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How to Build Literacy Portfolios That You and Your Learners Will ACTUALLY Use to Track Growth

Teachers are expected to track learners’ progress.

You were probably handed a stack of folders or pouches of literacy work samples from previous grades and teachers.

Just what do you do with all that ‘stuff’?

Maybe you are expected to track learners’ progress but have not been given any work samples or direction.

Either way--it can be overwhelming!

Whether you were handed a stack of literacy work samples from previous grades or not, it’s time to take charge and find your own direction without being overwhelmed.

✅What Are Student Literacy Assessment Portfolios

These stacks of literacy work samples that you were given or that you are going to collect have been called many different things.

You have probably received some type of folder with student work samples from previous grades. I have heard these collections called by several different but very similar names, such as…

  • Literacy Assessment Portfolios

  • Student Literacy Folders

  • Literacy Assessment Folders

  • Literacy Portfolios

  • Student Literacy Portfolios

  • Reading and writing folders

  • Student portfolios

  • OR…any other similar names.

It doesn’t matter what your school or district calls this collection. It’s all the same!

A Literacy Portfolio is a place to collect reading and writing artifacts (work samples) to review and track the growth of your readers and writers.

This kind of ‘data’ (student work samples) holds more information than any standardized test. Student data about reading and writing is not just standardized numbers.

Standardized test scores aren’t the complete picture of a reader and a writer. Standardized testing scores should not define a student’s growth and progress in literacy. Let’s face it…some kids are not going to receive the scores they want to receive on standardized tests. But this doesn’t mean they haven’t made tremendous amounts of progress within the school year.

These Literacy Portfolios are easy to assemble because they will include authentic work your readers and writers are doing every day in your classroom.

These Literacy Portfolios are easy to assemble because they will include quick and informal assessments you conduct every day in your classroom.


✅Why You and Your Learners Should Build Literacy Portfolios Together

Help students SEE their growth without THAT test score clouding their vision!

Student Literacy Assessment Portfolios will guide your learners (and you) in seeing how they are growing as readers and writers.

Many young learners benefit from seeing a visual picture of a new concept or skill. Literacy Assessment Portfolios will help create that visual picture of a student’s growth in reading and writing.

When learners help you keep and review their Literacy Assessment Portfolios, they will be able to compare their progress to their own previous progress. That’s better than any data chart on the wall or bulletin board where readers and writers are compared to their classmates.

All students learn differently and grow at different rates.

Literacy Portfolios are a way to track student progress throughout the school year. This is the place to determine strengths and weaknesses for each learner in reading and writing. This assessment tool will travel from grade to grade to document their progress.

✅What A Literacy Portfolio Looks Like

A Literacy Portfolio is a folder or binder filled with student work samples (artifacts) from previous grades. If you use a pocket folder, have one side for reading and the other side for writing.

The work samples are arranged in sequential order with the most recent on top.

Each reading and writing artifact is labeled with the grade level in which it was completed, the teacher's name and the date on which that sample was completed.

✅What Reading and Writing Artifacts Could Be Included

The reading and writing work samples that are included throughout the school year will help learners SEE how they are progressing as readers and writers. This work will guide them in creating student written goals for reading and writing.

Some possible artifacts to include are…

  • Stop and jots from several times throughout the school year

  • Written responses from several times throughout the school year

  • Rubric assessments of student work

  • Student created goals for reading and writing

  • Student created goal reflections for reading and writing

  • Reading reflections from several times throughout the school year (such as, beginning, middle, end)

  • Anecdotal notes from the teacher

  • Engagement inventories (several throughout the year)

  • Reading Interest Inventories (several throughout the year such as beginning, middle and end of year)

  • Formal and informal running records

  • Reading level tracking chart

✅The Value of Student Literacy Portfolios

When readers & writers have a collection of their work throughout the school year to review, the teacher can guide conversations to show the growth that has been made from the beginning of the school year to the present.

Or better yet, if each grade level is using Literacy Portfolios, a student's growth can be shown over their school career.

👉Every learner grows each school year.

👉Every learner grows at a different rate than their peers.

👉Every learner needs the confidence that Literacy Portfolios can bring to their reading and writing work.

Until next time...



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