When my oldest started high school, I knew I needed a new planner. This one would be different from any of my other planners because it would be as much about record-keeping as lesson planning. The result of my brainstorming was the High School 4 Year Plan, a resource designed to ensure that my high schooler and I would have everything we needed all in one place when it came time to create her transcript or a portfolio.
When it came to keeping up with records, though, I discovered that there were always a few extras that needed to be kept as well. Samples of work, test scores, awards, and more all needed to be sorted and organized, and I didn’t want to just slide them into the planner and run the risk of losing them. So, I decided instead to purchase a binder, remove the spiral binding from the 4 Year Plan, and store everything together inside the binder.
Obviously, this meant that there was a way I could improve on the 4 Year Plan! So, I created the High School Portfolio Binder, specially designed to coordinate with the 4 Year Plan to provide you with everything you need to create a complete portfolio. The 4 Year Plan and High School Portfolio Binder are sold separately, so each can be used independently, or they can be combined to provide all you need for a complete high school portfolio.
When you receive your new planner and binder, the first thing to do is to remove the spiral binding from your planner and separate the sections. Find the pages designated for each year: freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. Put each of these sets of pages into your binder behind the appropriate dividers.
Behind the 4 Year Plan tab, put any forms that help you lay out your plan. Keep in mind that this organization is intended for what fits you best! Some will only put the Four Year Plan form and the Jr. High Credits form (if applicable) in this section, then add additional information that is accumulated along the way, finding a different place for the helpful articles. Others will also include transcript samples and forms, articles and suggestions, and other information behind this tab. Think about what fits your organizational style the best. What will help you and your student stay best organized along the way?
The Next Steps tab is for any information relating to post-graduation plans. This can include the college planning forms found in the back of the 4 Year Plan, and this is where you will accumulate scholarship information, anything related to college applications, information regarding jobs and internships, as well as relevant applications for those. If you decide to not put articles and other forms behind the 4 Year Plan tab, this might be a great spot for those resources.
Using the Planner Pages
Now that you’re all set up, you’re ready to start building that portfolio! Instead of rushing and panicking in the months leading up to graduation, you’ll have accumulated the information you need all along.
First, make note of any high school credits earned in seventh or eighth grade, if applicable. This might include courses like Algebra 1, often taken in eighth grade, or a high school level science credit taken in junior high.
Next, you will create a tentative four-year plan. It’s best to do this in pencil, because it will most likely change! Using the helpful articles about building a transcript, determining credits, and selecting electives as a guide, lay out goals and plans on the Four Year Plan page. You can then make adjustments along the way.
From there, it’s all about lesson planning and recording! Each year includes a Curriculum Plan page that allows you to get more specific about your goals for the year. List subjects and resources needed, make a list of literature goals, and plan out community involvement and volunteer/leadership goals for the year. Just as with any homeschool year, you’ll want to create daily assignments, enter grades, and record attendance (if needed) throughout the year. That’s what the monthly and weekly spreads are designed for. Every two months, you’ll find places to record attendance, grades, and projects. This helps you keep up with details in short bursts. At the end of each semester, you will have a Semester Summary page where you can take the information from each bi-monthly summary and accumulate it all to record attendance, grades, achievements, accomplishments, and literature read for that semester. Simply repeat these steps each semester and year throughout your student’s high school years!
These little steps taken along the way will add up, providing the information you’ll need when it comes time to create a transcript, complete an application, or build a portfolio.
Adding Other Information
Along the way, you’ll also find other things that you’ll want to hang on to. This will include sample work, standardized test results, award and recognition letters, information about clubs or other programs that your student has been involved in, and more. This is where the binder really comes in handy!
Some of these bits and pieces will be able to be hole punched and added directly to the binder. With other things, though, you’ll probably want to find some page protectors designed to be stored in a 3-ring binder. Slide anything you don’t want to hole punch into these page protectors and place them behind the appropriate tab. Some will go behind a specific year, while others may fit better behind the 4 Year Plan or Next Steps tab.
Again, the goal is to collect anything and everything that represents what your student is accomplishing during these four years. Will you need it all? Probably not! But, do you know exactly what you will and won’t need right now? Definitely not! By keeping it all in one place in the High School Portfolio Binder, you’ll be able to easily put your hands on what is needed when the time comes.
These little steps taken throughout each week, month, semester, and year of your student’s high school career will ensure that you have everything you need right at your fingertips when graduation approaches.