Making, Art(s) & Design Portfolio Plan

Staff members from the Lighthouse Making, Art(s) and Design Inquiry Group met last week, led by our electives coordinator, Brianna Shahvar, to discuss integrating portfolios and documentation into each of our classes. The purpose of this process is to encourage students to document their own thinking, to look more closely at their projects and/or products, and to share their development with others from teachers to peers and beyond.

The group met in the Creativity Lab, and we were invited, under Amy Dobras’ instructions, to create some simple origami folds to create a box, all while introducing ourselves to our colleagues. We then discussed and revised our inquiry group’s norms and the common Habits Of Working and Learning (HOWL) for our classes, stressing the importance of social justice and correcting the patterns of inequity we find around us. We also spent some time reviewing our common Learning Targets, which are built on the National Core Arts Standards as well as a variety of more maker-centered frameworks. Prioritizing inclusiveness, sharing our strengths and faults (as individuals and as a system), giving students opportunities to develop agency, confidence and actively promoting clear career options are some steps towards these goals.

Portfolio work and documentation are vital in engaging and empowering students, who are supported to create a shared experience for their audiences, to organize their work from different subject areas, and to track progress toward the learning targets, as portfolio work is considered an ongoing assessment. Furthermore, ongoing reflections and documentation can tangibly demonstrate how the skills students are learning are used in different professions. Portfolio work this early on in students’ academic path can prove useful later on in college or in the work environment, contributing to their career-readiness. Our Career and College Counselor, Josh Weintraub, will be assisting us in this regard, providing career options and facilitating classroom meetings with artists, makers and designers.

As quoted from the AbD website:

“Portfolios provide a format for students to collect important work from each class for an entire year. The portfolio is designed to require the student to reflect, synthesize and make sense of their progress and growth.”


Brianna’s Portfolio Site

Students will follow one process for documentation: they will each create a Google Site during their first week of class, and will follow their teachers’ reflection template (which can be a Google template or custom-made by the teacher). One straightforward example of a reflection includes what the students have made/created/observed, how the process went, what they learned, what the outcome looked like, and what they would have done differently. This process is based on the work we did as part of the Agency by Design Oakland Fellowship last year. These entries will be created at least once a week, and can include writing, image files, sound recordings, and videos.

My own example of a portfolio site

We are hoping this process will feel accessible to students and teachers, as it is a different type of ongoing assessment format, and is in line with the common Making, Art, and Design Learning Targets. If done properly, simultaneously with coursework, it shouldn’t add a significant amount of time to either the teacher’s’ or student’s workload, and should facilitate reflection, grading, and coursework.


Maker Education Initiative – Open Portfolio Project

Anna Milada Grossi is currently an Americorps VISTA Project Coordinator, serving through MakerEd at Lighthouse Community Public School. She is assisting in the Making, Art, Design and Lighthouse Creativity Lab Programs.