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How to Store and to Use Portfolios in the Language Arts Classroom

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 2/16/2012

Portfolios are a great educational tool to use in the classroom that can show growth and learning, although making them work effectively can be difficult at times. Find out how to store the portfolios and how to plan the use of them in your class.

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    Tips on Storing and Planning Portfolio Use

    Portfolio collection can be a messy affair. Generally, students need to be taught how to organize any information. Keeping the portfolios organized throughout a school year can be quite difficult.

    First, the teacher needs to decide what he or she wants to collect and how the final portfolio should look. Generally, there is a working portfolio where students store items. Then, there is a final portfolio that contains final copies of pieces to be assessed as a whole at the end of the year. This is addressed in more detail in Part 2 and Part 3 of this series of lessons on portfolios. Next, the teacher needs to make some decisions on how to use them on a daily or weekly basis.

    Where and How Will the Working Portfolios be Stored?

    To start with, a teacher needs to decide if artwork or pieces larger than normal copy paper will need to be stored. Some teachers have been known to use pizza boxes with student names on them. The pizza boxes could be stored on a large shelf or in a storage room. This is not something that most classrooms can handle, especially if a teacher has over 100 students.

    The easiest way to store items in a working portfolio is to have students purchase pocket folders. To make it easy for the middle school or high school teacher, each class could have a different color folder. These can be stored on a shelf, in a filing cabinet, or in a storage cabinet. Three ring binders are nice, but they use more room. To add individuality, students can decorate the folders. It is important that the student's name is visible.

    How Will they be Used During the School Year?

    The teacher needs to make many decisions before the school year begins.

    • Will all written drafts go into the portfolio?
    • Will only final copies go into the portfolio?
    • Will the working portfolios be passed out to the students each time writing is assigned?
    • Will students be allowed to take the working portfolio home?
    • Will students receive a grade for keeping the portfolio organized?

    These are all questions that need to be considered before making portfolios part of the curriculum. If the teacher has a grand plan before using the portfolios, then the students will be able to understand the portfolio's significance.

Portfolios in the Middle School

Portfolios have been around for years. Many teachers have questions about where to put them, what goes in them and how to assess them. This series of lessons will offer tips and address these questions.
  1. How to Store and to Use Portfolios in the Language Arts Classroom
  2. Tips on Planning & Organizing Student Portfolios
  3. Assessing Student Portfolios at the Middle School Level