Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Year in Review: Writing Portfolios

As I sit here on my first day of summer vacation, I am reflecting on my most recent school year. I just finished my third year of teaching first grade. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone! As I reflect, my most exciting addition to my classroom this year was the use of writing portfolios. It greatly impacted the way that my students viewed their writing this year. We had many discussions and celebrations of students' progress!! As I continue to use these portfolios in years to come, I'd like to continue to work on improving the way that I have my students self-evaluate their own writing.

Here's a look at our writing portfolios!

I decided to start these portfolios at the last minute in August. I ran to the Dollar Tree and picked up twenty 1 inch binders... next year, I am putting these on our school supply list!

I labeled the spines and we kept the portfolios on a shelf in the classroom. Many students wanted to keep them in their desks, but I knew that they would be destroyed in the chaos of a first grader's desk.

UPDATE & FREEBIE HERE: One problem that I had with labeling the spines was that the labels peeled off throughout the year. This year, I am going to get the binders with the clear pockets on the sides so that I can slide a label into the spine. Grab my updated cover for the 2015-2016 school year and my spine labels here.

Our writing portfolios include 37 writing samples, one for each week of the school year. When I created this product, I mapped out each week and included a variety of different types of prompts. Here's a peek at the way I mapped out the 2014-2015 school year. (My product includes the same document, but I removed the weekly dates since I know that everyone's school year is a little different).

We completed an entry in our writing portfolios every Friday morning and students really loved the routine. We began on the first Friday of the school year. I made it a very serious deal and we even put up our "office dividers" to have a more private work space. This helped students to stay focused and think seriously about their writing.

Right from the beginning, I introduced my students to this checklist on the back side of their portfolio writing paper. Students went back and checked for various pieces in their writing. In the future, I'd like to differentiate this checklist a little bit throughout the school year.

I kept the writing pages very simple so that there are no distractions from the students' writing and illustrating. Here's an example of Week #1.

One thing that I love about using these writing portfolios is that they are such an EASY, SIMPLE assessment tool for me! Having weekly samples of student writing is a blessing and parents LOVED to look through them at parent teacher conferences.

Here are examples from two different first grade students. One writer is more advanced and the other is an intervention student.

My intervention firstie:

My advanced firstie:

It was so fun watching each of these darlings grow in their writing this year... along with the rest of my class!!

If you are interested in using writing portfolios in your classroom, please check out my Writing Center: Yearlong Writing Portfolio. It could be used in most lower elementary classrooms, including kindergarten, first, second, and third grade!


  1. This is great, heading you your store right now to add this to my wish list!! I found your portfolios on pinterest!

  2. This is a wonderful idea. My students always bring binders so this will be perfect b

  3. Hello!
    I am also a first grade teacher. I have bought your Writing Portfolio package on TPT and now I'm wondering where you got your "office dividers". Right now I just use manilla folders but they're just not working so great! If you could, please let me know where I can purchase those! Thank you! :)

  4. Can you make an editable for the years

  5. Love this idea...curious, when you had them write each week was it mostly independent without teacher help?