Sunday, November 7, 2010

Portfolios in the Elementary Art Classroom

I have been trying to figure out for a long time how to manage art portfolios for my 400 plus students.  The idea has always been daunting.  Where do you keep so much paper?  How do you organize such enormous amounts of paper for extended periods of time.  What do you include in a child's art portfolio?

A presentation at the art education conference this week was on just that topic.  Lucky for me, it was presented by a teacher in my county, Libya Doman.  I could see very directly how to make the portfolio work with the curriculum I teach.

One thing that she did that I hadn't considered before was to have different portfolios for each unit of study.  This way you are not keeping massive amounts of paperwork around for extended periods of time.  We have students plan their art work in both written form and preliminary sketches.  A portfolio enables you to keep that planning information with the actual finished product.  Then, after they complete the work, they do a variety of written works that accompany the work, including self assessments and artist statements.  This is all kept together with the art work.  

This is the assembled portfolio for a third grade unit on ancient Chinese art.
Portfolio Cover
Planning sketch for copper tooling of Chinese taotie

Copper tooling of taotie
Mythical story about the taotie the student created
Student's reflection on their work

Information about Chinese brush painting

Practice sheet of Chinese brush strokes

Practice painting of their taotie

Teacher's scoring

One of the other genius things that she does is to assign a homework assignment in which the children take the portfolio home and discuss it with their parents.  There are suggested questions that the child can ask the parent.  The parent gives feedback on what they see and the child transcribes the response the best that they can.  This is a great opportunity for connection between the child and the parent, and it also informs the parent about exactly what the child is learning in art. 

I know that some children do not value their art and some parents do not value children's art.  Some parents value the work but have no idea as to the depth of the work.  Presenting the work in this form demonstrates how much effort went into the piece.  I believe that in this form, children would be more proud of their work since it does represent a body of work and effort.  This also seems like such a great tool for advocacy for the art program.


LDH said...

These are great portfolio ideas. You sure do have a lot of student art work to tend with.

We have 12 years of Abbeys's art work. I have tried storing in large plastic containers, large portfolios but still have so much. Just the stuff she has from high school is a lot. There is so much that she parted with but still finding ways to store (without a basement) is challenging.

therese english perdue said...

I've been thinking about portfolios a TON lately! I'm a second year teacher and I want to plan an art show this year... and it seems that portfolios is the easiest way to organize it. But just like you said, where would I keep all those?? How do you handle art shows using the portfolios?

I absolutely love how the portfolios had reflections and stories... what a great way to inform parents! thanks for sharing! :)

Snippety Gibbet said...

Thanks for leaving a comment, Therese. I haven't tried this yet.

One thought that pops to mind is that you could photograph the work and put that in the portfolio instead of the actual work. For the folks that do Artsonia, that'd be especially easy.

Julie said...

This is a wonderful system!!! That child did some great work !!! I had never heard of a taotie before!!! The copper art is so pretty!!!

Barbarasthoughtoftheday said...

I love this idea. Thanks for sharing. It seems so manageable for student and teacher.

random Cindy said...

Great ideas. I love the parent and child homework assignment. We are blessed with art teachers that send home newsletters with info about what the children are doing as well as fact sheets with the projects. Folders come home several times a year. Now if I could just get organized with the art they do at home!