Why are writing portfolios important?

How do your students keep up with their writing? Do they cram it in the desk? Is it smushed down in their chair pocket? How do they know to cherish it? If you’ve pulled out some wadded up writing more than once, I’ve got a solution for you. You can create writing folders and use them as portfolios to house all of their writing.

Creating Writing Portfolios/Folders

First, you will need two folders. Why two? You need the additional space to glue things. Tape the two folders together. On the front of each, I put the student’s name. Some years I use labels and others I just write it with a permanent marker.

Then, I choose all the things that I want to go in the folders. I glue them to the right side of the first folder, the left side of the second folder, on the back of the first folder and on the front of the second folder if I need to. I keep the first pocket and last pocket free of anything being glued. We will use the first pocket for writing that is in progress. The last pocket will hold all of the writing that is finished.

Using the Writing Folder

Your students will have to learn how to use all parts of the writing folder. I highly suggest having minilessons every day about the writing folder until you’ve covered all aspects. We do a lot of role-playing with the folder as well. I teach them where to put writing that isn’t finished. How to look at the alphabet chart if they can’t remember how to form a letter. I show them where the color words and numbers are and everything that’s included. Once your students are very familiar with the folder, they will start to use it more.

Writing Conferences

As students are working on their writing, I usually walk around the room a few times and just check in to see what they’re writing about, make sure they’re working and so on. However, sometimes it’s quite easy to miss when they finish a piece and move on to a new page. I like to keep their folders all together. I have a large sized bin that came from Big Lots and it where all the writing folders go. Either before school starts, during PE or a time when they’re not in the room, I thumb through all of the folders quickly and only check the finished side. I try not to look at the writing that’s in progress because a lot of times things that I think they need to do, they will do it during our next writing time.

I jot down who I need to pull for a writing conference and what we need to discuss. If I notice that punctuation is a problem for three of them, I can call them all together and we do a short mini-lesson on punctuation. This is the same for spacing, sight words, capitalization, adding more detail, illustration, and anything else that I notice. I usually only have time to do two or three of these, but I do keep a running list in case I don’t get to something that day.

Why Students Need a Writing Portfolio

Now, I’ve talked about how we use our writing folders, but I’d like to tell you why I think they are important and why they should be used as a writing portfolio. Primary students that learn to read and write with you grow so much. The growth is magical in fact. You often forget where they started and where they’re going. Having a writing portfolio is important to showcase the growth that has happened. You may not notice that it is happening while you’re watching them write daiy, but once you take a look back at their first piece of writing and compare it to where they are three months later, you’ll be surprised.

This can even be growth in the details in their illustrations. We focus a lot on adding more detail to our writing. This includes adding detail to our pictures because we are also illustrators. When I have conferences with parents, I always start with their first piece of work. I try not to make not of how old it is. I want them to examine it. We talk about what they notice. Then, I pull out something a bit in the middle of the stack. There usually is growth. If not, this is a great talking point. Then, I pull out their most current piece. This helps parents to see where there child actually started. If you show the most current and then go backwards, they won’t really notice the difference. They will assume that their child was a phenomenal writer and illustrator this entire time.

Celebrate Their Writing

Having these writing folders and using them as a portfolio allows you to celebrate that student in many ways. It also gives the parent and even your admin a chance to see how the child has grown over a short period of time. If you’d like to create these for your students, you can grab them here.

Test out the themed cards with your kids to see if it helps them. Click here to try them out for yourself.

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