Sunday, September 30, 2012
Portfolio/ Documentation Books: The Burning Question
We have had numerous emails and blog comments regarding our Portfolio/Documentation Books. (Thank you for your interest and patience for this post!) Here is a little bit more information about them to help inform parents and other blog visitors.
Each child in our class has a Portfolio/Documentation Book with their name and photo on the top. These folders are filled with clear sleeves to easily update what is included inside.
After a trip to London England with YRDSB's Leadership Study Tour in 2011, our school team received great inspiration from their approach to early years documentation. At the two schools that we visited, we were impressed by their documentation notes, organization, and how well they made the learning in their classrooms visible.
This inspired us to start something similar that would fit into our Bond Lake P.S. context here in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
Below are some images (cropped for privacy reasons) of how the documentation templates look like.
On the top is space for the child's name and date, the context in which the learning took place, and the level of support that was given by adults. (Educators circle whether it occurred indoors, outdoors, if it was child/adult initiated, whether the child was alone, in a pair, small group, or large group.)
In the middle is a space for a photo of the child engaged in play-based learning, inquiry-based learning, or other curricular learning experiences.
On the bottom of the template is space for educator notes (observations or dialogue between the children), next steps, the links to the curriculum, and who made the observation.
Last year we also started to use this template for math interviews. Below is an example of an interview about ordinal numbers. The only difference, is that the image section has clip art of students in a line that matched our question about ordinal numbers.
Another component of our Portfolio/Documentation Books are our monthly writing samples. Each day our students are expected to share their thinking through graphic communication (drawing/creative expression paired with writing) and post it on "Our Daily Writing Hangs Here" wall. The next morning we sit in front of the writing wall to discuss and give feedback for our writing. The writing samples then get placed into a filing cabinet, and saved until the child is asked to choose their two best pieces for the month. After the two pieces are selected (using our learning goal and success criteria that is reviewed each day during our feedback time) there is a reflection template that is filled out by the educator and the child to describe their work and next steps for improvement. These two samples then get placed within the Portfolio/Documentation Books.
The purpose of these Portfolio/Documentation Books is to make visible our daily learning and discoveries. Learning in kindergarten that is play-based and inquiry-based requires many photographs, as we do not run a worksheet based program.
Our hope is that students re-visit their learning and share it with their parents during Family Fridays.
For our classroom, these templates were an excellent way to start documenting our students and making observations of their learning.
Our next steps will focus on more in depth pedagogical documentation of our inquiries and math problem solving experiences. These experiences are more difficult to squeeze into one photo and a single page template. For this reason, we will sometimes use the template above and sometimes create the story of learning using a word processing program.
I hope that this gives you a starting point, and that it better explains our process for you. There will soon be an interview available about this via the ETFO kindergarten page as well. Feel free to make a comment on this blog post about your impressions of these books, as well as other questions that you may have. I would be happy to clarify them for you!
Please note that these Portfolio/Documentation Books include moments of learning and observations. More pedagogical documentation in the form of inquiry binders and panels are also used around our classroom. Those are not per child, but rather for small groups of children or the whole class.