Archive | Major Assignment Instructions RSS feed for this section

The Final Portfolio

17 Nov

What Makes Up a Final Portfolio?

Title: Your final portfolio must have a creative title. My/The Final Portfolio is not an acceptable title. Think about what you want readers to focus on in your work or something that describes the work that you are presenting in your portfolio to help you come up with one.

Table of Contents: This may be done differently depending on the form your final portfolio takes, but there must be some way for readers to figure out what piece went where.

Reflection: This is one of the most important pieces of your portfolio. It is the place where you tell readers about your work and about who you are as a writer. It also gives me insight into the ways that you have revised your pieces, since I cannot tell by simply looking at a piece. In fact, often times, an outstanding analytical reflection paper can help bolster weaker writing. You should use this as a place to talk about why you included specific pieces, how these pieces and your writing in general evolved (if you think it did), and your writing strengths and weaknesses at this stage in the game. Closer to the end of the semester, I will give you a list of questions to help prompt your thinking.

However, the reflection letter is not a course evaluation. Don’t mistake talking about your growth as a writer with talking about the awesomeness/awfulness of this class. Saying “Nicole was a terrible teacher” won’t really help an audience understand who you feel you are as a writer or what you think your portfolio offers readers.

And since students always ask, I will tell you in advance that there is no page minimum technically, but I’d find it hard to believe that anyone could do a sufficient job in less than 3 pages. I am willing to read as much as you’d like to write.

You can place the reflection anywhere in your portfolio that you so choose– beginning, end, middle—as long as you’ve given thought to why that place is the right place for it. You might also choose to write a large whole-portfolio reflection and a smaller reflection on each piece of writing.

Contents: The contents of the portfolio should be pieces of writing that reflect your best work and/or the work that means the most to you. It is a display of who you have become as a writer. There are some basic guidelines to follow, however. You must include:

  • 2 revised major assignments (Literacy Narrative, Somewhere I Belong project, Writing as Activism project)
  • 1 revised freewrite
  • 2 revised mini-assignment (modest proposals, PSA, album and reflection, rhetorical analysis, the most boring essays ever, writing center reactions, freewrite blog post, )
  • 2 other revised pieces of your choice
  • optional: anything else that you have written in this course that you want to include

Everything in your portfolio must be significantly revised from the last draft that you turned in, and it should be polished for an audience.


What Does a Final Portfolio Look Like?

There are several ways that you may approach the final portfolio.

You can create a website. For this, I recommend GoogleSites because it’s free and easy to use. LiveBinder is another interesting option, but it does not allow you to paste in Word Documents, only PDFs and websites. This, to me, seems like the most logical option for many of you.

You can use Glogster to create a poster that links to your work.

You can give me a typical Word Document. If you’re including several digital projects (blogs, documentaries, etc.), this may not be the best option. You can, of course, include links, but your ability to personalize a document is limited.

You can choose some other option not listed here, as long as you run it by me and get approval first.


Turning It In

The portfolio will be due at noon on Wednesday, December 14. There will be a discussion board set up on Blackboard where you can submit your work. It is time-stamped, so I will know exactly when you turned it in.

The final portfolio will be worth 30% of your grade.

If I do not receive your final portfolio, you will not pass this class. Let me repeat that: if you do not hand in your portfolio on time, you will fail.


Writing as Activism

13 Oct

image from Thayne Center for Learning

Writing as Activism:

Some of the greatest reforms the world has ever known were sparked by the writings of passionate women and men.  Martin Luther King, Jr. penned the famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in an attempt to end racial segregation and the inhumane treatment of African Americans in the South. Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own to advocate women’s rights, especially their right to creative freedom and economic independence. The Declaration of Independence sparked the Revolutionary War that enabled America to gain its freedom from England. If you explore, you will see that almost every major event in history has had its flame fueled by writing.

I encourage you to set your own fire. Pick something about the world that frustrates you, that you know needs to change, and find a way to do it. Use our Corkboard for inspiration if necessary. You can write an editorial to a local newspaper, send a letter to your congressman, or draft up a project proposal for a charity event. You can create a blog (complete with entries) or start a website. You can start a documentary or podcast and write a script. Everyone must complete a final project of at least 1250 words of writing regardless of the medium chosen. You will also be required to have at least THREE outside sources cited in MLA format (APA is also a possibility). If you’re settled on a project, but can’t figure out how to meet the word requirement, we can absolutely discuss your options.

Remember, no one wants to hear whining. If you want to convince someone that change needs to happen, you are going to have to sound well-read and professional. This means doing research and using your best writing. You are also going to have to consider multiple sides of the argument. One-sided rants are usually just as ineffectual as whining. It will be helpful to you to consider the role you want to take and the audience you want to address. Furthermore, it isn’t always necessary to have the solution to your problem. You may just expose what’s not working, what is, and what questions we should be asking.

This project is not just theoretical. Everyone really will send out their letters, publish their blogs, forward their project proposals, etc.

Submit a one-page project proposal to me by Thursday, October 20 posted to your blog. On that day, there will be mini-presentations of the proposals.

Final Presentations of your projects will be held on Wednesday, November 30.

The Calendar of Due Dates

Thursday, October 20 — Proposals

Wednesday, October 26 — Research Journals # 1 & 2

Thursday, October 27 — Music Read & Tweet

Wednesday, November 2 — 1st Draft posted to Blackboard Discussion Board

Thursday, November 3 — “A Modest Proposal” Read & Tweet

Wednesday, November 9 — Resarch Journal # 3; MLK, Jr. Read & Tweet

Thursday, November 10 — 2nd Draft

Wednesday, November 16 — Research Journal # 4

Thursday, November 17 — Reading TBA

NO CLASS Wednesday, November 23 and Thursday, November 24– HAPPY THANKSGIVING 🙂

Wednesday, November 30 — Final Drafts & Presentations

The Somewhere I Belong Calendar

21 Sep

9/21 — Photo # 1

9/22 — Research Journal # 1

Reading TBA on Bb


9/28 — Research Journal # 2

9/29 — Photo # 2 & 1st Draft


10/5 — Research Journal # 3

10/6 — Interview

Reading TBA on Bb


10/12 — 2nd Draft

Reading TBA on Bb


10/19 — Final Draft

Somewhere I Belong: The Unit 2 Project

15 Sep

The unit asks you to consider the terms place and community. Where is it that you feel you most belong or you most want to belong? Where is your place, or where is the place you most want to be? Who is a part of your community? These are some of the questions you may ask throughout this unit.

For this unit, we will be doing ethnographic research and writing. This will require some field work on your part. You will be photographing, conducting interviews, and writing observations. These smaller steps will be part of your research process and help you build towards your larger final essay.

The final package will be a multi-modal project (that means more than one type of communication method—pictures, videos, soundbites, interactive posters, etc.) of 1250+ or a 5-8 minute documentary (iMovie is great for this).

1 Interview on WordPress blog – these can be done using a webcam or audio recording posted to your blog or by transcribing an interview word-for-word and posting the the transcription on your blog — due 10/6

3 research journal entries on WordPress blog – I will post separately about how to do these– 9/22, 9/28, 10/5

1 final project – due 10/19

These are, of course, the minimum requirements. Feel free to go above and beyond.

A small pointer: a community does not have to be a literal place, and it certainly doesn’t have to be your hometown.



A miniaturized version as an example

I am an equestrian, a member of the horseback riding community. I know the “language,” both the jargon equestrians use and the signs horses give to communicate. I know the proper barn etiquette: clean up after your horse if your he poops in the barn, left passes left in the ring, dust off your boots before you get in the show ring, etc. I am also aware of the culture, including the traditional costumes.

My picture: I chose a picture of my horse and me at the barn where I’ve been riding since I was 11 years old. A better picture would probably be the actual barn because it represents a whole community rather than just an individual. This picture seems to be more about the sport or the relationship between my horse and myself rather than the community. Since this is a rough draft, it’s ok to have a “rough representation” (plus, this was the only picture I had available at the moment). I would not make this my sole image.

My interview: I would probably interview another rider, a trainer, or a barn owner to find out more about the community and its problems. I would ask many open-ended questions instead of yes-no questions.

My research: This would depend on the angle I take. If i’m talking about what it means to be an equestrian, I might research articles from Olympic riders. If I’m talking about collegiate equestrians, I might read something by Bob Cacchione, head of the Intercollegiate Horseshow Association (IHSA). If I’m talking about problems in the equine industry, I might look up something from an equine vet about the deadly diseases, such as Strangles, that affect barns or talk to the guys over at the Meadowlands about how badly the racing industry is doing. In my research journals, I could write about all of these, but eventually, I would have to figure out what and how to use the research I have done.

End project: I think this also depends on the angle I choose. If I was working with the problems in the industry, I might put together and informative website with my narrative as the homepage, or I could make an expose-type documentary. If I was talking about what it was like to be an equestrian, I might do a blog post with pictures and video clips, or I might go for a documentary with lots of photos and a voice-over of my narrative.


A limited list of other communities I could have chosen:

  • English majors
  • amateur photographers
  • doctoral students
  • Compositionists
  • writers
  • Twitter users
  • Subraru drivers
  • middle class girls from New Jersey
  • women
  • fans of House music

The list is really quite endless, but I’m sure I’ve already revealed too much about my lifestyle with these entries.

Literacy Narratives

1 Sep

For your very first major assignment of ENG1000C, you will be crafting a literacy narrative. We’ve already read two (“The Library Card” and “On Being 17”) that you can feel free to use as models.

What is a literacy narrative?

Black Columbus gives a pretty good definition:

  • A literacy narrative is a first-hand narrative about reading or composing (or teaching reading and composing) in any form or context.
  • Literacy narratives can be short or long, two minutes or twenty-five.*
  • Literacy narratives can be about your experiences as a small child, a teenager, an adult, a senior.
  • Literacy narratives can be about reading stories books, cereal boxes, music, or video game cheats—anything at all that you read or any story about teaching reading.
  • Literacy narratives can be about composing letters, Facebook pages, song lyrics,’ zines, blogs, maps, essays in school—anything at all that you compose, or any story about teaching writing.
  • Literacy narratives can be sad or happy, poignant or funny, informative or incidental. Literacy narrative often focus on powerful memories about events, people, situations, places—times when you tried and succeeded or tried and failed; someone who gave you a chance or took one away; situations when someone taught you how to do something or when you taught someone else; churches and schools, contests and performances, plays and public presentations.

*I’m asking that your last pre-portfolio draft is at least 3 pages, but you are welcome to exceed that.

When you are finished, you might consider publishing your literacy narrative here: Digital Archives of Literacy Narratives.