Categorized | Middle School, English, Project

Pondering Portfolios – Empowering Student Writers – 15MS401

Pondering Portfolios – Empowering Student Writers – 15MS401

This lesson is for : Grade 6:


Portfolios are an excellent way for students to take pride in their work as well as support the writing process. Making the portfolio personal to the student also adds a sense of student ownership, and allows the student to reflect on his or her growth. It was this very reasoning that convinced the entire 6th grade English Department to embrace the idea of student portfolios. Through the use of an ever evolving Google Doc, students have a way to share their written work throughout the school year with a global audience. The introduction of Google Groups made the sharing and peer review process a seamless endeavor. Google Groups allows for peer editing to occur within the classroom and for students to receive feedback from peers residing in other schools throughout Henrico County. The virtual connection established by students attending other schools throughout the county helped pave the way for new ideas that may not have been previously considered by a group of peer editors within the same classroom or school. The management of 300 student portfolios may seem like a daunting task, but with the help of the ITRT, a Google Site repository was created housing a link to each student portfolio. This hub provides the necessary student organization for collaboration to occur. Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms, in conjunction with add-ons such as Kaizena, Table of Contents, Doctopus, and Autocrat also helped leverage teacher and student productivity.

Click here to access the Portfolio Portal

TIPC Ratings

Research & Information Fluency

Rating: Ideal – Explanation: Research and Information fluency was one of the many forms of written language that the students had to keep a record of in their portfolios. Teachers, as well as the school librarian, modeled best research practices and supported students prior to their start of the research process. Students were able to choose an appropriate digital tool such as EasyBib, Google Research Panel, and/or Google Scholar to assemble and synthesize the information as it related to the topic (ie. Biographical Essays, Personal Narratives).

Communication & Collaboration

Rating: Ideal – Explanation: These student portfolios epitomize true communication and collaboration. Student organization was maintained through the use of a Google Site which provided students, teachers, and peer editors with the means to easily access 300 plus student portfolios. The use of add ons such as Kaizena allowed for teachers and students to leave verbal feedback within a Google Doc, and the Table of Contents Add-On for Google Docs helped editors easily navigate to various sections of this running document. Google Group sharing made it extremely easy to share the editing rights with other students in the class, as well as with other schools in Henrico County. Students reflected on the process by noting that they were able to keep their drafts and writing samples from this year organized, use valuable peer feedback within their portfolios to improve their final drafts, and a large majority hope to carry this portfolio experience into their seventh grade careers.

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

Rating: Ideal – Explanation: The student portfolios allowed for autonomous learning to occur on a daily basis. Rather than relying on teachers and classroom time for all instruction, students had the freedom to work on their portfolios whenever and wherever the mood struck allowing for them to be more independent, self-directed learners. Ultimately, through various perspectives and peer edits, critical thinking skills helped students to better understand the experiences and views of others hereby teaching students that any given problem can have multiple solutions. The portfolios over the course of the year changed the student mindset from a fixed “What do you expect of me?” to a growth “What can I do to improve my writing and how might I assist my peers to become better writers?”

Creativity & Innovation

Rating: Ideal – Explanation: The introduction of a yearlong student portfolios at the grade level created a paradigm shift in the thinking for both teachers and students this school year. The students and teachers utilized modern tools in order to make this as smooth a transition as possible. As is evident in the student work samples, students took a risk in sharing their work with classmates in order to get formative feedback. This feedback help inspire the students hereby allowing them the opportunity to generate new ideas to authentic tasks. It is also important to note that the writing portfolio was an excellent venue that allowed for the class to share links to other creative digital projects. Some of these items include, but are not limited to, Google Slide presentations, student created websites (tackk/Weebly), as well as creative additions such as Powtoon, Wordles, and a online images. These additions help to draw attention to their writing samples, as well as use the portfolio to showcase their projects throughout the year as well as essays.

Student Artifact


Lesson Materials

H21 Lesson Artifacts

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