Middle School Digital Portfolios


Last year I experimented with digital portfolios in my Journalism class. Third trimester, students were asked to create a website that demonstrated their growth as a writer and journalist throughout the year in Journalism class. The directions for the Journalism portfolio are here:


We used weebly because it is free and very user friendly and works fairly well on the ipad, though students preferred to use the desktop. It’s not perfect. It frequently asks students to switch to a pay website, and that was an issue. This year I am toying with using google sites on recommendation from Creighton.

Some benefits:

  • Students are creating their own site, which is “transformation” on the scale of digital literacy.
  • You can organize it however you want, or allow students to organize their writing. This is a good opportunity for differentiation for higher level kids– offer optional structure guidelines or ideas for those who need more structure.
  • Students can have “free” pages for student creativity.
  • Students can find and post work from previous years and other classes.
  • Websites can be made invitation only, available only with the direct link, or public.
  • Students can include text, pictures, and potentially video.
  • Students can show growth by showing a first draft, either a digital draft or a snapshot of a handwritten one, and then a final draft.
  • Students can share their portfolios with other students for feedback or ideas.


  • I sent students to the “directions” website, had them read the directions and click through it individually/with whoever they were sitting with, and then answered questions. That was the only class time I spent on it– granted, it’s Journalism, so they are higher level kids, and it was the 3rd trimester.
  • The first day or two of work could be done in class together to deal with issues and problems. After that, posting work to the site can be independent homework, allowing students to use the library or a home computer.
  • The portfolio assignment, made on a website as an example, seemed to be really helpful to the kids– especially those who didn’t know where to begin or how it would look.
  • Students were able to do any page they wanted to first; it’s not a linear project. I think the Writing Autobiography was best done at the end of the year and upon reflection of all the other pages.
  • If kids post their portfolio link on edmodo, it’s a private link, and other students can access them for ideas and feedback.


  • On my portfolios, the only work that needed to be graded was the growth reflections on each piece. I was only reading about a paragraph of new information. I did not read all of the pages. I also only had one class to go through. I skimmed, but I looked at each page for each student and loved their “other writings” page and learned a lot about them from their optional additional pages. I graded only on completion and following directions. I did not have a rubric, though I plan to this year.
  • At the conference presentation I went to at CUE, the presenter discussed a peer rubric and feedback process. Each student was required to read two other students’ portfolios at various points throughout the duration of the (college) course and offer feedback to help make the portfolio better. At each review point, students were encouraged to do different students each time. The peer editor was given points for reviewing, which ultimately made their own pages better. His actual portfolio was graded only on completion and following directions; however, the peer editors followed a rubric and made comments on each page and reflection, design and content, so each page was explored carefully (and, I assume, revised and edited based on the feedback).

Some Portfolios from Last Year:





http://portfolioforrussell.weebly.com/skills.html  a good example of a less good portfolio


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