School Portfolios

Portfolios of work are very common in certain fields, like photography, modeling, art, architecture and so on.

They are a good idea for school students as well – as a place to collect good examples of your work to show people. Seeing an essay gives someone a much better idea of what you can do – much better than a simple mark.

The Council of Europe has a European Language Portfolio but this is over complicated. It has three parts: a language passport, a language biography, and a dossier. The language passport lists your proficiency in various languages. The language biography is a history of your language learning. And the dossier is the actual portfolio part, and that is what we are really interested in. The other information would be found on your CV for example so is extraneous.

A portfolio is simply a collection of works arranged in some way, perhaps chronologically, to show to someone. So, it’s basically a folder of some kind. It could be a real folder or a virtual, electronic folder. Of course, it’s best to have a paper version and an electronic one, just in case.

What is the best kind of folder?

What is the best kind of paper folder? Well, it’s really up to you, or it would be, if I was your teacher. You choose the folder. Something you are happy with, but which has enough room and protects your work properly, from sticky fingers as well was the rain and snow. It could be a ring-binder or a folder of plastic sleeves.

A ring binder but not a very attractive one – choose better!

Choose something pretty, or professional looking. Something you’d be happy to use, carry around and show people.

What should go in the portfolio?

Your best work.

It’s that simple. You could choose to include just one example of each kind of work you do, or the best five examples. You should include examples of:

  • essays
  • presentations
  • posters and infographics
  • a reading journal
  • any other types of written work you have done
  • projects

How should I use it?

Well, ideally you’ll start in Year 10 and add work as you do it through the year. At the end of the year you should review your portfolio and just keep the very best examples. Say, the five best essays you wrote in the year.

These can be organised chronologically, in the order you wrote them or best first.

In Year 11, as you write more essays for example you can replace the essays from Year 10 with better ones from Year 11. And you should keep doing this in Year 12. But it is never too late to start so you can start your Portfolio in Year 11 or Year 12.

By the end of Year 12 you will have a portfolio of work you can be proud of.

But what about presentations?

That’s a good question. How can your provide evidence of a presentation. You could include a printout of the presentation slides but that does not tell us about how it went as a presentation. You might not even have given it. You could record it, but then that’s not paper-based evidence. So, I suggest you include documentary evidence of your presentation.

Include a document about your presentation. Include this information:

  1. Title of presentation
  2. Brief description of the content of the presentation
  3. Date of presentation
  4. Statement about the audience: who were they? how many people were in the audience?
  5. Refection from you: what did you learn from the experience of giving the presentation?
  6. Your rating of the presentation on a scale of 1 -10.
  7. A signed note from your teacher to say the presentation happened on this date and her 9or his) comments about the presentation. This might be a separate presentation feedback form.

This kind of information will tell the person looking at your portfolio that you have given one or more presentations and that you have learned something from the experience.

So, that’s it. You have your folder of some kind and examples of your work. Do you need anything else? Well a title page would be nice and a contents page. And perhaps your CV.

© Robert Buckmaster 2022