noun_814667_C82606What role can portfolios play in a chemistry classroom?

The author of the amazing CHEMJUNGLE Youtube channel is just three floors away from me at an amazing school we share.  I finally got to catch up with her to talk about portfolios, reflection, and community.  This post is meant to help explore options for blossoming Chemists.  That’s where you come in, if you reader know of other great #ibchem teachers out there, please pass this on and ask them to recommend their own catalysts (see what I did there?).

First things first, let’s look at what other chemistry teachers do with portfolios as a platform and resource to curate thinking and compound learning:

Meet: Dr. Jay

aka @Doctor_Galactic

 Curator of .

His portfolio is rich with posts about Chemistry in the Kitchen like this one and a really great initiative to host a live Chemistry Journal on Twitter, check it out here.

MEET: Kaye Chem

aka @chemDrK

Here’s the link to her portfolio. Here’s one of my favorite of her posts on ‘Threshold Concepts,’ and also this post on her school’s Science Journal Club is worth the read.


If you are looking for a broader list of chemists on twitter, check out this resource via @sksilverman

What could we expect from student chemists in the making?

Let’s start with a grade 9 unit.  Here are the Essential Questions:

  1. Why is it necessary to use models to explain the structure of the atom?
  2. How can all matter be made up of so few elements?
  3. Why does Mendeleev’s periodic table prevail?
  4. How do you tell the difference between elements, compounds and mixtures?
  5. Why are chemical equations useful?
  6. What determines the way elements react?

Can we extend their learning and ask them to build community whilst practicing curation and creativity skills?

Here is a series of prompts meant to help students use a wide variety of portfolio post techniques:


Made with Padlet
Documenting our learning serves as a heutagogical tool. Capturing artifacts that demonstrate the process of learning as well as a product, need to be able to be stored, archived and displayed somewhere. Blogfolios give the self-directed learner a hub to document their learning and to make it visible for others. Where have they been? What steps did they take along the way? How are these learning artifacts connected with each other? Documentation OF learning can grown into documenting FOR learning and documenting AS learning, when strategically embedded into the learning process. (Read Silvia Toscano’s Full Post Here)


What could a Worldwide celebration of Chemistry look like?

What if students from around the world were asked to share a post inspired by Chemistry with one another?

Could we ask groups to rethink the way we organize the elements? Ala this example.

Could we ask students to reflect on the year in Chemistry news?

Could we ask students to document their process in designing innovative experiments like this one?

What if we asked students to make key concepts visible, like this example?

In this project we have combined interesting and striking photographs of familiar objects with representations of some of the molecules they contain, which contribute to their properties and uses. The photographs have usually been taken in a laboratory environment, allowing us to contrast everyday items with the utilitarian environment in which we “do” chemistry.

Calling all Chemists–please make suggestions in the comment section below: how would you harness portfolios to have a powerful reaction within their chemistry studies?