Do you want to develop digital portfolios with your students? Join our book club!

The single most important thing you could do tomorrow for little to no money is have every student establish a digital portfolio where they collect their best work as evidence of their skills.

-Dr. Tony Wagner, Expert in Residence, Harvard University

Developing digital portfolios with your students can be a game-changing action in your classroom. Here are just a few of the benefits:

Not sure where to begin? Then join our July Book Club!


Here is how to get started:

  1. Purchase the book on Amazon (link), iBooks (link), or Nook (link). I am offering 10% off this month when purchased directly through me, if you don’t mind the brief lag in response and a PayPal request.
  2. Request access to our Google+ Community (link). This is where our conversations will be housed.
  3. Check out the dates below for a timeline of chapters to be read.

June 29 – July 3:   Chapter 1 – Purposes for Portfolios

July 6 – July 10:    Chapter 2 – Performance Portfolios

July 13- July 17:   Chapter 3 – Progress Portfolios

July 20 – July 24:  Chapter 4 – From Files to Footprints: Beyond Digital Student Portfolios

In August, we will keep the conversations going informally. It would be a good month to ask final questions and conclude our time together with a celebration of sorts.

What you can expect from me:

  • A thought-provoking question posted once a week day in our Google+ Community throughout the four weeks. Also expect possible follow up responses from distinguished members of our community and/or me.
  • Full access during these four weeks to me for questions and demonstrations you might request regarding digital tools, processes, and leadership strategies. I will include my personal phone number and offer Google+ Hangouts to chat in real time.
  • An update on what our school is implementing regarding digital portfolios, current tools of choice, and our school’s brand new process for helping students reflect on and respond to their important and lifeworthy work online.

Not bad, right? I am also willing to issue very formal (~ahem~) certificates of participation for this book club, assuming frequent and thoughtful activity in our Google+ Community. This documentation may be used toward professional hours/accreditation within your district or university. Please check with your supervisor before assuming anything.

In closing, I can confidently state that the teachers I’ve observed who have experienced the greatest growth in their students’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions are those that a) highlighted their students’ best work, b) provided time for them to reflect on their progress, and c) gave feedback on their current capacities and allowed for personal goal setting.

If these descriptors sounds like the teacher that you might want to be in 2015-2016, I highly encourage you to join us for our July 2015 book club. You won’t regret it.


Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

17 thoughts on “Do you want to develop digital portfolios with your students? Join our book club!”

  1. Hi Matt, I have been receiving your blogs for the past few months and I like reading your comments. I have enjoyed reading about the activities you do with your elementary students.

    I am a Spanish teacher for gr 10, 11 and 12 and I like the idea of having digital student portfolios. Our language department shares a chrome cart and the students log in to use the devices.

    Would your book club be beneficial for my High School Spanish language classroom? Would the shared devices that we use work since no data can be stored on them. What program would they use to gather information for the digital portfolio?

    Regards, Shireen Cotterall Vancouver, Canada


  2. Dear Matt,

    I’m a substitute teacher and am contemplating joining but don’t (won’t) have access to students who I’m responsible for reporting grades/assessment. I will also be teaching summer school and am wondering how much time I’d need to devote to this “new adventure”. Can you give me any suggestions, please. Margie


    1. Hi Margie. I am sometimes in your position, in that I also have filled in for teachers who had to leave early due to illness or a sick child. For me, Evernote has been a big help. I can take pictures, write feedback, and record students’ audio responses when I have had to fill in for a teacher. This gesture has always been appreciated by my faculty.


    1. Thank you Mandy. When set this club up, it did feel a little self-serving as people would have to buy the book, so your comments are very much appreciated. Looking forward to our conversations in July!


  3. I’ve bought the book, Matt, and requested to join the Google+ circle. I can’t wait! I have an alternative ed context, but I want to track and monitor student progress digitally this coming year and thought I might find useful application from the things you learned on your journey with your school. Thanks for hosting this!


    1. That sounds excellent Lee. Thank you for the purchase and for joining us (just approved you). I believe alternative education can partner very well with more authentic assessment processes such as digital portfolios for students.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds great Wendy. The conversations will be asynchronous – I’ll post a question in the G+ Community and people respond when they can – so you won’t be missing anything in real time. Safe travels!


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