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courses at Drake University. There was a great deal of flexibility in some of the writing assignments, however a few were very rigid. I do not feel that either type of writing assignment (rigid or loose) would change the poetics of my writing very much, to be honest. There may be some differences in terms of the creativity, however, the poetics and writing techniques would be similar. Each of these technics and poetic elements can be traced to my ESL education background, too. This review will first tie the reviews of my two peers to this ESL background. After this, my writing will be compared to other writers. To wrap this piece up, the themes and qualities that are discussed in my writing will be tied to my ESL background in a research section tying best teaching methods in terms of second language equitation for English and a Second Language students and the poetic devices in my writing. Peer Analysis of Writing Portfolio As you look at the writing in my portfolio, there are some obvious poetic elements that are present, as pointed out by the two students who analyzed the pieces included in the portfolio. Eugene states in his review, “the selection of these kinds of essays implies that you were more likely to step away from creative focus and primarily function on explaining a theory or opinion.” This is an overarching theme that will be discussed throughout this portfolio review. My education background, as an ELL (English as a Second Language) endorsed teacher, provides me with teaching methods for teaching non-native English speakers skills and tools to develop and speed up their English language acquisition. Some of the key elements of second language acquisition (ELA) are repetition, explanation and a clear, concise written style. An upcoming portion of this paper will be discussing the poetics of my writing in terms of second language acquisition instructional methods and the elements of my writing. Eugene continues to say in the review, “repetition and revisiting points becomes a trend, often in summary at the end of an extensive group of catalysts for your message.” The review moves on to say that this is not completely necessary, as the points in the paper are not “overtly complicated”. This, as stated above, is something that is commonly done in my papers, and I will be relating this to my future career as an ELL teacher. As states earlier, repetition is one of the keys for second language acquisition, and I will relate this aspect of my writing to this skill in the ELL section of this paper. Furthermore, Kat describes the writing in the portfolio as direct and simple, without an overabundance
of unnecessarily complicated words and themes. These styles are very evident in all of the pieces in my portfolio. According to the reviews, the style of the writing caused me to vary the structure of my sentences. Eugene wrote the following regarding my varying sentence structures: “Perhaps the most formal way that you make work in increasing the length of an essay is the length of your sentences. In your essays the sentences are broken up with commas and side points (or as previously noted filler words) that don’t work in the same way that the shorter more concise paragraphs of the fiction you submitted do. In the essays of your opinion, or self-evaluation, I find you were more concise in your points than the other essays, but the fiction was the most concise.” This varying structure length can be related to the type of writing I was attempting to do. The fewer restraints I was under (in terms of the assignment the paper was for), the more concise, and possibly creatively written my sentences were. Therefore, the more rigid assignments that a few of these essays were attempted for, the longer and less “creative” the sentences involved came. My primary focus was more on completing the task at hand compared to focusing on the specific words and sentences that I was writing. Eugene continues by stating that my “idea of fiction is more poetic and finite than that of your essay writing”. He gives two examples to back up this claim, which I completely agree with. The first sentence, from one of my non-fiction theory essays reads, “however, it is argued that they all stem from part of her, and were done with clear intentions by her.” Now, when you compare this to a sentence from my fiction writing, “The bust stops. No one gets off but everyone at the stop piles on,” it is clear as to why Eugene has come to this conclusion regarding the vast differences between my nonfiction and fiction writing. The reason for this, again, will be explained in my connection with my ELL background. Kat continues to state the interesting aspect of the writing samples in the portfolio are the use of genres. This ties together with that Eugene stated in the differences between my non-fiction and fiction writing. She brings out the point that the voice is one of the more important aspects, to me, in terms of writing no matter the style. This, I feel, is why repetition has become
Writing Portfolio in Connection to Class Readings
I think it is clear to say that the bigger picture of my writing is more deliberate than the specific words chosen. This to me is the way that I see Frederick Douglass's writing. It is more about what can be accomplished with his writing instead of using creative methods to accomplish his goal. For example, his writing is very direct and deliberate and he lets his readers know where he is going with his writing and what his purpose and goals are. In his writing The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass he writes, "I now come to that part of my life during which I planned, and finally succeeded in making, my escape from slavery" (81). This is how Douglass opens chapter 9 of this piece. Although it is not the most creative, interesting and moving sentence, it gets the point across and it lets the reader know exactly where Douglass is going with this chapter. This is the goal of my writing, as well. Furthermore, if we tie this to the significant impact of ESL education, this is what words the most effectively, in terms of writing, with ESL students. The less verbose that an author's writing is, the easier it is for the ESL student to understand. This, again, does not mean that the language demands of the writing must be lowered, however, the writing needs to be written in clear, concise language. This is precisely how Douglass writes, and this method relates to my form of writing, too, as mentioned above numerous times. Furthermore, Douglass is very methodical in his writing. As quoted above, Douglass starts with stating his purpose for the writing in the very beginning. Logically, next he states his reasoning for this purpose. Later on, in the same opening paragraph as the previous quote, Douglass goes on to state his purpose. "My reasons for pursuing this course may be understood from the following: first, were I to give a minute statement of all the facts, it is not only possible, but quite probable, that others would thereby be involved in the most embarrassing difficulties. Secondly, such a statement would most undoubtedly induce greater vigilance on the part of the slaveholders than has existed heretofore among them;" (81). This shows how methodical Fredrick's writing is. This clearly relates to my writings very closely, as the examples in my portfolio are very direct. If one is to look at the other writer's whose pieces we read during this semester, it is easy to say that there are many that differ greatly from my own writing style. One might say that this is a strange choice, but I would have to say that Calvino's writing is far different than my own. Yes, the pieces by Calvino, in particular, Lightness, do start off with very direct statements, however, it is where Calvino goes after these direct statements that makes the writing far different than mine. Calvino starts off Lightness with a very direct statement. "I will devote my first lecture to the opposition between lightness and weight, and will uphold the values of lightness. This does not mean that I consider the virtues of weight an less compelling, but simply that I have more to say about lightness." One
might think that this sounds similar in structure to the work previously cited by Douglass and by my writing examples included in this portfolio. If we were to stop reading here, it would be a correct statement. However, as we continue reading, we will see that Calvino's writing continues on a path that is far different from the writing style and methods of my own. It is clear that Calvino means much more by the words that he uses, and that these words are metaphors and have a much deeper meaning than just those of the words on the page. This change in writing style and word choice happens with the next sentences of Lightness. "After forty years of writing fiction, after exploring various roads and making diverse experiments, the time has come for me to look for an overall definition of my work. I would suggest this: my working method has mow often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes form the people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language." This starts example shows how there are some aspects of Calvino's writing that are similar to mine, for example, when he states the purpose, however, he then takes a completely different approach when he starts using weight as having multiple meanings. The fact that Calvino's work starts off with such a similar structure as both Douglass' writing and my own, but takes a completely different approach with the similar start, makes me more willing to argue that his style and poetics of his writing is very different from mine. He takes a similar start, and uses this start to achieve very different methods and goals with his writing. This does not align with my writing style, and with the ESL learning style, as it is not straight forward and direct. This style of writing, in my opinion, clouds the true meaning and is excessively verbose. This additional work and effort by the writer makes the intentions of his writing and the ways that he attempts to accomplish these intentions rather clouded. This is why I feel that my writing style clashes with Calvino's the most, as it starts with a similar concept but strays off the path of my writing style very quickly. Writing Portfolio as Compared to ELL Background According to Dr. Shelley Fairbairn, “academic language proficiency includes vocabulary, grammar, language functions, and discourse structures needed for classroom learning. We also recognize that these aspects of language are best taught in the context of meaningful communication” (49). This is where the elements of my writing discussed in the first section of this paper come into play. The first point, made by Eugene, regarding the purpose of my writing being more explanation pieces rather than creative writing, fits
into the mold of second language acquisition (ELA) for my ELL students. With bilingual students, “content learned through the use of the students target language also developed and showed in the students L1 language” (Castanello and Diaz, 50). This connects to the fact that the writing is very direct, and not in a creative form, as this is more difficult for students to translate into their L1, or native language. This is where the writing connection made with Douglass comes into play, as well. His writing, as mentioned earlier, does a very good job of giving direct reasons, purpose and intentions of the writer. Although the language demands are not lessened as he uses a rigorous vocabulary within his writing, it is very clearly and concisely written. This makes the reading much more obtainable for an ELL student, and helps to lower the burden of attempting to comprehend what Douglass is stating. This is the goal of my writing as well. The repetition of my writing, which was also addressed by my peer's evaluation of my writing, makes it easier for ESL students to pick out the most important aspects, as this is difficult for them to do in their non-native language. Although Douglass' writing was not repetitive, I still have a tendency of repeating important facts, information and comparisons numerous times. There are multiple reasons for this. In terms of my writing, it helps me to make sure that each of my arguments are relating back to the main point of the writing. Furthermore, it helps me to make sure that the reader will thoroughly understand what my intentions are. This goes hand-in-hand with education, especially ELL education. The more clear and concise (and transparent) the communication between the teacher and student (or for this example, the writer and the reader) is, the more effectively the student will be able to interpret, understand and analyze the information being presented. This repetition within my writing, is my attempt at lessoning the language demands of my writing (for the reader) without lowering the content demands (or, in non-education terms, "dumbing down the material"), so students are more easily able to interpret the information and engage in higher-ordered thinking activities of analyzing and processing the information. Thoughts on the Writing Process as a Whole The thought of what makes good writing is still very puzzling to me, as a writer. How can one evaluate what good writing really is? To me, for something to be considered good writing, there must be clear intentions (a goal that the writer has for writing this piece) and the intentions, or goal, must be met. If this criteria is met, then the writing is good, in terms of meeting its goal. The goal can be a seemingly simple task: to inspire, engage, inform, etc, however the goal must be met, through the eyes of the individual reader, for the writing to be considered good. For example, one of my favorite essays
that I like to share with students is "Shitty First Drafts" by Anne Lamott. In this piece, her goal is to inform the reader that first drafts should not be disregarded, as it is more about the thought process than the writing process. I'll admit, this is not the most wellwritten piece that Lamott has every published. However, I think that this is her most successful piece. I say this because her goal, which is to convince the reader to see the great value within writing first drafts, is so clearly met. There is no way that this essay could not at least make a reader consider any potential value of first drafts. Therefore, because her goal is met so well, I would argue that this is one of her best pieces of writing. To me, this is what writing is all about. This goal of writing is what I also seek to accomplish. Since this portfolio is made up of academic pieces, the goal of the each piece is very clear. I do believe that the goal of each piece was met, thus I would consider this writing to be good. If I were given the option to revise or redo any of these papers, I believe I would keep these papers for the most part the same. I think that the structure of these papers work, however, I would do some micro-editing to improve some smaller things such as word choices and sentence structures. These are things that I always do after I am done writing, and I feel that I do not do it enough. These small micro-editing tools, however, do not help make the writing better, in terms of achieving the goal, but they help make the paper more enjoyable for the those reading the piece. Now that the quality of good writing has been discussed, the issue of writing structure must be addressed. I believe that the writing in this portfolio, and my writing as a whole, can be described as much more analytical than anything else. I say this because there is a clear purpose and goal and the writing is methodical in terms of accomplishing these. This is easy to say, seeing the portfolio, given that the pieces were all for school, specifically English courses. However, in other writing I have done, the same process is used; thus my writing is analytical.
Works Cited Castanello, Jamie. Diaz, Eva. Reaching New Horizons: Gifted and Talented Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Alyn and Bacon publishing. Fairbairn, Shelley, et. al. Differentiating Instruction and Assessment for English Language Learners: A Guide for K-12 Teachers.
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