Thursday, June 16, 2011

Creating a Year End Portfolio

section dividers - handwritten on copy paper

masking tape - the adhesive of choice

Could anything add to her sense of importance more than an envelope labeled "official business?"

Yesterday I put together Kara's year end portfolio. When we lived in Pennsylvania we were required by the school district to turn in a portfolio of our students' work. Every June I sorted through our papers and filled a two inch binder with samples from every subject. I always resented the requirement but I came to recognize that seeing the best of the year's work in one place was very satisfying.

Now we are no longer required to turn in our portfolios, but I continue making them for our benefit. The portfolios have changed. In Pennsylvania I included representative samples of math lessons and spelling pages, but long term those aren't the pages we love to look back on, so I leave those out, saving the highlights, pages that show hard work and her personality.

Kara's portfolio this year includes a title page listing the year's accomplishments. On this page I list her completion of Saxon 3, which is all I need to remember about those math worksheets. I list the sports she played, the trip to Mount Magazine, the Odd Jobs Business she started, and more. Then I have pages listing the books she read, although I did fall behind in the spring and need to figure out how to keep that from happening next year. Then I have sections full of Kara's own work; copywork, history coloring pages, book reports in over-crowded block print, and every edition of the family newspaper she wrote this year. The best section, by far, is the science section. Kara, the budding scientist, has an impressive collection of projects, each one completed on her own initiative, in her free time. So, you'll see, they're not exactly neat, nor edited, but she's pursuing her passion and I'm not going to squelch that excitement. I thought about not posting the pictures, because I cringe at all those misspelled words, but I think that's just a silly pride on my part, and I will squelch that. This spring Kara began writing to her Congressman and Senator and to NASA, lobbying for manned space flights and the letters she received in return are treasured. An 8 by 10 glossy of our Senator hanging above her bed is a little too much for me, but I breathe deep, kiss her and pour on the encouragement.

Today we need to add a few pages of photos to the portfolio. I'm resisting the temptation to decorate them myself. I saw Kara's eyes light up when I told her she could make the pages all by herself, adding writing and stickers or keep it simple. She is excited, and pleased, with her year of learning, gathered, displayed, and appreciated.

I can teach and require that all the basics are practiced every day, but I can't create enthusiasm. If, after twelve years, I have a child passionate about learning, I'll consider that a success. This year there was no shortage of enthusiasm.

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