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November 10, 2017

Easy Steps to Take Your Reading and Writing Porfolios Digital

By Mary Blow
Grades 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Reading and writing portfolios have been a component of my instruction for years. However, this year, I am cleaning the five bins of student portfolios off my back counter and going digital. Included are digital portfolio templates created using Google Slides that you can download to use to use in your classroom.

    Why Portfolios?

    Reading and writing portfolios are important because they help students stop to reflect on the skills they have learned. Sometimes, weeks pass by the time we complete reading, discussion, and writing activities. It's no wonder our young writers struggle to remember what they learned. As a result, they are less likely to transfer these skills to the next assignment, much less to other content areas or high-stake testing situations.

    Students need to stop and put all the pieces together. This helps them see that their efforts are paying off, while motivating them to keep up the hard work. More importantly, they need to establish individual goals. This puts the student in charge of their own learning. Autonomy for my middle school students is important to maintaining motivation, especially when tackling challenging tasks.

    Introducing Portfolios

    Introduce portfolios by teaching the term portfolio. I am all over any opportunity to squeeze in a little Greek and Latin root vocabulary, so I introduce portfolios by explaining that the term contains two Latin roots: port- (carry) and folio- (page or leaf). Project the Digital Portfolio Anchor Chart in your classroom when introducing the concept, and then post it in your room for future reference.

    Next, I explain the writing portfolio templates I co-designed with Renee Krusper (my awesome Lowville Academy colleague). Each template contains the following slides, which you can customize to meet your classroom needs:

    • Title Page
    • My Reading Log
    • My Writing Log
    • Wow! Moments
    • End-of-Year Reflection
    • Rubric

    My Reading Log

    On this slide, students record the books they read throughout the year. These can be books read in class, independently, or with family members. My tween readers record how the book was read. For example, did they read it independently, with a family member, or as an audio book?

    Some students like to read the same book over and over. Some get stuck in a series and hang out there all year. We all love the Diary of a Wimpy Kids series by Jeff Kinney, but I am hoping that my sixth graders will expand their horizons. The information on the reading log provides evidence that they are reading enough literature independently and whether or not they are challenging themselves by exploring other genres and authors. Finally, they explain what they liked or didn’t like about the book.

    When I first introduce the reading log, I teach them how to duplicate the slide BEFORE we enter any information. This way my avid readers will know how to do this should they need three or more slides. I do the same thing with the writing log.

    We complete the first entry as a whole class, as exemplified in the sample entry in the template. Thereafter, my sixth graders read at different paces, so I ask them to record each book as it is completed. Otherwise, some students forget the titles or authors' names and the records are inaccurate.  

    Whenever we meet to fill in the writing log, I remind students to update this section of the portfolio:

     

    My Writing Log

    I have had students who receive graded assignments and look it over thoroughly, sometimes questioning each comment. Then I have had others who quickly stuff the assignment in a binder and never look back. I stand there gaping, wondering why I lost precious time providing these detailed comments. You’ve probably been there. Writing logs put an end to these frustrating experiences.

    The goal is to encourage students to reflect on their writing, a challenging concept that few students understand the value of. This is why portfolio day is hosted after each major writing assignment.

    Students review my positive and constructive comments, and then we engage in whole-class discussions, brainstorming the skills required to be successful using a graphic organizer. For example, after writing a short-answer response, I project the "Writing Log Graphic Organizer" on my SMART Board. If you don’t have a SMART Board, no worries, use the printable "Writing Log Graphic Organizer" (PDF).

     

     

    The brainstorming session identifies the targeted skills with asterisks. Students, depending on their writing abilities, may mention additional skills that may be lower or higher than the targeted outcomes. That’s okay — it’s seamless differentiation. It is good to spiral and review skills and concepts, and it is even better to challenge my tween writers. I record everything, validating each student’s contribution. Despite the diverse levels of mastery, each student is able to identify an area of strength and establish individual writing goals.     

     

    Wow! Moments

    Wow! Moments are those moments (academic or extracurricular) when a student shines or experiences a lasting memory. Students journal this moment, using complete sentences and correct English grammar. They are encouraged to embellish the journal entry with pictures or videos, but it is not a required component. This activity celebrates successes beyond the classroom. After all, we want reading and writing skills to transfer to all aspects of their lives, including personal writing that sometimes gets overlooked in middle school.

     

    End-of-Year Reflections

    At the end of the year, we reflect on the information recorded in the portfolio and evaluate our growth as a reader and writer. This section requires complete sentences and correct English grammar. Students can establish summer reading and writing goals or set goals for the next school year.

     

    Rubric

    The last slide contains the grading rubric, which I review when the portfolios are introduced. Before submitting them at the end of the year for a final grade, we revisit the rubric to self-evaluate the portfolios and make revisions before submitting them. Depending on student comfort levels, they can share their portfolios with the class.

     

    Portfolio Templates

    Feel free to download and modify the reading and writing portfolio templates to meet your classroom needs.

    Enjoy the FREE portfolio templates:

    Reading and writing portfolios have been a component of my instruction for years. However, this year, I am cleaning the five bins of student portfolios off my back counter and going digital. Included are digital portfolio templates created using Google Slides that you can download to use to use in your classroom.

    Why Portfolios?

    Reading and writing portfolios are important because they help students stop to reflect on the skills they have learned. Sometimes, weeks pass by the time we complete reading, discussion, and writing activities. It's no wonder our young writers struggle to remember what they learned. As a result, they are less likely to transfer these skills to the next assignment, much less to other content areas or high-stake testing situations.

    Students need to stop and put all the pieces together. This helps them see that their efforts are paying off, while motivating them to keep up the hard work. More importantly, they need to establish individual goals. This puts the student in charge of their own learning. Autonomy for my middle school students is important to maintaining motivation, especially when tackling challenging tasks.

    Introducing Portfolios

    Introduce portfolios by teaching the term portfolio. I am all over any opportunity to squeeze in a little Greek and Latin root vocabulary, so I introduce portfolios by explaining that the term contains two Latin roots: port- (carry) and folio- (page or leaf). Project the Digital Portfolio Anchor Chart in your classroom when introducing the concept, and then post it in your room for future reference.

    Next, I explain the writing portfolio templates I co-designed with Renee Krusper (my awesome Lowville Academy colleague). Each template contains the following slides, which you can customize to meet your classroom needs:

    • Title Page
    • My Reading Log
    • My Writing Log
    • Wow! Moments
    • End-of-Year Reflection
    • Rubric

    My Reading Log

    On this slide, students record the books they read throughout the year. These can be books read in class, independently, or with family members. My tween readers record how the book was read. For example, did they read it independently, with a family member, or as an audio book?

    Some students like to read the same book over and over. Some get stuck in a series and hang out there all year. We all love the Diary of a Wimpy Kids series by Jeff Kinney, but I am hoping that my sixth graders will expand their horizons. The information on the reading log provides evidence that they are reading enough literature independently and whether or not they are challenging themselves by exploring other genres and authors. Finally, they explain what they liked or didn’t like about the book.

    When I first introduce the reading log, I teach them how to duplicate the slide BEFORE we enter any information. This way my avid readers will know how to do this should they need three or more slides. I do the same thing with the writing log.

    We complete the first entry as a whole class, as exemplified in the sample entry in the template. Thereafter, my sixth graders read at different paces, so I ask them to record each book as it is completed. Otherwise, some students forget the titles or authors' names and the records are inaccurate.  

    Whenever we meet to fill in the writing log, I remind students to update this section of the portfolio:

     

    My Writing Log

    I have had students who receive graded assignments and look it over thoroughly, sometimes questioning each comment. Then I have had others who quickly stuff the assignment in a binder and never look back. I stand there gaping, wondering why I lost precious time providing these detailed comments. You’ve probably been there. Writing logs put an end to these frustrating experiences.

    The goal is to encourage students to reflect on their writing, a challenging concept that few students understand the value of. This is why portfolio day is hosted after each major writing assignment.

    Students review my positive and constructive comments, and then we engage in whole-class discussions, brainstorming the skills required to be successful using a graphic organizer. For example, after writing a short-answer response, I project the "Writing Log Graphic Organizer" on my SMART Board. If you don’t have a SMART Board, no worries, use the printable "Writing Log Graphic Organizer" (PDF).

     

     

    The brainstorming session identifies the targeted skills with asterisks. Students, depending on their writing abilities, may mention additional skills that may be lower or higher than the targeted outcomes. That’s okay — it’s seamless differentiation. It is good to spiral and review skills and concepts, and it is even better to challenge my tween writers. I record everything, validating each student’s contribution. Despite the diverse levels of mastery, each student is able to identify an area of strength and establish individual writing goals.     

     

    Wow! Moments

    Wow! Moments are those moments (academic or extracurricular) when a student shines or experiences a lasting memory. Students journal this moment, using complete sentences and correct English grammar. They are encouraged to embellish the journal entry with pictures or videos, but it is not a required component. This activity celebrates successes beyond the classroom. After all, we want reading and writing skills to transfer to all aspects of their lives, including personal writing that sometimes gets overlooked in middle school.

     

    End-of-Year Reflections

    At the end of the year, we reflect on the information recorded in the portfolio and evaluate our growth as a reader and writer. This section requires complete sentences and correct English grammar. Students can establish summer reading and writing goals or set goals for the next school year.

     

    Rubric

    The last slide contains the grading rubric, which I review when the portfolios are introduced. Before submitting them at the end of the year for a final grade, we revisit the rubric to self-evaluate the portfolios and make revisions before submitting them. Depending on student comfort levels, they can share their portfolios with the class.

     

    Portfolio Templates

    Feel free to download and modify the reading and writing portfolio templates to meet your classroom needs.

    Enjoy the FREE portfolio templates:

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