Electronic Portfolios in the Middle School English Class – pt 1/3

The end of the quarter is always chaotic. Since I don’t use grades, I need some way to help students sort through nine weeks’ worth of activities. My district requires a single letter grade for report cards, however. So after a few reflection and curation activities students compose a grade reflection essay assigning themselves a single letter grade. Students compile all of this into a portfolio.

I’ve been tinkering with portfolios for the last three quarters. This year I decided to embrace my district’s iPad adoption program and take student portfolios online. What follows is a brief description of how I approached electronic portfolios this quarter. I’ve attached the Google Slide presentations I used just in case you want to modify and use them yourself.

I started out by creating a Google Slides portfolio template. I shared this template through Google Classroom, making a copy for each student in the process.

The portfolio template is a pretty bare bones affair. It begins with a table of contents slide. Each item in the T.o.C. links to its corresponding place in the presentation. I was originally going to have students create the links themselves, but the iPad version of the Google Slides app doesn’t allow for link additions. It also helped students focus on the actual content of each slide.


Once the template was done, it was time for our first portfolio lesson. Here’s a link to the slides. I make a Google Slides presentation for every day. It helps me keep my ideas sequenced correctly and provides useful visual reminders for students. That’s why you’ll see my TA/homeroom instructions, warm-ups, etc.

Students first had to rummage through their binders and brains to find one piece of work that exemplified their effort, growth, and experiences during first quarter English. I call these ‘learning artifacts.’ It’s tough to reduce an entire quarter down to only a single learning artifact, but I wanted to keep their first time relatively simple. I’ll up the amount for each quarter; quarter two will require two learning artifacts and so on. After discussing what makes an effective vs. ineffective artifact (pushed you! you’re proud of it! you took a risk!), students took a picture of the artifact and inserted the image onto the ‘Learning Artifact’ slide.

Then it came time to write the learning artifact explanation. I broke this down into two parts: summary and analysis. The summary consisted of more factual/reporting type questions. What is the artifact? What did you do on it? The heavy lifting comes in the analysis questions. What growth or learning occurred as a result of the artifact?


After answering the questions directly onto the slide, students deleted the questions themselves and arranged their answers into a rough paragraph. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the next step: students create analogies to reflect on and make sense of their quarter one English experience.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Pingback: English is a Human Body: Electronic Portfolios in the Middle School English Class – pt 2/3 | Mr. Anderson Reads & Writes
  2. Pingback: What Grade Do I Deserve? Electronic Portfolios in the Middle School English Class – pt. 3/3 | Mr. Anderson Reads & Writes
  3. Pingback: Lesson Lab: Autopsy of a Photo Blog Project | Mr. Anderson Reads & Writes
  4. Pingback: Pulling an Iceberg up a Mountain: A Portfolio Analogy | Mr. Anderson Reads & Writes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s