Student Portfolios as Visual Organizers
for Journey North

1 period

11 x 17 inch paper (for the folder)
8.5 x 11 inch paper
2” wide clear packing tape

A new Journey North season brings lots of excitement. You gather information, send in field observations, study maps, calculate migration distances, and research topics of special interest. All these activities are rich learning experiences. The challenge is how to organize this vast amount information to show what you know. A creative project portfolio is one answer!

Easy-to-make Project Portfolios
Create a 9 X 12 project portfolio to collect, record, and display qualitative and quantitative observations, life cycle studies, weather information, maps, research findings, and more — all in one convenient, creative, easy-to-handle package. Start from day one of a new season of Journey North. At the end of the season, the portfolio showcases all the student's work. Or, gather all you have done and display it together in this showcase display!

"Shutter" fold student portfolio
Self-contained organizer makes a simple and complete display
Directions for Jacket and Component Pages
A. Begin with an 11 x 17 sheet of paper. This will be the portfolio jacket. First, make a “shutter”* fold:
  • Lay paper horizontally in front of you.
  • Bend the outer edges of the paper inward to ALMOST meet in the center; firmly press the folds. (It's helpful to leave a space of about 1/4-1/2 inch between the two halves to accommodate the expansion of the folder as materials are added.)

B. Next, build components to use as the project expands:

  • Fold and then cut sheets of paper for journal entries into halves and quarters.
  • Use glue sparingly. Even the youngest students can learn to add JUST A DOT of glue to hold pages in place.
  • Use clear 2-inch packing tape to reinforce important folds.

Technical Notes

  • Write journal entries on quarter-sized sheets of copy or notebook paper glued permanently to portfolio pages.
  • Glue in species life cycle information, migration maps, drawings, and diagrams.
  • Fold full-sized sheets into halves or quarters and glue them in on one side. These can be unfolded to present more detailed findings as more in-depth research is done.
  • Important concepts ("big ideas") can become the cover topics.
  • Inside sufaces of the side panels can be used for notes, drawings, or subtopics.
  • You can create a pocket for loose materials by taping or gluing an 8.5 x 11 sheet to 3 sides of the back of the portfolio and leaving the top edge open for access.

Gathering Portfolio Materials
The portfolio will hold your work throughout the season. Its contents will allow you to show your growth and understanding as the season unfolds. At the end, you will have all important work together and assessment will be simplified. (See Using Student Portfolios for Assessment.) Here are some of the things portfolios might include:

  • Journaling Questions and responses
  • Plans, notes, and data from research and experiments
  • Life cycle information, characteristics, and migration maps
  • Drawings, diagrams, charts, graphs, and analysis of data
  • Concept maps or KWL charts
  • Initial predictions and revised predictions along with explanations for revisions
  • Calculations and "worksheets"
Compact investigations unfold into more detailed findings—

Celebrate the Season’s Work
At the end of the Journey North season have a celebration. Display your portfolios and invite others to learn about your experience!

* "Shutter" fold term coined by Dinah Zike