Portfolios vs Scrapbooks

A portfolio should be more than a collection of student work. For a portfolio process to be useful, schools need to have a purpose for putting the work in place.

Simply putting student work into an online folder doesn’t do very much. Without a purpose, what you have is a digital scrapbook – a random collection of work that isn’t organized in any meaningful way.

There are many useful purposes for a portfolio, including:

  • Conferencing with parents about student achievements
  • Demonstrating how a student has grown over time
  • Demonstrating how student work is linked to standards
  • Connecting what students are doing in school with their college / career goals
  • Keeping track of all the steps in a student project (like a science fair exhibit or a capstone project)

Each of these purposes helps students figure out what they need to collect into the portfolio. For a parent conference, maybe we want to see show progress in reading and math – and any special skills the student has demonstrated. If we tie the portfolio to student goals, then the student can start making connections between classwork and what they want to do after high school.

As you explore the work with portfolios, having a purpose in mind can help focus what teachers and students are collecting.