During my time as a middle school learning specialist, my colleague Cara Shannon and I created a plan surrounding transitions and self advocacy. We did a lot of work around self advocacy in 5th, 6th, and 7th grades but this blog will focus on how we got 8th grade students to make an individualized portfolio, email their high school case manager, and present their portfolio all before graduation. Here's my break down:
One month before graduation: Students create their own portfolio. It includes:
- High School Portfolio cover page
- Strengths, Areas of Need, and Strategies page for students
- Testing Accommodations page
- Modifications and Accommodations page for each subject
- Complete this Things that Are Difficult for Me checklist (It's from my favorite book)
Students should include one example of work that they have completed from each subject. This work should show an ACCURATE representation of what their work looks like with the modifications and accommodations listed. I like printing the accommodations and modification pages on colored paper so that they stick out and look different than their student work.Three weeks before graduation: Students would write an email to their case manager (they cc-ed me on it). Here is a template I emailed to students. We worked on changing it and individualizing it together. At the end of the email they asked to meet with the case manager to go over their portfolio. I also sent the case manager my own email.
|Here is an example email from a graduated eighth grader.|
Two weeks before graduation: This is the busiest time! I contacted parents and asked permission to take their child to meet the case manager at the high school. I had the student practice presenting their portfolio. Here is a picture of one amazing former student reading his portfolio on the train ride over to his meeting with the high school case manager.
Last Week of School or So: I would get admin and parent permission to go over to the high school with the student or group of students. Students went over their portfolio with the case manager and would leave it there for them to have and refer to.
Students will still email me and let me know that they are self advocating and the case managers were always incredibly impressed by the confident teenager in front of them, going through their portfolio and talking about strategies that work. I highly recommend other middle school learning specialists out there to create a portfolio system of their own (and let me know how it goes)!