1 Michelle Hovey Suzanne Ingram ENGL 1103-029 12/2/12

Portfolio Essay

Welcome to my portfolio. This website is a collection of the papers and assignments that have most contributed to my learning throughout the semester. Some works demonstrate my growth as a writer, some showcase my improvement as a reader and responder, and some were brand new writing experiences for me. I will explain in detail every piece I have chosen; identifying assignments that have been extra challenging for me, describing why they were challenging, and detailing my approach to overcome those challenges. I will also look at some assignments that display my evolution and emerging strengths as a writer. I have been actively engaged in this course for the entire semester, and I will provide evidence I have come out a much-improved writer. I will also give a self-evaluation, presenting evidence and arguing for the letter grade I feel I deserve. If I had to say what this English class has done the most for me, it would be provided a means of growth as a writer. There are so many great examples of how

2 my writing has progressed throughout this semester. With all the assignments broken up into multiple drafts along with secondary material providing extra knowledge, I had plenty of opportunities and resources to aid me in achieving a higher standard of writing. The first of the smaller works I included is from the first day of class. We were given a prompt to share information about ourselves as an introduction. The assignment was to allow the teacher to ascertain the student’s proficiency as a writer, and to allow the student a chance to share details about themself. I wanted to include this piece because I believe it gives an accurate depiction of where I started in this course. In this introductory assignment, I communicated a previous writing assignment I was proud of, what my feelings towards writing were, and my intent and expectations for the class. I was willing to learn and grow, but was not very confident in my writing. I believe it is important to show this work to give my portfolio a sense of beginning. This essay is in a way a final follow up from this first piece. The first big assignment was “What’s It Like To Be You” essay (WILTBY). Not only was it the first big assignment of the semester, but it was also my first collegiate paper. It was intimidating to say the least. Not fully understanding the teacher’s expectations or my own abilities was a scary thing. The paper also was required to be hand written, another disconcerting aspect of this assignment considering all my previous experiences with essays were written on the computer.

3 The assignment was to define yourself: Who are you and what has made you you today? There was not much instruction given on the format of the paper or what specific content was required. Part of the purpose of the assignment was to leave these aspects up to the writer as a way of self-expression. For me, this was rather frustrating. I am a very structured person. I like step-by-step instructions on how to get to a finished product. This is one of the main reasons writing does not come very naturally to me, because writing is a skill defined by its capacity for individualism and freedom of expression. Also, writing is a continuous process always with the possibility for improvement. This goes against my own tendency to strive for a predetermined perfection and mark it as complete when I’ve done so. With all that said, it’s no surprise this first essay was challenging for me. As I discussed in my cover letter for this assignment, I had difficulty expressing myself. I was merely stating my past and the importance of events, but never really describing why they defined or shaped me. All the feedback from the first draft essay was pretty much the same: express yourself more. I understood the problem, but I had no idea how to fix it. As I sat there staring at the paper, I tried to think of ways I could express myself. I thought back to the first few classes all about inquiry. I began to ask myself probing questions about the situations I was describing in my paper and it really helped me add more personal depth to my paper. My first draft of the WILBY essay along with the final are included to illustrate my growth from the beginning of the assignment to the final product. The first draft, my first attempt at a collegiate paper, comes across as cold and

4 impersonal. In my 3rd draft and final draft, the content is more personal and indepth. The reader can, I believe, connect with me much better. Although this final draft is a vast improvement over the first, they are both still a little rough around the edges, because they are among the earliest papers during the semester. A paper that certainly stretched my limitations as a writer was the Whole Life Concepts Paper (WLP) for my ENGR 1201 class. Just looking at the assignment requirements was intimidating and overwhelming. The main requirement was to write all about yourself. You had to define and explain your passion, including what and who were the key factors in this decision and how they affected your life and made you stronger. Also, you had to describe how you had an impact with your passion in three different areas and then three global issues that you could impact with your passion. The paper was to be 3-5 pages, single-spaced, ten-point font, oneinch margins, and no paragraph indentations. This paper was very daunting to me. I didn’t know where to begin. I wasn’t really sure about any prominent passion of mine, except for an almost obsessive love for volleyball. But, how does volleyball impact people? How could it ever affect the world in a global issue? As a freshman, I couldn’t see how I was supposed to have a clear enough view of my passion to determine its possible effects on the community. I thought college was the place to discover and explore my passion. Nevertheless, I had to write on something, so I chose to write the paper on the only passion I was sure I had: my passion for volleyball. I also chose to mention my emerging passion for Engineering.

5 I applied the same inquisitive process that we had been using in English to my WLP. The paper was a huge effort and took a lot of work to complete. But, after I got through it nothing else has seemed as overwhelming. It was the hardest paper of this semester and once completed, I had a sense of accomplishment and felt more confident I could combat any paper that was thrown at me. The cover letter and first draft of my three-sided assignment also benefited in my growth. The three-sided was a kind of precursor to the argumentative research paper. The paper presented the different groups and their views towards the subject issue. This assignment required some research in order to give each group its own voice and provide credible evidence to support its view. The cover letter was beneficial to me. It made me analyze how objective I was. I stated which areas of the paper were strong and weak. The letter was a good source to reference when I was writing my second draft. Some of my corrections included adding more information to weaker and less supported arguments and views. I could just look at these comments I made to myself and easily identify the parts I needed to improve on and make stronger. Up to this point, there had been a lot of inquisition and investigation. Now, with the investigating almost finished, came the start of compiling this information in the three-sided assignment. All the hard work researching was finally formulated into an important issue. This assignment gathered all the facts and speculation together and laid them all out together. It helped me learn how to process information and present it in a formal way.

6 Next it was time for the biggest assignment, the one all the others had been preparing for, the argumentative research paper. Taking all the previous works as guides and aids, this assignment allowed for an opinion and eventually an argument to be formed and then translated on to paper. The purpose was to inform and convince your audience to your side of the issue. I researched whether or not sunscreen is useful and beneficial. This assignment required extensive research and required entering into the current academic conversation going on in the media. I chose the research paper’s cover letter because it helped me recognize areas in need of improvement and was a good reference for later drafts. Answering the questions in the cover letter prompt really allowed me to organize my content and look at the layout of my paper. I identified my audience and my lack of voice. I realized my paper had many imperfections and had to face the fact that the paper was far from finished and needed much improvement. The first draft of my research paper accurately depicts my style of writing. It is filled with facts and a little disorganized. I find it easiest to write factual pieces and I like being thorough. So, this first draft was just throwing all the research that I had learned on paper without much form or structure. As I hit on in my cover letter, I think all the required factual research is there in my first draft, but it is in my final where I added my voice and a sense of urgency, the argument. I even gave a reference to my own experiences to appeal to pathos. I believe all these additions make my paper persuasive and relevant. The differences in these two drafts are crucial in showing growth in my writing process.

7 In addition to enabling tremendous growth in my writing skills, 1103 has also exposed me to numerous new ideas, processes, and forms of writing. It has opened my eyes to the wide range of styles there are in writing. There are many factors to consider when writing any kind of documentation. A paper could be perfectly logical and structured, but mean nothing to a certain audience. Obviously, a person cannot write a book intended for children at the reading level of an adult, the meaning would be totally lost. It is very important to understand what and to whom you are writing as well as the seriousness of the work. When David, the author of Peace Butter & Jelly, presented to the class, part of his visit was for the class to write our own poems. This was after he had the whole class meditate by closing our eyes and clearing everything from our minds. Then, once our minds were clear, we were told to think of what defined us, open our eyes, and write down whatever came to us. I do not think my poem is some of my best writing, but I felt like I should include it on my portfolio, because the experience was new to me. I was exposed to new ideas and processes when writing this poem. Not only had I never written a poem, but also the way in which we approached it was a new experience. I was out of my comfort zone, but to improve on something that is often necessary. So, although this poem may not be a stellar first attempt, it was an attempt. It is part of my learning process from this semester, and therefore worth including. Another new experience was writing a book blurb for David’s book. We were to write a synopsis or premise of the book that would entice the viewer to buy and

8 read the entire book. This assignment was a different style of writing than most done in the class. We were to grab the reader’s attention and leave them wanting more in very few words. It was an enjoyable assignment that let the class show its more creative side. I liked using phrases like “be prepared to be taken on a mystic ride” and “join him on his adventure to find peace”. The creativity involved in this activity was unique compared to all other wring assignments in this class, and it used different style of writing. As opposed to the many serious factual works that we did to prepare ourselves for the research paper, this assignment was a nice change of pace that allowed for some colorful and vibrant language. It contrasts, but compliments, the heavier works and papers we have done and it gives a good picture of the broadness of writing genres covered in the class. Blogging. How fun. The more I used it, the more it came naturally and easy to just spill out ideas and reflections. I had never used blogs before, but I found it to be almost calming in a way. It allowed me to causally express what I was working on and needed to do. It was kind of a checklist of my progress. Blogger was probably the most surprisingly useful and easy tool for me to use. Something about the program made me write without having to worry about the word count. I often went way over the required count, just because of the ease with which I was writing.

9 Reading and responding to other classmates’ papers was so useful and such a big concept and skill to acquire I thought it should have its own section. It was also a new experience, but one that was continually improved upon throughout the semester. The Richard Straub essay on responding was my introduction to the concept of peer workshopping. Straub’s essay was very beneficial in teaching me how to be a good reader and responder. In my English classes in high school, I never had anything to do with a peer’s paper except to occasionally listen to the final product. So, work shopping with fellow student’s papers was an entirely new concept. The information in Straub’s essay helped me understand the peer workshop process. Its many detailed examples gave me confidence I could be helpful to my peers. The advice given under the How Do You Get Started? heading was useful when I read my peer’s papers. I evaluated their papers more effectively since I knew what I was looking for. I used the steps detailed in this section to determine the writer’s intent and aim behind the paper. Also, the essay taught me that the type of comments I write are dependent on whether it was a first draft or second draft. In the earlier drafts, the content is more important than the grammatical aspect of the paper. The comments should probably be more inquisitive in the first draft than subsequent ones. Along with a paper I included from this class that I had commented on, a paper that Straub’s essay affected was a friend of mine’s music essay. He asked if I could take a look at his first draft and make some comments. With a few peer

10 workshops already under my belt, I felt capable of doing so. My review of his paper is good example of my emerging skill of reader responding. I asked my friend lots of inquisitive questions that left a lot of room for him to elaborate and expound on his topic. I gave an example that I had used in a similar paper to give him an additional idea to talk about. My work on his paper shows how far I’ve come in responding. I am comfortable doing it and now find it enjoyable and rewarding to help someone refine and improve his or her writing. After completing all the papers and assignments throughout this semester, I have definitely improved as a writer. I am no longer paralyzed every time I see a blank piece of paper. Although I may never say writing is my favorite thing to do, I can now write a clear and effective paper without too much difficulty. I have much more confidence in my writing after this semester, and can evaluate my own work as well as other’s work. Coming into college, I was very hesitant and shaky in my writing. But, I came to college to learn and although I have always been one to gripe about general education classes and their unimportance, I truly believe I would not have been as successful this semester without this class. I see the importance of this class and it has certainly helped me become more solid and confident in my writing. I even have had teachers in my other classes compliment me on my writing. For a person who has always had a mental block when it comes to “writing”, these remarks are such an encouragement and motivation. It is very gratifying to know that others can see the improvements in my writing and all the hard work that I put into my papers.

11 I believe I have earned an A in this course. I have always been engaged in this course, taking every assignment seriously. I have read and listened to all the comments my teacher and peers have provided on my papers. I incorporated their comments in my writing to the best of my ability. I have truly grown throughout the semester, which is evident looking through my works and the differences between drafts. I always came to class with the pre-class readings read and assignments finished. I am also among those with perfect attendance. I was engaged in all our group activities and work shopping, and was helpful to my peers when work shopping. I even enjoyed myself in this class, which is something I thought I would never say about an English class. This is due to the good formatting of the course that allowed a natural progression of assignments, the excellent teaching that encouraged an open and friendly atmosphere, and awesome peers that could relate to me and give constructive feedback. My work throughout this semester shows remarkable progression and improvement to where my papers are now informative, instructive, and insightful. I have sharpened and acquired new skills in this course and believe that my participation in class and all the work I have completed earns me the right to an A.