Why I Threw Away My Student Portfolios & What I Do Instead!

Throw away the stack of folders you have in a crate in the back of your room. Seriously, by the end of this post, you are never going to use folders or binders for student portfolios again! 

From March 2020 until now, teaching has changed to include more technology. Why not rid your classroom of another pile of stuff that can be moved to digital? I cannot wait to show you 5 tools you can use to have students display their work virtually so that you can get rid of that bulky student portfolios crate in the back of the room!

#1: Google Sites

You may have your own Google Site that you use for your classroom or as your own portfolio, so why not teach students about this awesome tool and let them showcase their work with it? If you are using Google Classroom, then this is your best option! 

What I love about Google Sites is the ability to drag and drop different features and layouts. It also integrates seamlessly with student work from their Google Drive. You can organize the site and have students add as many pages as they need. I suggest creating a template that you want them to mimic and then you’ll have to share it with your students. If you’re not sure how you want it to look, Google Site has premade templates that you can choose for your students!

Sharing a Google Site is quite different than sharing docs and slides. As with any new platform, I suggest familiarizing yourself with it before you venture into using it in your classroom. When you share the site with students, make sure you make it restricted to only your students, this way it’s not open to the public. I suggest walking them through making a copy in class this way students remember to do it and don’t edit the original template.

In order to get all the students’ Google Site URLs, I suggest making a Google Form to collect their links to a nice spreadsheet. If you want help with Google Forms, check out this blog post and mini-course I have available for you.

Like any platform, you’re going to need to explicitly show students how to use it. Grab my Google Site Guide for Students over at my TpT store!

I recommend Google Sites as an option for students in upper elementary school or older.

#2: Google Slides

Another one of my favorite Google apps is Google Slides. Students can insert a new page for each assignment you want them to put in the portfolio. It doesn’t have quite the same organizational capability as a Google Site would, however, you can use hyperlinks within the Google Slide to navigate it.

As with the Google Site, you’re going to want to create a sample for students to have as a guide. What’s great about Slides is that you can assign the template on Google Classroom and have it force copy to the students.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Slides in your classroom, check out my Google Slides Masterclass bundle here! 

Here is a template I would create for Google Slide student portfolios:

  1. Cover Slide: Student name, class, and other identifying information.
  2. Table of Contents: Hyperlink the text to each subject or assignment.
  3. Rest of slides: assignment with student self-assessment. 

Google Slides is a great option for students in upper elementary school or older.

#3: Flipgrid

If you don’t have many digital assignments for your students, then Flipgrid is where it’s at! Students can record a quick clip explaining their piece. You can put together a Mixtape for each student and that would be their video portfolio!

Since this is more teacher-directed, you can take the stress off of yourself by having students pick a certain number of projects or pieces that you want to be showcased.

Here is how I would use Flipgrid as student portfolios:

  1. Create a group for each class.
  2. Create a topic for each assignment you want students to reflect on and record a video about.
  3. Once a student records a video for each assignment, combine that student’s videos into a mixtape. 

This is definitely more work for you as a teacher, so if you teach middle school or above I don’t recommend this tool. Flipgrid is great you teach special populations or have fewer students. 

This would be a great portfolio option for English Language Learners to practice their English speaking skills or Students with Disabilities that struggle with writing and typing

#4: Google Drive 

If your school has a GSuite for EDU account, then you have access to this awesome option called Workspace. You can create a Shared Drive to organize your students’ work. To do this, head to your Google Drive link to your school’s Gmail account. From here, you’re going to look on the left side where it says “Shared Drives” and click it. Finally, you can create a shared drive for each of your students. When you share the drive with your students, make sure they have the ability to upload to the drive. You can choose which folders in the drive students have access to, this way they can’t delete each other’s things.

If privacy is a concern, another option would be to create individual folders on your drive and just share each folder with your students to upload their work. I’m a big fan of nesting folders in folders, so just like Google Sites and Slides, I suggest making a template and then copying it for as many kids as you have. 

If you don’t want to spend forever making folders in folders in folders you can do one of two things. One thing you could do is create a folder for each student and teach them how to nest the folders. OR you could download Alice Keeler’s add-on to copy folders! To learn more about that, click here

This is a bit more work on the front end but is a great option for teachers of lower grades since students only need to upload their work. 

#5: ClassDojo

Last, and certainly not least, we have the lovely ClassDojo. I’ve written a post about ClassDojo, which you can find here. It is an amazing tool for parent communication, and now you can see how to use it as a digital portfolio!

If you’re familiar with the app, you’ve seen the portfolio section. Did you know that if you have students use their own accounts on ClassDojo, then you can have them upload their work? This is a great option if you have students complete work on paper because they can just snap a photo and upload it. 

I recommend ClassDojo as a digital portfolio option for the younger grades. As students are working on a portfolio piece, you can walk around with your phone or tablet and snap photos of their progress and completed pieces. 


This blog post had quite a lot of information in it! Here are some quick links in case you missed them: 

These five digital alternatives for student portfolios are great to keep tabs on student work. My personal favorite is Google Sites, but I know it is a learning curve. Either way, when starting a new system with your students it is so important to teach it explicitly. I have a few blog posts sharing how I teach the tech explicitly, you can find those here.

If you want to venture into the Google Site world, I put together a student guide that you can find in my TpT store. I have a bundle of tech guides for students to help them navigate the digital world. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Enjoy!

-Alexandra

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Hi, I'm Alexandra!

I am a fourth-grade math teacher with a love of technology. I help upper elementary math teachers like YOU get organized digitally and engage students with digital tools. When I’m not teaching, you can find me taking long walks with my dog, Frannie!