Friday, April 22, 2011


I've been rethinking how I do things recently. I've never had students keep a portfolio. I evaluate student work, keep the best or at least the best from each student for different exhibitions, and send the art home. Everything sent home has a note attached that tells about the lesson, and, in most cases, a rubric evaluating the student work and the students' behavior during the lesson. Sending art home is my primary method of parent communication.

However, a few lessons this year have seemed to fall flat. If all their work was kept in a portfolio than students could go back and rework projects they didn't like. They could improve their grades in many cases, as well as be prouder of the work they create. I've always liked the idea of a portfolio before, anyway. It kills me to see drawings folded or stuffed into backpacks on the way home. I'm not sure how the storage works, though. Do the students keep their projects in the portfolio the entire time? Do they just put it in the portfolio when the class project is over? I also don't know where I would store the portfolios.

I did not have a school wide art show at either school this year. With only being at each school for a semester, it just seemed like too much. Plus, parent involvement tends to be very low. I just couldn't see going through all of the work of hanging work from each student to have only a handful of parents come to the show. However, we just had a district art show, with the opening on Tuesday night. I included about 75 different artwork between my two schools. It's a pretty big deal. I had 7 students come from my first school (which was a bit cheating, since five of these were from sibling groups.) Two students came from my current school, including one of my winners. I really talked up the opening, and several students said they would be there. The day after the opening, students kept coming up to me, explaining why they couldn't make it. I understand that it is hard for parents to take their students to the show. One student told me that his mom only had enough gas to take his dad to work. I realize other parents do not have cars. It really got me rethinking the school wide show. Yes, the district show is a big deal, but it is pretty far from my schools. I doubt that the kids feel as special about their work being included if they can't make it to the show. While I might not have a lot of parents make it to a school art show, it would at least be possible for them to get to the show. As an alternative, I'm thinking about a parent art night, where parents create art with their students.  I guess I could potentially do both.

Of course, all of these thoughts may not work out anyway. Our district is consolidating schools next year. Our superintendent just released his final recommendation to be sent to the school board. Both of my schools are on the list for closing. At this point, teachers have been reassured that they aren't planning on cutting any positions. With 11 elementary schools closing, I can hardly imagine that specialists like pe, library, counselors, music, and art will all have positions. At the very least, I will not be at the same schools next year.

This photo has nothing to do with this post, of course. Every post should have a photo, though, and this is my old dog, sleeping in my daughter's doll bed.


  1. WOW! Those are a lot of changes. I can't imagine what's racing through your mind with the possibility of closings. My worry is that my budget for next year will be cut in half!!
    But, about the portfolios. I keep them all year until the last week of school. The first day is always decorating the portfolios and the kids love it. At the end of each class I collect their unfinished work by tables and put them into the table folders. The folders go into the class's cubby. When a project is finished and graded I will pass it out at the beginning of their next class. They record their grade on a grade log and put into their portfolio. I will have "Catch-up" days during the year for work that may still be unfinished.
    Storage is another situation... Have don't have good storage for them. I kept them upright in a ruber maid one year. Pain to pull out because they were so cramped. They would slip through my hands when I pulled them out and cut me so many times. This year I stacked them on my clay cart..... still not good. If you know a good carpenter that could build you a special shelf unit just for them, that would be perfect!!

  2. Like Becca Ruth I also keep Portfolios and the first day of art class is when we decorate ours. About 4 times a year I organize their artwork into portfolios (or whenever the piles are getting too big) I keep them in my cabinets, organized by grade and teacher. I hand them back the second to last art class just in case someone is absent. It's fun because the students can go home and have a little art gallery in their living room and show their families. Plus, when you send home things throughout the year they tend to get lost/shoved into bookbags and it's just cooler this way. :]


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