New, SIMPLIFIED, Student Portfolio System (or "feeling the fear of not being 'innovative' enough this year")

New, SIMPLIFIED, Student Portfolio System (or "feeling the fear of not being 'innovative' enough this year")

In past years I always had students create either a blog or a website to publicly share their work and curate their progress. Click here for an example.

While I believe deeply in students archiving their work in a public space, after reading Show Your Work, an outstanding book by Austin Kleon, I began to put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to empower students to create beautiful space to showcase their work.

In short, I lost track of the pedagogy, in replace for aesthetics. It's not Austin's fault. It's mine. Please read his book, it's hecka inspiring.

I reflected on the lack of improved student metacognition despite my enhanced portfolio systems, and student comments such as "Do we have to do another portfolio post. I never look at it...".

I began to ask myself: What really actually works? (in my classroom, with MY students).

I remembered another comment from one student specifically: "Can we just put everything we did in this topic in a Google Slide presentation. It's SO much easier to include pictures and videos...".

[3 Ways to Simplify, Streamline, and Empower Your Lesson Design]

No way! Kleon calls us to share our work in a space we are proud of. Nobody is going to look at your Google Slides! Your work needs be in a beautiful website to be taken seriously!

Again, aesthetics before pedagogy. Not a good choice.

This year, I am putting down my tired attempts at doing what I think is the most "innovative" approach, and following my gut regarding what I feel and my students feel is the most impactful!

I am taking my students advice.

I created a Google Slide template for each unit, including spaces for students to link all of their major work (Labs, Case Studies, etc.) and a template for built in student reflection.

Click here to access the Google Slide portfolio template, and click here to access our class website which will house "view only" version os the portfolios.

Yes, not as beautiful as Weebly, SquareSpace, WIX, or even the NEW Google Sites. Ironically however, in just two days of class, I am already noticing a shift in student focus on the project at hand, and not where or how they report it.

cross posted at

Ramsey Musallam teaches science and robotics at Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa, California, with the aim of fostering inquiry-based learning environments fueled by student curiosity. He presents widely on sparking student curiosity and teaching with technology. Musallam is a Google Certified Teacher, a YouTube Star Teacher, and a Leading Edge Certified Teacher. Watch his TED talk here and read his blog at