Why use student portfolios?
Portfolios are a great way to perform an authentic, performance-based assessment. Through a portfolio, teachers are able to gauge student growth, conceptual understanding, and more complex skills. By requiring students to choose, explain, and justify the items they include, portfolios become more than just an assessment; they can extend and deepen a student’s learning. According to Jay McTighe, “Involving learners in creating the assessment portfolio builds students’ capacity for self-assessment. The ability to honestly appraise one’s performance against established criteria and performance standards is a life-long skill and a sign of intellectual maturity.”* Using portfolios shifts the emphasis of assessment from a comparison of student achievement to improving student achievement through evaluative feedback and self-reflection, thereby creating more student ownership over their learning.
* McTighe, J. (2018). 3 Key questions on measuring learning. Educational Leadership Magazine, 75(5), pp. 14-20.
Creating Student Portfolios
There are two basic types of portfolios: process-oriented and product-oriented. In process-oriented, students are asked to show growth over time. This growth should be tied directly to identified educational goals. Product-oriented portfolios are used to highlight the best work of the student. Students choose a number of items to include that reflect their best effort or achievement in a course of study.
Artifacts in a student portfolio can include: written work, videos, artwork, projects, journals, or any item that will show evidence of learning. Including a diverse set of artifacts will help to bring the portfolio to life.
Student reflection is the most important step for students in creating their portfolios. When adding an artifact to their portfolio, they should explain why they chose that artifact, how it compares with other artifacts, what particular skills and knowledge were used to produce it, and where he or she might improve. This allows the student to take an active role in the assessment process and allows students to make concrete connections between their school work and the value of what it is they’re learning.
Once they are created, ePortfolios provide new opportunities to share student work with others, for feedback, and for collaboration with peers. An ePortfolio makes it very easy to share student work with parents on an ongoing basis. Depending on the platform, students may be able to give and receive feedback and collaborate with their peers to extend learning opportunities.
Digital Portfolio Tools
There are a number of tools available that students can use to create an ePortfolio:
Seesaw is a simple way to build a digital portfolio in any classroom. Teachers set up their classes and students add photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, Google docs, and links to show their work. They can then use Seesaw’s built-in audio recording, drawing, and caption tools to reflect on and explain their learning. Portfolio items are organized into folders created by the teacher, and the teacher can easily access all student artifacts. Families can also be invited to view updates to their child’s Seesaw journal. Once a teacher approves a new addition to a student’s journal, that item is shared with the student’s parents. Seesaw journals can also be shared with other students and with other classrooms, and they can provide feedback on students’ journal entries, providing students with an authentic audience.
Students can use Adobe Spark Pages to design a space to share and curate their work samples from a variety of media. They can link to or embed their artifacts on their Spark Page and include written reflections on their artifacts. They can also use Adobe Spark Videos to create video reflections and explanations of their work and learning. Though students can continually update an Adobe Spark page, they may be better suited to product-oriented, or best work, portfolios.
There are several blogging tools available for students to use to create a portfolio. These include Kidblog, Edublogs, Weebly, and several others. As blogs are updated over time, these are ideally suited for process-oriented student portfolios.
Students can create their own Weebly website to use as the platform for their ePortfolio. If over 13, students could independently create their own Weebly sites if desired. However, students under 13 or older students if a teacher prefers, can use special student accounts set up by the teacher through education.weebly.com provided the teacher has attained parental consent. Again, this platform allows students to curate an ePortfolio by linking to or embedding content on their Weebly site and including written reflections on their learning. Weebly’s blogging feature creates a great platform for students to add content and reflect on their learning throughout the year. With both static pages and the blogging feature, Weebly is suited to both process-oriented and product-oriented portfolios.
Google Sites is another easy-to-use platform for students to build their ePortfolios, especially when Google Apps, such as Docs and Slides, are utilized heavily in the classroom. Any content in their Google Drive can easily be linked and anything they have made using Google Apps can be embedded on the page. They can add text-based reflections and explanations of their work. Students can choose to make their Google Site public or only allow people with granitesd Google accounts to view it.
OneNote Class Notebook
OneNote is another simple tool for students to use to build and organize an ePortfolio. With OneNote Class Notebook, teachers create a OneNote notebook for each student where they can share their learning. The OneNote interface is organized in a way that it looks and works much like a notebook with sections and pages, so it is very easy for students to organize their work. Content can be linked or embedded and students can include written reflections or record audio reflections directly within the app.
To learn more about using OneNote for ePortfolios:
- OneNote Class Notebook as an e-Portfolio
- Microsoft Educator Community: Using OneNote Class Notebook as Digital Portfolio
Students using Canvas have the ability to create ePortfolios directly within Canvas. Students can add text, embed content, work they have submitted to Canvas, or other images and files to their portfolio.