Thank you, Stace! I think that getting everyone excited, especially the kids, is still going to be key to getting this going in the upper grades. Maybe you could offer "homework pass" tickets, or out of uniform tickets to encourage students to want to come. I know that doesn't go well in some places, but I think for kids of that age, it could be a really big draw. Be sure to keep it positive and tell them you really want this to be a nice evening, no negatives coming from you to mom (fear of what might happen makes a lot of kids shy away I think).
Be sure to announce early and often to help parents work with their schedules. Maybe share why this whole portfolio shift is a big deal and how great it will be to see their kids' work. I know with my kids, some of them "hide" the go-home notices, so if you have school messenger or online contacts, use that too. Your age group probably has clubs and activities... maybe have each club set up a table or have something as well. That will draw in kids who don't care about the academics, but want to show off their music, drama, ahtletics, science, etc...
I think the more you get the kids excited about showing off, the more they will want to beg there parents to come. I still think food draws them in at any age. And again, just let the parents know why this night is special. They aren't just coming to see a notebook page tacked to the wall. It is really a showcase. Make it sound like it is a major event, not to be missed. That sets a high expectation, but it will get them talking. I know with our families, they all want in on the action. If they feel like so-and-so's mom is going to be there or get something they aren't, they will make a beeline for the school!
Good luck! Let me know how it goes. I'd love to see portfolio based showcase. I think that is THE way to assess kids. :)
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