Saturday, March 8, 2014

Making a Writing Portfolder: A Tutorial

Once children are ready to write independently, it can be challenging to know how to guide them. In this tutorial, children's imaginations will be stirred as they complete a variety of assignments, many of them inspired by published writing. Each piece will begin as a draft on notebook paper (or a computer screen) and end as a typed mini-book which will be displayed on a portfolder shell to be read and enjoyed for years to come.

See the happy faces of kids who have made them before?


Before we begin, I'd like you to remember a few things.

First, it's important for kids to begin with a blank screen or sheet of paper so they are free to engage in the writing process. If you give them the flaps, folds, or mini-books for the portfolder too soon, you will either 1) not see the child's best writing or 2) end up with eraser smudges or tears. Save the mini-books for the final copies!

Similarly, stress the process of writing in these assignments. The first draft is likely not the best you can get from your students.

To make the final product extra special, I recommend that students' work be typed, cut (preferably with a paper cutter), and glued (with a glue stick) onto the mini-books.

Think of my ideas as suggestions. If you deviate from them because you or your children have a better idea, I'll never know. Similarly, if you want to change the order of the mini-books, do it. The goal is to propel your children to write, to end up with a project that satisfies them. If that is accomplished, celebrate!

Writing doesn't have to be laborious or tedious. Have fun!

Oh, and if anything is unclear, PLEASE let me know.

Now I think we're ready to begin.

Gather Supplies
The basic supplies are listed here for you.

Make a Portfolder Shell
Follow Steps 1-3 here to make a single portfolder.

Mini-Book #1: Acrostic Name Poem
Find the instructions for writing the acrostic poem here.

When the acrostic is finished, follow these instructions to make a flapbook for the portfolder. (Press the i to see the instructions.)

As the mini-books are completed, store them in a large zip-top bag to protect them. The flapbook is the bag's first resident! We will wait until the projects are all collected in the bag before we begin laying them out and pasting them to the portfolder.

Mini-Book #2: I Know What I Like
Look here for this writing assignment based on a picture book by Norma Simon. Then follow the slideshow below to make a circle book. (Press the i to see the instructions.)

Plop the finished book in the plastic bag to join the acrostic flapbook. Now the bag has two cozy residents!

Mini-Books # 3 and #4: Metaphors
Students will make two shutterfold books of metaphors, following the post here. For each word they choose, ask them to write a list of comparisons, developing five of them with sensory details. When they are finalized, one metaphor can be put on the outside cover, adjacent to the title. The other four can be pasted in each of the sections on the inside of the mini-book. Do this for two mini-books.

When the metaphors are ready, follow these instructions to make two shutterfold books for the portfolder. (Press the to see the instructions.)

Put the mini-books in the storage bag. They're adding up!

Mini-Book #5: Important Things
Students will make a book of three to six important things, following the instructions here.

The important things will go in a bound book. Watch the slideshow to see how to make it.

Arrange the paragraphs on the pages. Illustrate them or include photos. Put a title on the front cover. Voilà. You have another book to add to the bag.

Mini-Book #6: Writing in Threes
The next mini-book is a filmstrip book. Follow the instructions for writing in threes here.

Students will have three pages in their filmstrip book, one for each of their important things. On the frames of the filmstrip piece, they will make illustrations which correspond to the pages of their mini-book. When the reader is reading page one, the filmstrip piece will be pulled to the right to allow the first picture to be viewed in the frame. This piece will be pulled to the left to allow the second picture to be viewed when the reader is ready for page 2. It will be pulled completely to the left when the reader is ready for page 3.

When the filmstrip book is complete, add it to the zip-top bag.

Mini-Book #7: Circular Story
Next up is a circular story, modeled after Laura Numeroff's If You Give... books. You can find the lesson here.

Follow the instructions below to make a layered book for the portfolder. (Press the to see the instructions.)

Look at that growing bag! Pull out the collection of books and admire each one.

Mini-Book #8: Diary of a Critter
It is now time for students to write diaries...with a twist. They will not be writing about their lives but instead about the life of a critter, maybe a grasshopper or a ladybug or whatever suits their fancy. You can find the lesson here. The number of entries is up to you, but I recommend at least ten.

You won't need a slideshow to make this super easy mini-book. Just cut squares from white or colored copy paper (approximately 5" x 5"), enough for the diary entries, the front cover, and the back cover. So, if your student has ten entries, the book will have twelve pages. Staple on the left and, as promised, you have a super easy book.

Once the diary is completed, it can also be placed in the bag.

Mini-Book #9: Two Stories, One Pattern
For this assignment, we're going to toss in some basic literary analysis. Go here to find the books and the story mapping sheet to begin the process.

You can make this book in three easy steps. (Press the to see the instructions.)

Into the bag it goes, joining the rest of the mini-books.

Mini-Book #10: Excuses, Excuses
Do you hear a lot of excuses when it's time to write? Well, don't let all that griping and grumbling go to waste. Invite your kids to use their best excuses in a poem explained here.

Place both poems--the original and your student's--in an accordion-fold book, explained below. To print the poem, right-click the poem (here), paste it into a Word document, and edit it as you wish.

When it's ready, add it to the bag. We're almost finished making and collecting mini-books.

Mini-Book #11: How-to Writing
Follow the lesson here--the simple or extended version--for a how-to writing assignment.

When the text is revised and edited, display it in a top tab book. If there are four steps, place one step on each tab/page. If there are eight steps, place two steps on each tab/page.

Another mini-book to add to the bag!

Putting It All Together
Finally, we have enough projects to fill a single portfolder. (Of course, if you want to add more writing projects, you can always add extensions to your portfolder. It's not complicated!)

To plan the layout of the portfolder, have students spread out (and admire) the mini-books. Since the filmstrip book and the top tab book are the largest of the mini-books, they will need to go in the main section--the window--of the portfolder. Anchor them with paperclips.

The rest of the mini-books will fit on the fronts and backs of the flaps--or shutters.Students can tinker with the arrangement until it is pleasing to the eye, using paperclips to hold the books in place. No pasting yet!

If any of the mini-books are lacking titles, take care of that before pasting.

Once students are sure the mini-books are ready and they are happy with the arrangement, they can get a glue stick and carefully paste the mini-books to the portfolder, aligning them carefully.

(Optional): Give students stickers and markers to decorate the white spaces of the portfolder.

And there you have it: a finished portfolder proudly displaying eleven pieces of student writing.


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