Jul 5, 2014

Author Celebrations and STRESS-FREE Portfolios

I've blogged before about AUTHOR CELEBRATIONS.  You can read about them here if you would like more information.  :)  Here's the short version so we can get to the STRESS-FREE PORTFOLIOS.

We spend about a month on each of our ELA/SS integrated units/topics.  During our units, we compile information through picture books, short stories, articles, research, etc. as we work toward a culminating project.  This project is a demonstration of all our work and learning throughout the entire unit!  At the end, we want to celebrate this project with an authentic audience and special guests!  We use sticky notes and "Walls of Fame" to celebrate and interact with the audience!  It truly is a wonderful experience for the kids and their parents. :)

Here's the beauty of this celebration.  I. JUST. WATCH!  That's right...our guests and students do all the work, and my students do all the filing!  It's a beautiful system in which my students take the lead!  

What makes this so simple is our FILING and PORTFOLIO procedures!

I teach 2 blocks of students.  So I need 2 class sets of files.  Each class gets a different color folder.  I use hanging files with numbered folders, so that I don't have to make new folders each year.  

For example, hanging file #19 has a red 19 folder and a manila 19 folder.  Block one is red, block 2 is manila.  I have a set of drafting file bins and a set of portfolio file bins.  During the unit, my students save their outlines, research, rough drafts, etc. in their drafting folders, filed in the DRAFTING BINS.  They do all the filing and take all the responsibility.

After the Author Celebration, my students pull their portfolio folders from the PORTFOLIO bins, hole punch their projects, add them to their portfolio rings, along with their "Walls of Fame," and file it away for safe keeping along with all their other projects and "Walls of Fame" from previous units.  

Other than training my students and grading their projects, they take all the responsibility and do all the work!

A couple of tips for the set up:
  • I use 2 small filing bins for our drafting folders.  Students numbered 1-13 go to a bin on one side of the room, and students numbered  14-26 go to the other side of the room.  That way there is less traffic at the bins.  :)  Small bins work well for drafting folders because there is only one project's worth of papers in that folder at a time.  I can still get 26 folders in a bin.   BUT, because there is only one class in my room at a time, I only have 13 students using each bin during a class period, so very little waiting in line...I hope that makes sense. :)
  • I use 2 LARGE filing bins for our portfolios because they will contain at least 8 projects, and 8 "Walls of Fame" before the end of the school year.  Those get rather full.  I do however, use the same system of splitting the class into bins on different sides of the room to help with traffic flow.  

That's it!  I hope you can use Author Celebrations in your classrooms and I hope our system of DRAFTING FOLDERS and filing PORTFOLIOS makes life a little easier for you!

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  1. What a fun way to celebrate writing! We will be using portfolios next year and love these ideas. Thanks, Brandee!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  2. Great way to keep all those writings organized! I was just in NYC for 11 days at the writing institute and reading institute. Lucy Calkins was my large group facilitator and she stressed how important author celebrations were. I plan on doing them this year.


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