Drawing from the Well

Chapter One - Digging the Well
Lesson 3 - Organizing and Designing the Portfolios

Setting the Stage:

Portfolios are an excellent way for students to take pride in their work and for teachers to track student progress and achievement. Making the portfolio personal to the student also adds to the concept of ownership and pride. We suggest students build both a working portfolio for all ongoing work and an exhibition portfolio for final presentation.


Portfolio organization is critical for student success in projects such as Drawing from the Well. Teachers need to model organizational skills, setting and meeting expectations and holding students accountable for their own organization. This is also an opportunity to increase student thought and creativity through individualizing the portfolio cover, title page, section breaks and illustrations for the writing pieces.


  • The students will organize and maintain their work, materials and equipment.
  • The students will visually represent their personal answer to the essential question.
  • Students will understand the benefits of using drafts to create final products.

NM State Standards: Language Arts III-A (7-2 & 8-2)

Materials and Resources needed:
Permanent and labeled boxes, cartons, or cabinets to store student portfolios Portfolio Table of Contents posted for the students to readily access and refer to as they work

Guidelines for Working Portfolio to be posted and/or distributed:

  • Keep portfolios in the classroom (not taken home)
  • Store in alphabetical order; only the owner may access the portfolio (leave others' alone)
  • Label name on backbone of notebook
  • Keep in order at all times for checking and grading, have an up-to-date Table of Contents
  • Determine a labeling and numbering system for the work

Guidelines for Exhibition Portfolio:
Have students choose and refine favorite drafts from curriculum activities. These will include samples from writing exercises, research, interviews and oral presentation. (See Appendix/Samples and Activities)

A class period with possible homework.


  1. Present the guidelines for use and maintenance of the portfolios. Make sure students understand the guidelines. MAKE SURE STUDENTS UNDERSTAND THEY WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ORGANIZATION, NEATNESS AND COMPLETENESS. THE PORTFOLIOS WILL BE PART OF THEIR GRADE.
  2. Brainstorm with the students possible visual representations that answer the essential question. Have students create a front cover for their portfolio that visually answers their essential question. They can draw or create a collage. Remind them that the cover of their portfolio will be the first impression of their work.

The teacher can assess the cover page as completed or not. If students turn in a "five second wonder" with little thought or effort, they can be informed it is not acceptable and it must be done over for credit. Have the student set a reasonable deadline for completion. Encourage each student's individual creativity.

Students can now put their surveys and webs in their working portfolio. All of the upcoming writing exercises and rewrites will also be compiled in the working portfolios.