Making, Art(s) and Design Developing Portfolio Experiences

Our ongoing meeting of the Making, Art(s) and Design Inquiry Group took place this week, where we discussed connections across the MAD classes, continued our work linked to career pathways, and discussed how to design a Portfolio Experience for our students.

Sharing Critique Practices

The meeting opened up with a presentation from Ed Crandall, the 9th Grade Science & STEAM Elective Teacher. He has been implementing new Critique Protocols in his elective classes (in this case Robotics), and he wanted to share his experience, successes, and challenges with us. Ed has been adamant about using a “design process” throughout the whole class, including assessment and reviews. He invited his students to create their own rubric and to then grade themselves, encouraging them to develop collaborative and critiquing skills. The students reflected on their projects and graded their work on three different levels:

  • As individuals (they graded themselves)
  • Their group (2-3 people)
  • The class as a whole

The idea on Ed’s part was to have them develop a project as if they were a consulting company, placing them into a professional scenario. He found that effective critique happens when students are more motivated and committed to the work. Sharing a rubric in the beginning of a project supports students to meet the teacher’s expectations, but can also impede creativity and independent thinking, as they are guided by the written requirements. Ed found that allowing students to co-develop a rubric after the completion of the project, rather than before, and having them self and peer critique, is a meaningful way to discuss their own work and serves more as a strong reflection than an assessment.


Career Skills Trajectory Continuation

We then split up into three groups: Art, Music, and Making. Each group brainstormed how to organize skill progression, and how to design a lesson or project based on a certain skill.

The Making group, Ed (High School) and Amy (Middle School), discussed the challenges of designing a Portfolio end of term presentation. They worked backwards from the Graduate Profile to pinpoint expectations of students, and discussed the logistics of presenting to peers and faculty. These presentations are based on the ongoing Portfolio and Reflection work they have started through  Google Sites; students have been asked to create their own blog-style website with photos and reflection on projects they have completed in the Making classes. This prompt has been challenging to implement, as it is new both to students and teachers, but is extremely useful for end of quarter/trimester presentations, as well as end of year passage, and it can be applied to other core classes as well.

The goal is to be able to have students present one complete project for end of term. On the High school side in particular, we will have professionals critiquing student presentations. Around mid-November, we would like to invite a couple of art and design professionals to support the Making students with creating digital portfolios, and to share their work experiences.


Tuning Protocols

The last part of the Inquiry meeting was dedicated to sharing our group findings. As a whole, we found that it is important to foster collaboration across different classes: portfolio presentations can be used as a way to introduce core teachers to Making, Art and Design and for them to understand how to enact design processes in their classes. We also found that 8th graders and seniors can use presentations as a preparation for Passage and end of term work, or as a preparation for higher education.


Checking Out

As we approach the end of quarter, our faculty for Making, Art(s) and Design are becoming more confident with the process of Portfolio and Reflection, and they would like to share their successes with other core teachers from Lighthouse. They believe that the collaborative environment of the Inquiry group, along with the findings discussed above, can be carried out to their colleagues from different classes.



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.