What are Portfolios?
In Western Australia, many teachers use portfolios as a means by which to collect samples of children's work.  A portfolio can be a scrapbook, folder or any other form that allows the teacher to display a child's work so that it may be viewed by parents, principals, other teachers or by the child itself. Portfolios are a method of reporting through using work samples, and are an extension of the traditional report form that is usually issued to students
Portfolios are very individual, it is really up to the individual teacher how their portfolios are put together but schools may plan for common learning areas to be worked on, and for some aspects of the portfolio to be used by all teachers.  This makes planning easier for teachers and also  helps parents to understand the portfolio formats more easily
What goes in a Portfolio?
With the kindergarten age group, it can be difficult to collect work samples as the children are at the pre writing stage.  Also, much of the work in kindergarten is hands on and concrete and this type of work can be difficult to put in a portfolio.  For example, how do you report what a child has learned from a floating/sinking session with water play, if they can't write their own findings and understandings?  Sometimes its necessary therefore, to plan some simple worksheet type activities to complement other hands on activities that are done in the classroom. Here's some ideas of what to put into a kindergarten portfolio:
Work samples - art work and other worksheet type activities that reflect learning in the classroom.  These should cover all learning areas if possible.

Photos - of things children have made or activities they are involved in with a written description to accompany it.  I have also started to put photos onto CD-rom to include in the portfolio.

Checklists - try to find simple ones that parents can understand or make up your own.

Oral recounts - when you do something special with the children, have them do a verbal recall of it and write their words for them. You can do this with any activity and it helps the child to describe what they experienced and learned.  Alternatively, you can collect oral samples on cassette tape and include it as part of the portfolio. Parents can supply their child with a cassette tape.

Child's Selected Work - allow children to choose paintings or pieces of their own work they wish to put into the portfolio and ask them to describe why they chose it.  Put their description in there also
I use a scrapbook to collect work.  Each child is asked to bring a scrapbook with them on the first day and we keep these at school and continually add to them.    I put in samples as I have described above and I try to order them according to the dates when the work was completed.   At the beginning of the book I put a note to parents explaining what the portfolio is and how we put them together.  With each sample of work, I put a description sheet which basically describes the activity and evaluates how well the child completed the task.

In each descriptor I write:

* The date of the activity
* A description of the activity and a brief outline of the topic we had been studying
* The purpose of the activity and the objectives we were working towards.
* A list of outcomes the children were expected to achieve or skills they had shown. 
  In this list I mark   down whether the child:  
                                     - achieved our objectives
                                     - is working towards developing them
                                     - is yet to master the skills we are developing      
Why use descriptors?
I have had a lot of positive parent feedback about the descriptors as parents say they find them useful for understanding the activity and why it was done, and they also like to see what their child has achieved and what skills they need to work on.

As reports are not required for the kindergarten age group, the descriptors are also an important and informal way of reporting on a child's achievement and evaluating their learning.
Here is an example of how our portfolios are laid out.  The note to parents is on the inside cover, the samples are glued onto a page, with a descriptor being attached to the sample either by gluing or stapling.

If you would like to see photos of the types of work I put in portfolios, please select the link below
If you would like to see descriptors I include with activity samples, please select the link below
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Miss G`s Aussie Kindergarten
Miss G's Aussie Kindergarten
This page was last updated on: June 5, 2011
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