Creating a portfolio is a wonderful way for students to showcase their accomplishments during the school year. It provides a space to highlight areas of growth and an opportunity to celebrate their success. A portfolio can act as a capstone to a semester, year, or multi-year learning experience, and it is perfect for students of all ages.

What is a portfolio? A portfolio consists of pieces of student work, often chosen by the student and sometimes with the support of an educator or mentor. It sometimes includes a series of reflections or a story that goes along with each piece featured in the portfolio. For example, you might have students open up their laptops and build a slide deck that features links or pictures to each part of the work. Or you might have students snap photos with a smartphone of a physical piece of work and build a website that includes pictures, links, and stories. There are lots of options for creating a portfolio!

Capture Learning

The first reason on your list for why every student should create a portfolio might be to simply capture their learning when they participate in exciting and engaging authentic assessments or participate in a project-based learning initiative. Students who create products of their learning in digital spaces using tools like a mobile phone or laptop can share links to their creations in a portfolio. They can turn

the links to their work into a QR code for a physical portfolio or include the links to a digital item if they create their portfolio with digital tools.

Showcase Hard Work

A portfolio is a great way to showcase students' hard work, whether they are learning in a traditional classroom or working on an independent project. Students who participate in an independent study can use a portfolio to showcase their effort and achievements. This is an excellent option for students working hard on an independent project and might not have classmates by their side as they work.

Celebrate Accomplishments

Portfolios can serve as a tool for students to celebrate accomplishments. With a portfolio, students typically pick out their favorite pieces of work from a semester or school year. Then, they can come together as a group and show off their portfolios to classmates, friends, and family members, too. You can pair the unveiling of student portfolios with a celebration. A virtual or face-to-face gathering can allow students to talk about their favorite pieces from their portfolios.

Prepare for the Unknown

Although students might have an idea of their next steps after finishing the school year or graduating from school, there are plenty of unknowns in their future. For example, a creative writing program or mentorship opportunity might not be on their radar right now, but having a portfolio ready to go can help them apply for future learning opportunities.

Whether students create a portfolio to carry around in a binder or make a digital version that is easily accessible on a smartphone or laptop computer, having a collection of their work is a must. With the help of families, teachers, and mentors, students can select a few items they would like to showcase and create a collection of their accomplishments this year!


Monica Burns, Ed.D. is a curriculum and educational technology consultant, and founder of She hosts the Easy EdTech Podcast and is author of Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom.

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