Are you considering implementing a portfolio system in your classroom? Creating a record of a student's accumulated work is one of the best ways to track his or her progress over the year. Three basic types of portfolios are:

  • The Collection Portfolio: This portfolio contains a wide variety of student work completed over a period of time. It could include a piece of writing taken through the entire writing process, writing samples showing different parts of the process, a daily journal, book reports, taped recordings of oral readings, photos of projects or activities, math problem-solving Think-Alouds, mathematics checklists, and more.

  • Student Showcase Portfolio: This portfolio includes carefully selected artifacts (chosen by teacher or student) that represent the student's best work or work that shows growth over time and is intended to be publicly displayed (at open houses, parent-teacher conferences, report-card time, or once a month). The Student Showcase could include student reflections on the selections and student self-assessments.

  • Assessment Portfolio: This portfolio contains teacher-selected items, including student work documenting tests and test scores, anecdotal notes of observations and conferences, and records of other assessment tools, such as interest inventories, student evaluations, and goal-setting forms. This type of portfolio is typically used by the teacher to inform students and parents rather than for public display.

You may choose to use one, two, or all three of these types of portfolios depending on your needs and the requirements of your school. Items from the Collection Portfolio can be included in the Student Showcase Portfolio and the Assessment Portfolio. Consider your record-keeping needs and the purpose of each portfolio carefully before you begin collecting documents.

Creating portfolios is easy. The portfolio container can be as simple as folded construction paper or a manila folder. You can also use pocket folders or three-ring notebooks. Portfolios may be created for any subject and integrated or kept separately. They should be easily accessible to students, teachers, and parents for quick filing and reference.


This article was excerpted from The New Teacher's Complete Sourcebook: K–4 by Bonnie P. Murray.