Prepping for Prime Time

Teachers and students can benefit from electronic portfolios.

One surefire way to document your skills, abilities, and qualifications is to showcase them in an electronic portfolio. Electronic portfolios are useful for teachers contemplating career changes, pushing for promotions, or looking for job security, as well as for students who need an alternative measure of performance to traditional paper-and-pencil tests. The following Web sites will help you learn more about electronic portfolios, including what to include and why.

My Online Portfolio Adventure: In this guide to using everyday digital tools like Blogger, Microsoft Excel, and open source software, Dr. Helen C. Barrett provides helpful suggestions for creating electronic portfolios. You'll also want to read her article, "Create Your Own Electronic Portfolio: Using Off-the-Shelf Software to Showcase Your Own or Student Work."

Portfolio Assessment, Prince George's County Public Schools: If you're just starting out on the road to portfolio assessment, you'll appreciate this well-written introduction documenting how portfolios link assessment to instruction. You'll also find information about different types of portfolios, phases of portfolio development, portfolio submissions, and evaluating portfolio contents.

Tammy Worcester's Electronic Portfolios: This basic but highly informative introduction to electronic portfolios may be a bit dated, but Worcester's reasoning for incorporating portfolios in classroom activities hits the mark.

Assessment: Portfolio Assessment: At this miniportal to portfolios for authentic student assessment, you'll find several links to resources for creating and using portfolios to measure current work or student progress. Be sure to read Andrew Epstein's "Introduction to Portfolio Assessment," too.

Assessment: Creating Rubrics: Integrating digital portfolios into classroom curricula encourages students to self-assess and reflect on what they have learned. It also provides them with opportunities to showcase their accomplishments. Visit this site to explore a five-part series on creating and using evaluative rubrics that work for a variety of subjects.

MEHS Student Portfolios: Examples of student portfolios abound at the Mt. Edgecumbe High School (Sitka, Alaska) Web site. The teacher not only presents student work, he provides a template that students must follow for elements of good graphic design in portfolio creation. He also offers suggestions and publishing guidelines for what to include.

Sites like eZidia help educators looking for a career boost trumpet their accomplishments with an online portfolio.

eZediaQTI Sample Project: Student Portfolio: The gem at this site is a step-by-step lesson plan to help students create electronic career portfolios. Available as a downloadable PDF, it features guiding questions teachers can use to help students brainstorm important portfolio elements, stay organized as they work on their projects, and focus on multimedia elements like photos, movies, and sounds. Although the object is to have teachers use eZedia software to get the job done, the projects can be completed with any word processor.

iLife '06 Multimedia Tutorials: Creating Your Own Podcast: iLife '06 offers portfolio creation tools such as iMovie to produce the video clips that capture an oral presentation or performance, iTunes to manage the presentation's musical soundtrack, and GarageBand to create the podcast or audio blog. Find out just what you can do by working through Apple's own iLife tutorials.

Creating an Electronic Portfolio: Electronic teacher portfolios compile examples of best practice work for achievements both in and out of the classroom. At this site, teachers can work through Lisa Spence's portfolio design WebQuest to gather electronic portfolio materials. Spence provides examples of what other teachers have included, tools they have used, and a checklist of must-have portfolio components. You'll also want to visit the National Council for Professional Teaching Standards for help assembling and packing an electronic portfolio for shipment.

Carol S. Holzberg is an educational technology specialist in Greenfield, Mass.