Portfolio Reviews (They’re easier than you think!)

Don’t feel intimidated by what is involved with a portfolio review (also known as a written narrative). It really is quite simple- you present samples to me of your student’s work to show progress for the year. It is an overview of the academic year, a cross-section of what has been achieved by your student. This is an opportunity for you to reflect on the school year and also to brag to someone else about your academic year. 🙂 Here are some questions you may have when preparing for a written portfolio review:

What type of samples do I include?
Be sure to include samples of each subject that shows progress has been made. Please date the pages if bringing workbooks since this is a great help to see that progress has been made.
Here is an example of what I would like to see using math as the subject in review. One area that shows progress has been made would be multiplication. For instance, your scholar began with multiplication facts at the beginning of the year so you bring a few pages of problems that have 0x1,1×1,etc. By mid-year your awesome student has progressed to 6×10, 9×11, etc. so you bring samples of those problems, and by the end of the year she has made strides that she is now multiplying 16×12, 234×6, etc. and you bring several examples of these types of problems. This shows me, the assessor, that your child has made progress to the best of her ability. You may do this in several areas of mathematics. The idea is that you represent what has been studied throughout the year.
Your student may have used a computer program this year such as Switched on Schoolhouse so what I would like to see from this would be a summary of the work that was completed. Parents have included the results of tests given at the end of each lesson to show progress. If you need help with documenting this please let me know and I will be happy to assist.
If you did not use workbooks then list areas of study that were completed. For instance you could write a short paragraph that states,”We mastered multiplication tables this year. Amazing Son learned facts from 0-12, then mid-year we progressed to single-digit numbers multiplied by double-digit numbers and the year was concluded with triple-digit multiplication.” You would include samples of work for me to review.

What do I do if my student is not yet reading?
Make a list of books that you have read aloud to your child. It doesn’t need to be 50 titles long! An overview of books that were read would be adequate. I have documented books read over the course of the year by keeping the receipts the library gives us. You can write a list of letters and sounds they know or words that have been mastered.

We don’t have any samples to show in some academic areas. What is your recommendation?
You may write a narrative of what you discussed or units you studied over the course of the year. You can also bring pictures or a DVD if you like. An example of a unit study would be in the area of social studies. Much of what is studied via a unit is through “doing and discussing”. Perhaps you studied Scotland and prepared a display, but you didn’t do any workbook pages. No problem! Write about what your scholar DID on the project. Perhaps your student made a tri-fold board about the country, bring a picture of it or the project itself if you like.  The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to show how progress has been made.

I hope this is giving you an idea of what I am wanting to see in a portfolio review. Please feel free to ask me any questions. I won’t bite, I might nibble a little, but biting is SO improper! 🙂 Seriously, I’d love to guide you through the process and help you feel comfortable in making selections for me to review. As I tell my children, “You won’t know unless you ask [questions].”