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Dear Mr.

Gardner,

Now that I have reached the end of my freshman year, I can look back on how 9th grade

English has changed my style of writing. Entering this year, I tended to write my analytical

essays using the phrases “this quote is significant because…” or “this is important because…”

but now, I have learned to craft a more fluid essay. I had never heard of passive voice before this

year, but now knowing what it is, I worked hard on each of my essays to avoid the use of passive

voice. Additionally, this class this year has pushed me to select the best evidence to support my

theses, as opposed to picking mediocre evidence that does not thoroughly support my claims.

Throughout my years in middle school, I was not necessarily the happiest when I had to write an

essay or some other type of paper, especially when the assignment was about a book that I did

not necessarily enjoy. That attitude changed this year. I enjoyed reading most of the books

chosen for English 9, and that enjoyment carried over to writing papers. Furthermore, when it

came to revising pieces for this portfolio, I had more of a negative attitude towards the

assignment, but as I began to work on my revisions, I found it significantly helpful. Revising my

pieces allowed for me to thoroughly learn from my mistakes as I corrected them, and it allowed

me to see how I have grown as a writer over the year.

Our class discussions and my writing this year about characters who are quite different

from me have helped shape my understanding of the world around me. For example, when

reading Things Fall Apart, I learned about villagers in Africa and their culture, beliefs, and

values. When writing my one-page essay, I learned about the importance of fatherhood, and I

learned the importance of being successful and leadership within the village of Umuofia. I

broadened my perspective to understand and learn about beliefs that are different from mine,

while also learning about how Christian missionaries forced their way into African villages.
Secondly, when reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, I learned about a boy

from England with Asperger’s, and I learned how he handles social situations and the struggles

he must deal with. This book opened my eyes to the difficulties that people with Asperger’s must

face. By attempting to capture the tone and voice of Christopher through my creative chapter, I

learned about how people with Asperger’s speak and how they think. Additionally, our in-class

discussions about certain books broadened my perspectives and help me understand what

different people within our class think about the discussion topic. Overall, my writing and our

discussion in class presents my understanding of the world around me by opening my eyes to

differing opinions and different cultures.

For each assignment, there are different ideas which need to be conveyed. Through

revision, I have noticed the papers where I communicate my ideas well, but there are some other

situations where that needs work. Sometimes it is difficult to effectively convey your ideas

through various types of writing. Overall, throughout many different types of writing, word

choice, organization of thoughts, and attention to detail are important to effectively communicate

your ideas. Through revision, I noticed which of my pieces were specific, organized, and

detailed, and the ones that weren’t were the ones I chose to revise. While revising analytical

pieces, I made sure to make each piece specific and detail-oriented to communicate my ideas and

prove my theses. When it came to the creative pieces, the revision process was slightly different

because I was not trying to prove a claim, but revision still did involve attention to detail,

organization, and specific word choice.

In my allegory assignment for The Odyssey, the purpose I needed to fulfill was to parallel

by life with the story of Odysseus. To fulfill this purpose, I used concrete examples of evidence

that supported a major event within Odysseus’s voyage, and I connected that major event to
something within my life. Additionally, to reach my audience, I explained how learning about

Odysseus’s voyage can connect to the present-day world with success and failure.

In my fishbowl assignment essay, the purpose I tried to fulfill was to comment on three

poetic techniques used in Mary Oliver’s poem to convey an overall theme. I believe I fulfilled

this purpose by proving how similes, metaphors, and diction were used within the poem of

“When Death Comes.” For example, when I wrote, “In the first two stanzas, she compares death

to things which people normally fear…” I explained how Mary Oliver used similes to convey her

overall theme of courage. Furthermore, to reach my audience, I wrote my essay to be directed at

the reader. For instance, I wrote, “Mary Oliver puts death in a context which the reader can

understand…” This helps me reach my intended audience by teaching the reader a lesson.

In my original poem assignment, to fulfill my purpose of portraying a hard moment, I

used repetition and specific punctuation. For example, I wrote, “I still hear him telling me she

would have to be put down. / I still remember the tears that streamed down my face, / Seeing her

for the last time” (3-5). I believe that the repetition of “I still” conveys the hardship of this

moment, and the specific use of a period and comma creates a sense of ending. By choosing to

write about losing a dog, I feel as though I reached my audience by writing about a topic of

which I believe most people can relate to and sympathize with.

In my chapter for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, to fulfill my purpose

of capturing Christopher’s tone and voice, I used wordy sentences along with run-on sentences.

For example, when writing, “The doctor started touching me and I told him that I would sick all

over the place if he kept touching me. He didn’t stop touching me and then I hit him,” I believe

that I fulfilled my purpose because the wordiness of those sentences accurately captures

Christopher’s tone and voice. Additionally, to reach my intended audience, I used humor in my
Curious Incident chapter. For instance, I wrote, “There are no numbers to explain this so I used

to think that her face was frozen but I later heard Mrs. Gascoyne talking about how Siobhan gets

shots in her face to prevent her from looking old.” I believe that this sentence helps me reach my

audience because humor keeps the attention of the reader.

When revising my original poem, I realized that I should have included better

descriptions, and I solved this by changing some of my poetic devices that I used within the

poem. I was most proud of my use of enjambment by writing, “The way she looked at me / The

way she ran to me / The way she loved me / Gone” (7-10). This use of enjambment is important

to the overall poem because lines 7 through 9 create a buildup to line 10, which creates an

emphasis on the word “gone.” The lack of punctuation conveys an idea of life and things

continuing, but the single word of “gone” with a period shows an end. In your comments, you

suggested that I should use similes or metaphors to give the reader a better idea of what Juneau

was like. When talking about her eyes, instead of just calling them brown, I included the

metaphor of “Her eyes were fireflies” (11). This metaphor gives the reader a visual of how her

eyes shined and how pretty they were, showing how “…those eyes lit up a room” (14). Secondly,

I changed my use of a simile from being cliché to describing Juneau’s fur. I wrote, “Oh, how I

miss her soft black fur, / Soft as a child imagines a cloud to be” (16-17). This is a better use of a

simile than my original one. By comparing her fur to a cloud, the reader can get a visual or

perhaps an idea of how soft her fur was. Lastly, I used many commas and periods to use

punctuation very specifically. “I still remember the day the world seemed as if it had stopped. / I

still hear my dad’s voice, / I still hear him telling me she would have to be put down. / I still

remember the tears that streamed down my face, / Seeing her for the last time” (1-5). I used
commas and periods at the end of each line in this stanza to convey a sense of ending. I used

more commas and periods in other places throughout this poem to convey the same idea.

When writing my chapter for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, I tried to

capture Christopher’s tone by using run-on and wordy sentences. For example, when writing

“When I talked to Siobhan about Father she said that Father is trying his best to understand my

Behavioral Problems and that I should not talk to Father about my Behavioral Problems when he

is mad at me,” I feel as though I accurately captured Christopher’s tone by repeating “Father”

and “Behavioral Problems.” Additionally, the lack of commas makes it difficult to pause when

reading this sentence, which I feel accurately captures Christopher’s voice. Furthermore, I tried

to show the observations that Christopher makes. When writing “He scrunches his face up and

his forehead becomes wrinkly and there are 3 lines on his forehead...” and “When the doctor

came in he was wearing a white coat with a yellow stethoscope and the mole on his cheek moved

up and down as he talked,” I think I accurately captured and showed what Christopher notices.

Lastly, this chapter was numbered “137.” Although this is already a chapter number within the

book, I wanted to continue with the idea of prime numbers. This chapter that I have written is to

be placed after Christopher’s father hits him and before they go to the zoo. This is the place in

the book where Christopher’s father is the maddest, and I think that my chapter fits well here

because it is an explanation of how Christopher wishes that Father would listen to him before

becoming mad.

Out of the pieces I have written this year, I am most proud of my District Commissioner

paragraph. I really like how I captured the tone of the District Commissioner by creating him as

an arrogant character. I like how I use the words “primitives” and “ignorant clansmen” to portray

the District Commissioner as someone who views himself as superior over the men of Umuofia.
Additionally, I think it was a clever idea to not directly state Okonkwo’s name within the

paragraph. I believed that the District Commissioner would not want to give Okonkwo any

power within his book. As we have learned in English this year, a name holds power, and by not

directly stating Okonkwo’s name, the District Commissioner limits Okonkwo’s authority.

The greatest challenge I faced with this assignment was time management. This was a

very time-consuming assignment, and I struggled to find time to design a website, make

significant change to 3 pieces, write a new piece, and write this reflection letter. Although, I did

find time to write it. I took advantage of in-class worktime to design my weebly, I worked during

study halls to write my new piece, and I worked on the weekends to edit papers and write this

reflection letter.

Now moving into sophomore year, I plan to take my knowledge of the “single story” into

next year. When beginning a book, I will make sure to see multiple perspectives on the story and

consider any bias of the author. I will try my best for better analysis and knowledge of

characters. When it comes to reading comprehension, I know I need to improve, so I will pay

attention to detail during nightly readings for better performance on daily quizzes. When it

comes to writing, I will continue to work to avoid passive voice, and I will work hard to use

stronger verbs and to avoid “be” verbs. Furthermore, I will continue to work to avoid the use of

“this is important because…” and craft fluid essays.

Thank you for teaching me this year!

Sincerely,

Hudson Rixham

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