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Using student portfolios in a kindergarten classroom.001
Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom
21 Jul, 2016. 3 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Back to School, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Writing, Writing. Posted By: Kristen Smith

Using student portfolios in a kindergarten classroom

Last year I changed the way that I did student portfolios and it was a HUGE success. I posted a few pictures on my instagram feed and got quite a few questions on them throughout the year. I’d love to walk you through what I did and how I managed my student portfolios last year.

In order to create my student portfolios, the school provided me with 1 inch binders for all of my students. On “Meet the Teacher” day, I had all of my students write their name on a white board and took a picture of them with it. I printed these pictures out and used them as the covers for their binders.

Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom

Then, on the third day of school, during our writing workshop, I introduced the portfolios to my students. We talked about how each week, they would choose their favorite writing sample from the week to hole punch and put in their binders. In my classroom we have a space called, “Our Best Writing.” On this wall, each student has a clip with a picture of them writing. Whenever they complete a piece of writing that they want to display, they hang it up on their clip. The page that was on their clip gets hole punched and put in their binder. (This made it easy to manage what was going in their portfolios!)

Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom

At the beginning of the year, I use Post It Notes to “scribe” what my students had written that day. I would do this both during our writing workshop as well as in the afternoon during exploration centers. I would meet with students 1-1 to talk to them about their writing. This provided opportunities to give feedback to my students and teach brief mini-lessons on their individual writing goals.

Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom

(Writing sample from August)

I also take many pictures of my students throughout the year. My students get to help pick out some of their favorite pictures to include in their portfolios. I also include pictures of them working hard and what their thought process was during an activity. They love looking at the pictures!

Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom

As the year progresses, I don’t need to scribe as much for my students but still meet with them 1-1 to conference with them.

Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom

We also include crafts, projects, and activities in the portfolios.

Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom

I truly loved using the portfolios and my students LOVED looking through them during the year. They would recall fun activities or events and relish in how far their writing had come! Taking them out and reading them was a favorite activity during read to self.

Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom Using Student Portfolios In A Kindergarten Classroom

Managing Student Portfolios

As last year was the first year that I started using portfolios like this, I learned a few lessons along the way. As I try to included at least 5-8 pictures from each quarter, at the end of the quarter I scrambled a bit printing the pictures and getting them inserted into the portfolios. This year, I am going to make sure I print pictures weekly. Each week as I upload the pictures to Shutterfly, I will choose a few to print out directly from the website. On my class list, I’m going to cross off the names of the students whose pictures I printed that week. This will ensure I have a few pictures of each child each month. I’m also going to try using an app called SeeSaw. This is a cool online portfolio app that allows students to take their own pictures and add them to their very own mini online portfolio. (This app also allows parents to get their student’s images emailed to them!) At the end of the month, during our writing conferences, I will ask each student which 1-2 pictures they would like me to print from this app. (and why!)

In reflection, I love the way our “best writing” clip transitioned to the children’s portfolios. However, this year I am going to put a three hole punch machine in my classroom so students can get their work off their clip, hole punch the papers independently, and add them to their binders. This will take a bit of training in the beginning, but it will alleviate me having the responsibility of collecting their papers, bringing them upstairs, hole punching them, sorting them, and filing them. Plus, it will create an even bigger sense of ownership.

I truly loved using these portfolios and they were fantastic to show parents during our conferences. The kids also loved taking them home at the end of the year! If you try them, let me know!

If you would like to read more about student portfolios, please check out the blog Transforming Our Learning. I learned so much from JoAnne! In fact, most of these ideas I incorporated into my classroom because of her awesome ideas!

Thank you JoAnne for the constant inspiration! :)

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3 Comments
  1. Thank you for your wonderful posts! You are an amazing teacher! I read your posts ( and even refer to them throughout the year) as inspiration for my center time activities. I teach pre-k and last year I created a portfolio for each student. I take pictures of students in action, as we do not do a lot of paper pencil tasks. I also found myself scrambling at the end of each quarter to find pictures of each student to put in the portfolio. I periodically had my littles draw a picture to add to the portfolio. This year I want to have them draw a self portrait each month. It is my hope that I will see growth in their portraits over the year. Keep us updated on your portfolios!

  2. I love your ideas posted. I am sending to my principal to request the 1 inch binders for each student be added to the supply list. I was planning on purchasing a 3 hole punch and recently signed up for Seesaw. I have been using Groovebooks, where I take pictures of my students and can add captions and then upload to this app. On the 15th of each month it will take 100 pictures that I have uploaded and print them out in a booklet and mail to me for under $3.00. Thanks for such helpful details.

  3. Hi! I love your portfolio ideas. Do you have a PDF of the writing paper you use?

3 Comments

  • Thank you for your wonderful posts! You are an amazing teacher! I read your posts ( and even refer to them throughout the year) as inspiration for my center time activities. I teach pre-k and last year I created a portfolio for each student. I take pictures of students in action, as we do not do a lot of paper pencil tasks. I also found myself scrambling at the end of each quarter to find pictures of each student to put in the portfolio. I periodically had my littles draw a picture to add to the portfolio. This year I want to have them draw a self portrait each month. It is my hope that I will see growth in their portraits over the year. Keep us updated on your portfolios!

  • I love your ideas posted. I am sending to my principal to request the 1 inch binders for each student be added to the supply list. I was planning on purchasing a 3 hole punch and recently signed up for Seesaw. I have been using Groovebooks, where I take pictures of my students and can add captions and then upload to this app. On the 15th of each month it will take 100 pictures that I have uploaded and print them out in a booklet and mail to me for under $3.00. Thanks for such helpful details.

  • Hi! I love your portfolio ideas. Do you have a PDF of the writing paper you use?

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