I have been trying to help my students create portfolios ever since I started teaching. Every attempt was a failure.
Failure #1) Paper Portfolios
A paper portfolio sounds like a great way for students to showcase their work. We can imagine students working diligently to keep their work organized. It never worked out that way. Each year I found that it was too difficult for kids to keep their work together and neat.
We started online portfolios on Google sites. The idea was that kids would be able to document each unit and all the cool stuff that we were doing in class.
Here is a picture of the template:
Google Sites online portfolio that students were to copy and customize
My students were not able to easily digitize their work for their online portfolios and it was not worth entire days of work time. Unless you want to devote a lot of time to teaching kids how to edit pages, menus, and format their work neatly, this is a no-go.
On to what works.
Hello, Trello Boards
Trello is a different take on a collaborative productivity app. It is based on boards, lists, and cards. It is a great way to organize a lot of information neatly and collaborate on projects.
This board is where I store links to resources for our class.
The cards can be sorted, moved, and copied to class boards. When a student starts learning a new skill, they are to copy a card to our class board. They use their cards to documenting their progress on skills or projects as shown here.
Each group has a card that they update. In this case, each Trello card has a checklist (from when they copied it from my board) to help them remember their next steps.
I wander around the room during work time and take pictures of groups working with my phone. I do this in the Trello app and each picture becomes an attachment in their card. Kids are impressed when they have access to the photo on their devices a few seconds later!
Here is the best part – if students are using Trello cards to show progress and document projects, then they can keep a copy of each of their completed cards on a personal portfolio board! The lists at the top of the board can be set to any topic. Boards can then be set to ‘public’ and submitted with college applications.