Tag Archive | written narratives

10 Portfolio Organization Ideas

images-1As you begin to collect work samples of your students work the question that may come to mind is, How should I best display the amazing work that my student has completed this year?” It really is a matter of personal choice, but I am listing some organizational ideas to help you.

  • Bring workboooks of the school year that has been completed. This is the most common form of displaying a student’s work if you are using traditional textbooks.
  • Binders are a great way to show looseleaf papers and other work that is not from a workbook. Tabs are helpful to use as headings for individual subjects if you combine them in a notebook. You could have one large binder for all work or several smaller binders for individual subjects.
  • Accordion pleated folders are helpful since you can place wok samples in each of the slots and label each separate subject. For example: Math, Reading, Handwriting, Social Studies, Health, etc.
  • A large box such as one that holds reams of paper works well if you have binders to bring or large items you’d like to show me. (artwork, models, etc.) I am only suggesting, and this is by no means a requirement! 🙂
  • Pictures on your phone are an easy and portable way to show activities and projects if you don’t want to bring them and run the risk of something happening. You may have had your student do a class that was on the computer and have no way of printing off the answers. You can take a picture of the screen with the scores for the year if you like.
  •  Voice recordings on your phone are helpful if you would like to ask questions about progress or want to show progress that is being made in reading.
  • Scrapbooks/yearbooks are a wonderful keepsake and a snapshot of things you have done over the year. They serve a dual role because they help me as an assessor to see what kind of activities you have done, but they are yours to show for years to come.
  • Descriptions of co-op classes your student was a part of help document classes that you did not teach at home. If a syllabus is available for a class you can include that too.
  • Program guides from ballets, music performances, or certificates of completion for a gym class or a babysitting course, etc. help to document what your student has done.
  • Badges from scout programs such as American Heritage Girls or Trail Life are great for showing topics of study that are more difficult to document such as fire safety or first aid.

I realize this is only scratching the surface on how you can organize your student’s portfolio, but I hope this gives you some ideas. As you can see from what I have listed above, there are a variety of ways to document and display work. Use whatever means works best for you and feel free to come up with other ideas.


Showcasing your Student’s Work: Reading

Children-readingAs I am preparing for families to come this spring and summer for portfolio reviews, I am thinking it beneficial to discuss different ways to document what your student has done this year. I am going to break this down into subject areas over the next several weeks so I can provide you with various options for each area. This week I am going to address Language Arts, particularly reading.


Record oral work. When little ones are just beginning to sound out letters and read, it may be difficult to “show” work that has been done since a large portion of the work is oral. For beginner readers you can record a book that you are reading aloud and the interaction that is taking place. For instance, if you are reading In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming and you are having your reader listen and follow along, pointing to certain letters or words, it documents what is being accomplished. You can have a grandparent listen to it as well. Those are button-busting moments for all involved!

You can also have any of your readers create audio books over a period of time to show progress. Modeling this would be helpful to your child, either by listening to a book on CD or by recording one yourself. These can be short books or a chapter book; it just depends upon what you would like to do. Since it is January, you still have several months to do this before a portfolio review. Play it back for your husband at the dinner table and let your student shine!

Keep a book list. Either keep a receipt from the library; record the titles in your lesson planner; or take pictures of the books, or bring three books with you that were read at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the year. This is an amazing way to see the progress your student has made throughout the year.  There are times when I just don’t think I have done anything and if I have someway of looking back to where I began I am encouraged that I actually did more than I thought. Sometimes you see tremendous growth with your child, and much of the time it is slow and steady.  Both of these are great, so don’t be discouraged. 🙂

Keep workbook pages. If you are using a traditional workbook, you can pack it up to show at your assessment, or you can tear out 30 pages or so. These pages would be from the beginning, middle, and end of the year.

Check comprehension of reading passages. This can be done by stopping in certain portions of  the story and ask questions such as, “What do you think will happen next?” “How do you think the story will end?”, “Why did the character act that way?” (motive) If your child is not writing yet, then record their answers and be sure to title the page. For example: Caps For Sale  Why did the seller throw his hat down? Record your child’s response.

Having your student draw a picture of the story as a summary or as a prediction for what will happen is a way to record comprehension too. Many reading programs have comprehension questions at the end of the passage so you can include some of those for the portfolio.

Create a picture collage of activities. Perhaps your children make crafts or do some of their schoolwork on the computer. You can take pictures of your children reading directions, and/or show a picture of the computer screen with the results that are given at the end of the lesson or game.

I hope this has given you ideas of documenting your student’s work. As you can see, there are many ways to do this and you are not limited to just one way to do things. You have unique pupils and not each child learns the same way.

Please leave a comment if you have another idea. I’d love to hear it!



My friend Ann sent me a picture of what they do to celebrate reading at their house. They create a Reading Wall. Every time someone reads a book they write the title and their name on a post-it and stick it to the Reading Wall. I love it! Thank you for sharing, Ann. 🙂photo 1 photo 2








Portfolio Reviews(Written narratives)

portfolioIf you have never done a portfolio review the process is simple. You gather your student’s work, (see picture)  and schedule a time for me to review your student’s work. Next, you come  see me, and show off what your student has done.  We discuss the academic progress for the year and any questions you may have with regards to the academic year.  As I review the portfolio of work samples that you have brought I offer suggestions for curriculum and help where you may need it.

When you leave I give you the portfolio review paperwork to turn in with the additional paperwork you submit for the upcoming year.  Voila! You are finished!  You can now go and celebrate the completion of your school year with your family. (Cheers and shouts of jubilation resounding throughout the house)

Afterwards, I will email you a  portfolio checklist of the areas your scholar had studied and any notes, suggestions, or recommendations I have from our meeting. I have noticed with us homeschoolers we cover a wide range of topics as we are discussing the year. It can be  difficult for you to write everything while we are discussing your student’s progress, thus my checklist.

If you do not live close to me then I can arrange to meet you somewhere, or we can skype. I have even had people scan and send documents to me and spoken via phone about them. It’s almost like being here! 🙂 I love technology, don’t you?

I am scheduling appointments now. My fee is $40.00 for one child and a discounted price ($35.00) for additional students in your family. No charge for pets! 🙂 If you would like to come and see me to do a portfolio review, please either comment below or email me. Either way, I will respond as quickly as I can once I receive your message.

Feel free to ask questions about portfolio reviews in the comment box or contact me via email. I will be glad to help.

~ Lisa

** Some people are concerned about having work samples to show if they are not using traditional curriculum or their child isn’t reading. That’s not a problem. Bring samples of projects or pictures of what your child has done. You can also write a summary of the year and we will discuss it.  If you have read aloud to your student then write a list of books that you read throughout the year. I love seeing unschoolers’ work. I have seen some of the most creative ideas and projects!

Please note this blog article does not constitute any legal advice, but rather helps you determine what type of evaluation process you would like to pursue.  I am not a lawyer, nor do I play the role of one on TV. 🙂

Filling out the Home Education Notification Form

photoIt’s getting close to the beginning of school!

In order to home school here in the great state of Ohio, you must submit the necessary paperwork in order for your child(ren) to be excused from compulsory attendance. The notification form can seem a bit intimidating, but once you have gone through this step-by-step explanation you will realize it wasn’t too difficult afterall. Please have the Ohio Home Education Notification form in front of you for reference. This is not legal advice- please contact HSLDA or a state/local home school organization if you have questions.

A. This is just the introduction- no need to put anything here.

(1) Fill in the upcoming school year- for example if you are going to teach your child in the fall you would write the current school year.

(2) Write your name and address. There is no need for you to fill in your telephone number.

(3) If you are not going to be teaching your child the majority of their school work, then you will need to list the person’s name here. For instance, if you work and your mother is going to do the teaching, you would list her name and address. The phone number is not needed.

(4) Full name and birthdate of your student(s) is listed here. Grade level is not necessary.

(5) Put a check mark on the line that shows you will be providing an education in each of these subject areas.

(6) Place a check mark on the line for the outline of intended curriculum.You have the freedom to change your mind once school begins. The school just wants to see that you have planned what you will be doing. You want to have a list of the concepts/ topics you intend to cover for the year. Please see an example of what I have submitted in years past  Each person’s list may look different based upon what you have planned. Each academic year will most likely look different. I suggest you have broad categories as this will give you the freedom to choose several types of curriculum should one not work out as you had planned. Here are examples for you to see: Elementary Intended Course of Study  High School Intended Couse of Study

(7) Check this line. Be sure to include a list of books, DVD’s and other curriculum that you intend to use for the year.  Titles of library books that I intend to use are listed here because I know that we will be using those for school.  Again, if the curriculum is not working out, you may choose something different during your school year. Here are two examples of what I have sent in previous years. Elementary Intended Curriculum   High School Intended Curriculum . I also have another blog post that gives you more specific details if you need clarification for lines 6 and 7.  outline of topics and curriculum

(8) Check this line with confidence! We all educate our children beyond the 900 hours the state requires. Education is not only limited to sit-down-at-the-table time and bookwork. This includes co-ops, playing outside (physical education), helping watch brothers and sisters (health- family life, safety), going to a library program (language arts, science, social studies, etc.), going grocery shopping (math, health), participating in a local park program (science), symphonies and plays (fine arts),etc. I documented these activities in my lesson plans by writing what we did.

(9) Check this line because you are qualified to educate your child(ren), but read this section to make sure you do meet the  qualifications to be able to home educate your child(ren).

(10) Lastly, sign your form that signifies that you have completed it and will abide by the requirements that were stated on the notification form.

Many people include a cover letter stating their intention to home school and a list of all the paperwork that is being included. If this is your first year to home school you do not need any type of evaluation (portfolio assessment or standardized test). This will be added after your first year is completed.

Congratulations! You have completed the form you and are that much closer to officially home schooling!