Instructions and Tips for Student Portfolios
- Planning the Portfolio and Gathering Portfolio Ideas
- Creating the Portfolio Online
- Creating a Welcome Message
- Portfolio Product Ideas
- Integrity and Online Safety
- Portfolios and Job Search
- Print instructions as booklet [Word]
- Print Portfolio Item Information Sheet [Word]
- Print copy of online form [PDF]
The purpose of a portfolio is to help students to document their skills and achievements, to challenge students to create their best work, and to help students to reflect on what they have accomplished. The Online Skills Portfolio is an online portfolio that allows students to display a wide variety of products, including documents, presentations, spreadsheets, photos and artwork. For each portfolio product, students write a brief description and complete a skills checklist which helps students to reflect on each item.
Students create the portfolio online, using an online form to describe the project and to upload files for the portfolio. No HTML coding is needed.
This booklet provides instructions, guidelines and ideas for the portfolio. This information is also available online on the portfolio webpage.
The Skills Portfolio is found at http://www.skillslibrary.com/skillsportfolio.
It was created by Jennifer Leonard, The Skills Library, Inc. For technical assistance with the portfolio, students and teachers may contact
Jennifer Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Planning the Portfolio and Gathering Portfolio Items
Think about the projects and accomplishments that you would like to highlight in your portfolio. Think about projects you've completed in each of your classes, as well as projects you have done outside of school, through jobs or internships, community organizations, church/religious groups or on your own. For each project, identify one or more products that you can display in the portfolio. Products can include:
- Word documents
- Excel spreadsheets
- PowerPoint presentations
- Access databases
- Photos, graphics or scanned or photographed artwork (*.gif or *.jpg format)
- PDF files
- Short sound clips (*.wav or *.mid format)
- Links to webpages, including webpages you have created or webpages related to a school or community project you've worked on.
- Documents may include resumes, personal reflections, essays, reports, science fair projects, etc.
Look at the sample portfolio online for ideas. You’ll see a welcome message, welcome photo, and a table of contents. Click on some of the items in the table of contents to get ideas for your portfolio. This sample portfolio includes work by elementary, middle school, and high school students and adults, and some may give you ideas for your own portfolio even if they are created by someone younger or older than you. This booklet also provides a variety of portfolio product ideas.
Once you have some ideas, start gathering and creating materials for the portfolio. Keep a file folder of print materials and keep electronic products in your classroom computer folder. You can use the paper Portfolio Item Information Sheet [Word] to organize your materials as you work. This worksheet is useful for organizing your information before creating the online portfolio. This worksheet can also be used as a cover sheet for portfolio items in a print version of your portfolio.
As you start gathering and creating materials, try to keep files small, so that your portfolio will be easy to view at any connection speed. The portfolio has a maximum size limit for files, at about 2MB, but much smaller files are recommended. The portfolio program will let you know if the file is too large to upload.
Photos and other images should be sized using a drawing or photo editing software package. For a "welcome picture" a width of 200 to 400 pixels is ideal, and for other images, a width of about 500 pixels is ideal.
Creating the Portfolio Online
Once you have gathered some portfolio materials, you can start creating the portfolio online. Click the link for Student Access on the left side of the portfolio webpage. You will be given a password to sign in.
Click Create New Portfolio Item. Then you'll see an online form titled Create Portfolio Item - Step 1 - Describe the Project. Fill in the following information:
- Project Name. Choose a unique name for each item in your portfolio, such as "Science Fair Project: Photosynthesis" or "Excel Worksheet: Chemistry Formulas" or "Resume" or "Personal Reflection." This project name will appear in the table of contents.
- Project Date. Fill in the date that you completed the project. By default, today's date appears in this space, but you can change this date. Use standard date format, such as 3/31/2005.
- Your Name. Your name is filled in automatically, and you do not need to change it.
- Project Description. Write a description of the project. The description should be about one or two paragraphs long. If necessary, you can use this description to provide instructions to your reader about how to view the portfolio item. For example, you might want to tell readers to visit a particular website and then use the "BACK" button on their browser to come back to the portfolio. If you worked with other people on the project, use the project description to describe your role and the roles of others on the project.
- Skills Checklist. Check the skills that you used in this project. Check as many as apply for each project.
- Optional weblink. If you would like readers to view a webpage, type the link here. Type the full address, such as http://boston.k12.ma.us. You may also copy and paste a link from the address bar of the website into this box.
- Optional narrative. The next box on the form is for an optional longer narrative about your project. Type or paste the narrative in the box. This option was designed to help you display essays that are not in Word format (since you can copy and paste text from any format into this narrative box) or projects that have just a photo or other image and for which you would like room for a longer project description.
Once this form is complete, click the button to SUBMIT. You'll see a screen that confirms that your information is saved. Click on the button to proceed to Step 2.
In Step 2 you’ll see a form titled Step 2 – Attach a File. This form will help you to attach (upload) your file. Use the BROWSE button to find your file on your computer. Fill in the appropriate choice to indicate what type of file it is, such as *.doc for a Word document or *.jpg for a photo. Then click the button to SUBMIT.
Once you click SUBMIT, you'll see a screen that says "Save Portfolio Item - OK." Click the link to view the portfolio item screen. The portfolio item is displayed in an "inline frame" on the page. If the file is bigger than the frame, the scroll bars or page buttons within the frame will allow you or your readers to move through the file to see more.
Some types of files cannot be displayed in the frame, such as Access databases, sound/music clips or files that use software not available on your computer (or your reader's computer). For these projects, you should proceed to Step 2B to also upload a image (*.jpg or *.gif format) that will be displayed in the frame instead. The image may be a screen print from the database or media file or other image. Readers will be able to view your database or media file by clicking the link below the frame.
From the working portfolio table of contents, you can open and edit the portfolio item as needed and you can re-attach the file or attach a different file. The "working" portfolio table of contents also allows you to re-number the portfolio items, so that they appear in whatever order you choose. You must number the items in your portfolio if you want to use the "Go to Next Item" link at the top of the page.
Creating the Welcome Message
From the working table of contents, click the links to write a welcome message and attach a welcome photo. The welcome photo should be fairly small (about 200 to 400 pixels wide) and the welcome message should be about one paragraph. These will appear at the top of the table of contents of your portfolio.
How to display Access databases, sound/music files or other files that cannot be displayed in a frame
- Find an image that can accompany your project. For example, you can use the "Print Screen" button on your keyboard to create an image of a database screen. Open the database to a form, table, query or report that you'd like to display, maximize the window and click Prnt Scrn on your keyboard. Open any drawing program, such as Windows Paint, Microsoft PhotoDraw or PowerPoint and click Ctrl-V on your keyboard to paste the image. Save the file as a *.jpg image. Crop or resize the image if needed.
- In the online portfolio, in Step 1, fill in the project name, project date, skills checklist and project description. In the project description, write "Click the link below to view the database" or something similar.
- In Step 2, upload the database or media file.
- In Step 2B, upload the .jpg file.
Portfolio Product Ideas
Your portfolio should include information on school, community, individual, work and volunteer activities.
Many of your projects will already be in electronic format; such as a resume or personal reflection in Microsoft Word format, a PowerPoint presentation that you created for a science project or an Access database or Excel spreadsheet that you created in your technology class. Other items, such as a job description or short handwritten report can be easily typed or re-typed using Microsoft Word.
For other projects, you may not have any electronic products. In some cases, you might just write a narrative describing the project and perhaps include an appropriate clipart image or photo in your portfolio. In other cases, you may want to create an electronic product especially for the portfolio. Here are some ideas.
Use digital photography. Take digital photos of artwork, science projects, performances, community events or sports events.
Scan artwork or photos. Use a scanner to scan some of your artwork or photos. Use a drawing program or photo editing software package to adjust the file size and image size so that the file will fit in the portfolio. (Comment: scanning is not as suitable for text or handwritten material, since it is hard to get a clearly readable product with a reasonable file size.)
Create a spreadsheet. Use Excel or another spreadsheet program to create a spreadsheet based on something you have studied or worked on. For example, if you are studying nutrition, you could create a spreadsheet that shows the nutritional content of various menus. If you are studying physics, you could create a spreadsheet that uses the formulas for gravity and acceleration. If you are a member of sports team, you could create a spreadsheet showing statistics for your team.
Create a database. Use Access or another database program to create a database based on something you have studied or worked on. For example, if you are studying nutrition, you could create a database of nutritional information. If you are studying geography, you could create a database of statistics about selected countries. If you are studying history, you could create a database of historic dates or a database of profiles of famous people. If you are studying Spanish, you could use a database to create a mini Spanish-English dictionary.
Create a presentation. Use PowerPoint or another presentation software to create a presentation based on something you have studied or worked on. For example, if you helped to organize a community, church or school event, you could create a PowerPoint presentation about the event. You could use PowerPoint to illustrate a math or science concept. For example, a PowerPoint presentation could guide viewers through a geometry problem or proof using graphs or simple drawings.
Use a drawing program. Consider using a drawing program to create original artwork, charts or diagrams to illustrate a project. Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Microsoft PhotoDraw and others allow you to use the mouse or a tablet to draw and edit images. And although PowerPoint is not a formal drawing program, the AutoShapes feature allows you to create simple drawings and diagrams.
Use music notation software. Consider downloading a free trial of music notation software and consider purchasing the software if you like it. For example, Noteworthy Composer™, Melody Assistant™ or Music MasterWorks™ allow you to compose, print and play music. You can export the music to a *.mid file, suitable for the portfolio, and you can save the score as a *.jpg file, also suitable for the portfolio.
Use computerized career exploration tools. Use a variety of computerized career exploration tools to explore your personal career interests and learn about career opportunities and include information from your exploration in your portfolio. For example, the MassCIS system, which is available free to Massachusetts residents through the Massachusetts Division of Career Services (DCS), provides career interest assessment and career information. Visit http://www.detma.org/MassCIS to find MassCIS. Use Microsoft Word or other software to type a summary of what you’ve learned from your career search and keep it in your portfolio. If you copy and paste information from any computerized source, be sure to use an appropriate citation.
Explore your employer’s or community organization’s website. If you have a job or internship or if you volunteer with a community organization, explore the employer’s or community organization’s website to learn more about the mission and work of the company or organization. Include a link to the website in your portfolio, along with a description of your job, internship or volunteer work.
Integrity and Online Safety
Because this is an online portfolio, please carefully observe the following integrity and online safety guidelines. If you have materials that might not be suitable for the online portfolio, you can include these in your print portfolio but please omit from the online portfolio. Note that some of these guidelines are stricter than the guidelines provided by other websites, but are appropriate because it is a school-sponsored online portfolio.
- All materials – including language, content and images – must be suitable for all audiences, including young children who may view the portfolios.
- Please do not include negative or damaging comments about employers, teachers, community leaders or other individuals in your portfolio.
- Do not include personal contact information, including phone numbers or addresses. If you want to include an email address on your resume for potential employers to contact you, you may do so, but if are under 18, please obtain your parent or guardian’s permission. When you post your resume in the portfolio, you should include just your name, the name of your school and, with your parent or guardian’s permission, your email address.
- Don’t include any personal information about yourself or others in a database or other portfolio product. Remember that users can download files from the web, so they could download a copy of your database.
In any portfolio – whether print or online – it is also important to follow guidelines of academic integrity. Please carefully cite any print or online source materials that you use. Please acknowledge the role of other people in any of your projects and explain your role if you were a member of a team. Today’s workplace requires collaboration and teamwork, and so readers will be interested in seeing how you were able to work with others to complete projects.
Portfolios and Job Search
If you would like potential employers to view your portfolio, you may direct them to the Skills Portfolio home page and ask them to select your name from the dropdown list or you may give them a direct link to your portfolio table of contents.
Portfolios will remain online for approximately 16 months after your graduation, until the September one year after your graduation. If you would like the portfolio removed sooner or kept online longer, please contact Jennifer Leonard at SkillsLibr@aol.com. Once you graduate, you and others will be able to view your portfolio but, because of space limitations, you will not be able to add additional portfolio items. However, if you are using the portfolio for job search purposes during the year after your graduation, you may email an updated resume to SkillsLibr@aol.com for posting.