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How to Organize Student Portfolios in the Classroom – 2022

Are you looking to learn more about student portfolios and perhaps begin implementing them in your classroom?  Did you already take the leap of faith and begin using them but haven’t found an organization tool you love?  Wherever you are on your student portfolio journey, know this… Student portfolios can seem like an incredibly overwhelming task, but if you use effective organization tools, it will become one of your favorite things you do in your classroom!  Even if you don’t do formal portfolios, it is important to keep a collection of all their published writing and such for open house and parent teacher or student led conferences. Read below to learn more!

Student portfolios are a great way to document student growth.

What is a Student Portfolio in Teaching?

A student portfolio is a purposeful collection of a student’s work. It is added to throughout the school year and shows students’ progress from the beginning of the year to the end. It can be used to evaluate their growth.

What Does a Student Portfolio Look Like?

A student portfolio can take many different forms. It can be as simple as a binder with work samples like writing samples and math projects. It can also look like a folder on your computer desktop that has pictures of students working on performance tasks and links to their Google Classroom submissions.

Why Teachers Should Use Student Portfolios

Below are 5 reasons why teachers should use student portfolios.

  1. It is a way to keep documentation to prove that student learning is taking place.
  2. Parents want to see what their children are learning about and doing.
  3. There is such negativity around test culture and portfolios are an opportunity to focus on authentic assessment of a child’s true skills, strengths, and abilities.
  4. The trend is shifting towards project-based learning, which allows students to feel pride in their accomplishments.
  5. It fosters a growth mindset.

What Should be in a Student Portfolio?

You can decide what will go in your students’ portfolios, but some ideas are writing assessments, performance tasks, pictures of students conducting science experiments, and student reflections.

How to Organize a Student Portfolio

Below are 5 organization systems you can use to organize your student portfolios.

1. Go Digital

Keep everything digital by creating a folder for each of your students on your computer and storing everything there.  I have really been including more digital documentation of my students which I’m really loving. Instead of holding on to a project or writing piece that includes artwork I will photograph the work or take a quick video of them sharing their project. I’ve really enjoyed sharing these on my Smartboard during conferences and the parent feedback has been amazing.

2. Utilize Boxes

I love the idea of just dropping the work in. Each student will have a box with his/her number on it.  I decorated the boxes to match my classroom and used student numbers so that I could reuse them each year. The boxes fit well on a top shelf in my classroom that isn’t easy to reach so the fact that I only add to them every other month or so makes them a good option for that space. I typically take them down and pass them out to the students. I then have kids pass out the work that will go inside. Each child puts his work into his own box and then I call them in number order to return the boxes to the shelf. I like these because they hold more than just flat 8.5 x 11 inch paper.

3. Use Traditional Binders

These will allow you to move things around and make a nice keepsake since everything is organized within. They can be costly if you replace them each year. If you decide to use binders I suggest putting them on your school supply list.

4. Set Up Folders

I’ve used folders in the past. They are a very cheap option.

5. Repurpose Pizza Boxes

You can usually get one or more local restaurants to donate them to the classroom. They are a good choice because they are free, stackable and oversized which is great for those larger art projects. The downside is they aren’t easy to get into, a large and not always easy to store and can be a bit of an eyesore.

How to Make a Student Portfolio

how to make a digital student portfolio
how to make a student portfolio
how to start a student portfolio





Student portfolios are a great way to document student growth.

 I have a row of magazine boxes on my top shelf that were previously used to house weekly reading resources from Treasures. I had reorganized my reading materials and was planning to repurpose the boxes to hold student work samples. This immediately caught my eye!

  • I love the use of ribbon. Such a fun touch!
  • It’s neat and organized, yet each box is different. I would have gone uniform, but these pics have inspired me to mix it up.
  • I’m a big fan of white font on black backgrounds.
  • I already have a project in mind for them, but wouldn’t this be a fabulous way to house your colored cardstock an construction paper?


I used to save all of the creative and awesome projects we did in class to showcase at open house. But then I became a parent and was let in on a little secret. Parents don’t want to see all the awesomeness in June. They want to see it throughout the year. Therefore as much as it pains me to part with the best of the best I try to let go of most of it once a month. Still there are things I do hold onto for conferences and open house.

There are lots of ways that teachers store these items.

Pizza boxes are a popular option. You can usually get one or more local restaurants to donate them to the classroom. They are a good choice because they are free, stackable and oversized which is great for those larger art projects. The downside is they aren’t easy to get into, a large and not always easy to store and can be a bit of an eyesore.

Some teachers use binders. These will allow you to move things around and make a nice keepsake since everything is organized within. They can be costly if you replace them each year. If you decide to use binders I suggest putting them on your school supply list. 


What I have found works best for me is a combination of open-top boxes and digital images. I decorated the boxes to match my classroom and used student numbers so that I could reuse them each year. The boxes fit well on a top shelf in my classroom that isn’t easy to reach so the fact that I only add to them every other month or so makes them a good option for that space. I typically take them down and pass them out to the students. I then have kids pass out the work that will go inside. Each child puts his work into his own box and then I call them in number order to return the boxes to the shelf. I like these because they hold more than just flat 8.5 x 11 inch paper.

I have really been including more digital documentation of my students which I’m really loving. Instead of holding on to a project or writing piece that includes artwork I will photograph the work or take a quick video of them sharing their project. I’ve really enjoyed sharing these on my Smartboard during conferences and the parent feedback has been amazing. I’m looking forward to further developing this process.

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