Student Portfolios as Visual Organizers
for Journey North

A new Journey North season brings lots of excitement. Students gather information, send in field observations, study maps, calculate migration distances and spend time researching topics of special interest. All of these activities promote rich learning experiences. The challenge is how to organize this vast amount information for project assessment. A creative project portfolio is one answer!
Easy-to-make Project Portfolios
This lesson shows how to create a 9 X 12 project portfolio where students can for collect, record and display qualitative and quantitative observations, life cycle studies, weather and mapping information and research findings—all in one convenient, creative, easy-to-handle package, and all beginning from Day 1 of a new season of Journey North.

A "shutter" fold student portfolio.


Self-contained organizer makes a simple and complete display.

The beauty of this student-made organizer is collection AND display of all Journey North materials in one place. Research notes, maps and reports from quarter-size sheets to full-size pages can be displayed permanently inside one folded portfolio that's kept at school. At the end of the season, all the student work is showcased in this final portfolio made from simple folds.
How to Make a Portfolio  


  • 11 x 17 inch paper (for the folder)
  • 8.5 x 11 inch paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • 2” wide clear packing tape
Compact investigations unfold into more detailed findings—

Directions for Jacket and Component Pages

A. Each student begins 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, show students how to build components to use as the project expands. Show them how to:

  • fold and then cut sheets of paper into halves and quarters. They can use some themselves, and also share with their neighbors; younger students may only need quarter sheets to answer a question or explain a concept.
  • use glue sparingly. Even the youngest students can learn to add JUST A DOT of glue to hold pages in place.
  • use tape to reinforce important folds or parts of their portfolios. Use clear 2-inch packing tape)

Try This!
Add a special page to the portfolio that "moves" to reflect a growing tulip plant. This simple cut-and-slide diagram doubles as a graph that records predictions and actual measurments of your tulip growth this spring.