Getting the most from student portfolios

Gary FalconProduct Features, School Management

As the school year starts many teachers are looking for new ways to approach old lessons. Student portfolios, already a classroom staple for teachers, are a great place to start.

In the traditional classroom, portfolios might consist of a three-ring binder with dividers, each section designated for a different type of assignment or unit in the course. They allow students to assemble their work over time and turn it in to their teacher as a cohesive assignment.

If we want students to completely engage in the learning process, however, using those portfolios to reflect on their experiences is key. Portfolios allow students to see their growth and learning, and also to answer the essential questions of a lesson for themselves.

Digital portfolios are a great way to streamline this process for students, and make it easier for everyone – students, teachers, and parents – to better communicate about student progress.

For example, students who assemble portfolios in a learning management system have the opportunity to share their work with classmates if they choose, allowing for valuable feedback and revision. Peer review is a tried-and-true method in student-centered learning, and incorporating it into a year-long or term-long portfolio helps students develop those skills.

Digital portfolios also open up a world of opportunities for students to use different media to complete their different requirements. Instead of printed out sheets in a notebook, students can use photography, digital media, and videos to make their portfolios a richer, more well-rounded experience.

Using a digital portfolio also allows students to focus on the “how” and “why” of their assignments. Many school management software options allow students to put comments or notes on their assignments, creating a space for reflecting on how the assignment was created, what the creative process was like, and why what they did was important or meaningful. Pushing students past just completing the work toward reflecting on their learning is really the goal of any lesson.

Ready to make the leap to a learning management system for your classroom but not sure where to start? Please download your school management software checklist to help determine what your school’s needs are.