to hear, right? You are already having students complete pieces of writing, all you need to do is provide a place to store them! And it doesn't have to be anything fancy…just a milk crate and hanging folders works perfectly!
  • Keeping writing portfolios is an easy way to monitor student progress, especially with writing. We do running records and have math tests to assess students, but monitoring student progress in writing is not as easy. When you keep a portfolio, you can really look back and see the growth from one project to the next.
  • It is a great tool for individual student meetings or parent-teacher conferences. When you are meeting with parents, it is a great way to show student's strengths and areas of struggle. And parents also love seeing their child's growth!
  • At the end of the year, it is not only fun to see the growth from the beginning of the year, but a writing portfolio is also a really great thing to send home. Throughout the year a single writing project might get lost in the shuffle of papers being sent home; but at the end of the year, a folder filled with writing that is dated throughout the year is something that really makes an impact and shows how much a child has learned. It is truly a piece of pride for students to take home and fun for families to look through.
  • Keeping writing portfolios creates a sense of purpose for student writing. They have a deep sense of pride when they add a piece of writing to their portfolio, knowing that it is their best work.

How to select pieces of writing for the portfolios

When you are selecting writing to go in student portfolios, you can decide with students what projects are portfolio-worthy.

  • Choose one piece of writing each month
  • Choose one per writing genre
  • Decide if special occassion/holiday writing projects will be included
  • Allow students the ability to choose a favorite piece of writing, even if the class is not including it as a whole

How to store writing portfolios

To store your writing portfolios you can use the following materials:

  • a milk crate or other container that holds hanging folders
  • hanging folders
  • file folders
  • writing portfolio covers
  • table of contents
  • labels

I hope you found some ideas for using writing portfolios in your classroom!

You can find some of my favorite crates, folders, and other items to use for writing workshop HERE.

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Happy Teaching!

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