Creating a Kindergarten Portfolio

A portfolio is the most authentic way to assess the growth and development of students.

Additionally, adding photos and memories to the portfolio make it a priceless keepsake!

If you haven't used portfolios before, or you feel like you could use some help with organization and/or production, here are a few tips.

I have tried portfolios in many different formats from dime-folders to digital masterpieces. I have found the binder style to be the most productive, easy to manage, and easy to store. I use these binders that I buy on Amazon. I have had students bring their own binders, but I like the binders to be uniform.
I like the Clear-View binders so that I can add a Cover and Endplate with the student's picture to make finding each binder an easy task. And they look professional and purposeful.
 The most important thing to keep yourself organized and on top of portfolios is finding the storage area before you begin. Plan to keep the portfolios in reach of students. (Even though I am the only one that adds pages, I have students bring the books to me and return on their own).

Also. don't get behind!!! I add the pages for the month at the end of the month.
If you are printing your own photos on copy machines in either color or black and white, invest in quality paper for those pages. I have found that paper makes all the difference. If I use the heavier weight paper, I use less ink.
If you are printing and then mounting photos, Shutterfly and other on-line photo processing areas offer many great discounts. Then for mounting, you MUST have the Scotch ATG gun. Using this tape  gun will keep everything secure! No more wasted time remounting photos!

If you have access to a color printer, the photos can be easily printed as a full sheet. I print a few of my pages at school, but I print the majority at home on my HP printer. The most important time-saver tip in printing, is to print the pictures ready to put in portfolios. I even organize my photos alphabetically by first name so they will come out of the printer collated, ready to slip in the portfolios.

 Start the year right! Take a picture at orientation, or on your first day. (I use the same photo to crop for the helper chart, dictionary, desks, etc).
Then, take your photo and print as photograph, or design a page on iWork's, adobe, powerpoint, or etc. (Remember to organize the pages alphabetically before printing).
 Design (or, okay you can purchase mine) a monthly divider that has purpose. This divider will allow an authentic measure of handwriting growth monthly. I print the divider on a color that matches the mood of the month or season.

Continue the beginnings of your portfolio by adding one or two pages that represent beginning of the year memories. I love these two, a takeoff on Brown Bear and another on Pete the Cat.
 Next add some beginning of the year measures that will be also produced at the end of the year for full year growth comparison.
Add a beginning of the year work sample.

Continue your portfolios by adding about 4-5 pages each month (A variety of photo memories, creative writing, work samples, etc). Think in terms of month when doing portfolios. Ask yourself, "What four (or more) pages will best reflect the month's learning in our classroom."

Here are a few of the pages I have used in the past.

Besides using journals, I try to place a minimum of two writing samples in the portfolio. I have found that parents love that everything is in one place, easy to store and preserve.

I also add a minimum of two art or other work samples each month.

 I add about four video samples yearly. I either add the video directly burned on a DVD, or on the page documenting the activity I add the link to a secure video on Vimeo, Youtube, etc.
 Be sure to have an end of the year section just as you had a beginning of the year section. It will keep the portfolios organized and bring the book to a feeling of completion.

You will love documenting your student's kindergarten year and providing a treasure to families. I actually had a couple of students bring their kindergarten portfolios for me to sign to celebrate their College Graduation! Yes, portfolios are worth it!