Sunday, February 16, 2014

Portfolios in Kindergarten: learning stories

For many years we have heard the same story from our parents, "My child does not tell anything about school."/ "I wish my child can tell me more about his day".
Our Kindergarten team decided to change the way we reflect on learning. We decided to reflect after every unit of inquiry (we have 4 units in K) not through report cards but with help of portfolios. We did use portfolios on the day of student led conferences, however it was only happening once a year. We think that it is important for parents to hear a learning story from a child rather than teachers. And it should happen often.
What did we change?
We decided to have an individual portfolio for every child (A3 folder)  where a teacher collected child's learning story. We create a template with essential elements that we agree on first at out grade level meetings. According to PYP, we, as a team, build our unit together. We decide on central idea, inquiry lines, teacher questions, assessments (pre-assessment, formative, summative), skills (thinking, social, communication, self-management, research), learner profile and attitude. Then we create a template where our expectations are written. Every teacher plan, work and collect group and individual work of a student in accordance with these expectations. Here are some examples:

This is a cover  of a Portfolio decorated by a student with sparkly sticky paper. It says "Güneş" that means "sun", this is a girl's name in Turkish.
 The first page gives the general idea about units name, theme, inquiry line and decorated by a student.

Research skill:collecting data...
This child interviewed a friend and collected some data. There is also a group thinking example of what it is to be a good friends. There is also an article from a newspaper that this child brought to school when we were learning about owls. I think this is a great example of a child being a researcher:)
As you will notice we put explanation for every essential skill in order to help our parents learn more about PYP. While this is parents' first year at our school, they are not familiar with the way we teach through inquiry. We found it helpful with portfolios; portfolios in our case became a learning adventure for all of us: children, families and teachers!

 At this particular unit "Let's be Friends" we emphasize the importance of being 'caring' (learner profile). The teacher chose to put photo examples of a child watering plants and helping a friend to go down the hill.

Another example of collecting data ,'All about me', that is a part of home-school link. 
 Collecting data: a leaf hunt
 Self-Management skills: codes of behavior in our class and 'Give me five', a small poster of rules for circle time.
 Communication skills: Listening... examples of children listening at a ceremony, listening to each other, listening to an adult.
 thinking skills: acquisition of knowledge... gaining facts, vocabulary ( English is our additional language). We added one of the poems that kids learnt during that time.

 Self-Management skills: we worked on Gross Motor skills! Lots of outdoor games were included in the portfolio.
 Pre-assessment with a teacher's comment is included.
 Understanding of  concepts: 1
 Understanding of  concepts: 2
 Understanding of  concepts: 3
 Summative assessment record

This is a part that needs to be filled by parents. We include questions for parents to understand students learning at home to catch ACTION.  We ask parents to reflect on inquiry if their child show some understanding and show some changes.

We encouraged cooperation during this unit of inquiry... These are two different children's examples.
 What is it being principled in kindergarten? Here are examples of this specific child playing a board game with her friends and photos are supported by Teacher's comments.

We enjoyed the process very much as much as children enjoyed learning and taking their "Big Books' home, as much as parents loved at looking and learning about their child's learning story. Thank you!