I love the end of the school year. And although summer vacation has been on my mind quite a bit, I am actually more excited about some of the culminating projects my students complete in May. Next week, we will begin our end of year Writing Portfolios.
I plan for these portfolios all year. My students don’t know this, but every time I assign a story or an essay, I have the Writing Portfolio in the back of my mind. It actually forces me to consider a variety of writing projects because I know I want a variety of writing samples in the portfolios. (This lends itself very well to Common Core!)
Every writing assignment I grade throughout the year, I send home for parents and students to review, but I require that students return the graded papers to me. I file all of the graded papers in my file cabinet. When we begin work on the Writing Portfolios, I return all of the writing. The students prepare new, clean copies of their favorite writing samples without any teacher marks on them. The students provide a 3-ring binder and organize all of the writing in the binder. I encourage them to add color or decoration like a scrapbook, so it is a fun keepsake.
The finished portfolios are a great record of a student’s writing accomplishments from the school year. Parents love the Writing Portfolio because it is a time capsule of work completed, and it is organized before it goes home. I like the Writing Portfolio because it does not require hours of grading at the end of the year since I have already graded the writing samples at the time the students wrote the original version. I do grade for completion and organization.
Below is a list of suggested writing assignments you could incorporate into a Writing Portfolio. I try to offer some choice, so students can select their favorite pieces from the year while insuring variety at the same time. It is easy to adapt to any classroom based on your writing activities. Over the years, I have completed this assignment with 4th, 6th, and 9th graders. It always turns out well, and I am always pleasantly surprised at the growth in writing when I see writing samples from August alongside writing from April.
Letters to Self (2 letters in the portfolio)
- The Writing Portfolio project actually starts in August during the first week of school. Students write a letter to themselves about their expectations for the upcoming school year. We complete a friendly letter mini lesson, and the students write the letter in their best handwriting. I do not read these letters. They are sealed in an envelope and stored until the end of the year. Next week, students will complete another letter describing what they actually accomplished during the year and their best memories. At this point, I return the first letter and both letters go into the Writing Portfolio.
Journals or Free Writes
- My students respond to a journal prompt each day as a warm up activity. For the portfolio, students choose 10 of their favorite journals from the year, type or write them in final draft form, and add them to the portfolio.
- Any quick write activities you have in your class from the year can be incorporated.
- Compare/contrast main characters in a novel
- Essays that discuss how a main character changes throughout a novel
- Analyzing a big theme in a novel
- Research essay
- Book cover for a novel study
- Design a Facebook page for a book character
- Write a resume for a character
- Compose an epilogue for a book
- Original student poems
- Historical fiction short story (the story must be set in a time they studied in history during the school year)
- Tall tale
- Point of view journals (re-tell chapters in a book from the point of view of a character)
- Create a Glog (virtual poster)
- Newspaper with a feature store about the climax of a novel study
Odds and Ends
- A list of favorite books from the year
- An end of year survey about the class
- Letters from book authors (click for details)
Do you have strategies for showing student growth throughout the year? This is a great way to highlight changes in writing, but I would love a concrete way to share reading and math improvement that is easily visible to the student and parent. The Student Writing Portfolio plans and reproducibles are posted at my Teachers Pay Teacher Store. Please visit and download for free!