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Portfolio Essay I still felt half asleep as I made my way through the unfamiliar campus to my first English 1101

class. I had to stop and check my map on the way to make sure I wasnt straying from the path I laid my eyes on before leaving my dorm. I arrived at my destination, Smith Hall, in less time than I expected. The room was much smaller than I expected, and I liked that. On my third day of freshman year in college, I was not fully adjusted to the typical lecture style of learning, and felt some comfort in a familiar sized class. I ended up sitting in a back corner by the window where I could see other students walking to and from their classes. All I knew about this class was what I read in the syllabus, and what fellow classmates a year ahead of me had said about English being so hard. The course description said wed engage critically with the opinions and voices of others. I had little to no confidence sitting in that space ship chair the first day. I had never strived my English classes in high school, nor was I very outspoken. Responsibility for ones learning was the only key concept I felt I would be good at. I have always been an independent person so I was not worried about taking my education into my very own hands, but risk taking seemed so foreign and unmanageable. The most recent risk I took was in a group discussion about the article we read on Tips for Studying. When I wrote my Reading Response Letter for the article, one point I disagreed on was the authors advice to listen to music while studying. I found this so distracting, and voiced my opinion in my small group. The people around me agreed with the article, so I brought up to the whole class the question of why it is helpful for some people and not helpful to others. The thing I had to realize about risks is that they are very individualized. For me it was making myself vulnerable to my peers in discussions and in my writing.

I never knew how to analyze the feedback on my papers I got from peers, and had it in my head that I did not know how to provide feedback either. This was mainly because I was not a very strong speller and I relied on my computer to fix my grammar mistakes. When I had someone elses paper in front of me, I used to read through it and not know what to say. When people would comment on my paper, I would change the wording they suggested but was always stubborn when they would suggest for me to elaborate or change my organization. This is because I did not know what revising a paper meant until we read the article Really Responding to Other Students Writing. This article made me finally understand what it meant to revise a paper. Youre there to play back to the writer how you read the paper: what you got from is; what you found interesting; where you were confused; where you wanted more. When I read drafts of writing, I no longer edit from the perspective of an incapable peer. I now read from the perspective of the intended audience which had lead to me being able to point out confusing parts, rushed topics, and well written parts. And when I am given suggestions, I understand that it takes time to see my words through their eyes and come up with ways to incorporate their ideas. My portfolio essay combined all the standout assignments from this semester into one reflective essay, and is found on the first tab after my home page. For this assignment, I went through all of the work from the start of the year, and analyzed the importance of each peice. Writing this essay had me pulling out all my organizational skills to make it into a fluent piece of writing. Previously, there was a paragraph before this one explaining the organization of my eportfolio that was very hard to follow. Now, you will see that I have introduced each artifact in the order it is displayed on my weebly. This paper is a final reflection on my first semester of college English.

I dont think you could write this literacy narrative in less than 4 pages, said Mrs. Ingram. My initial thought was that I was going to have to bulls*** four pages on a book I had read in high school. I brainstormed a list of books I had read in high school English. This did not spark any ideas of how to write my essay until we discussed what literacy meant to us in class. After this, I disregarded the list of books I was trying to pull meaning from, and began writing down experiences that have made up who I am today. This process helped me better prepare myself for when I began writing my essay, because I already had so many things I wanted to say about the topic I finally chose, my solo. I chose to include my brainstorming process on my Literacy Narrative tab on my e-portfolio to visually demonstrate how my perception of literacy changed. I also included my second draft on this tab. I stuck to a very structured style of writing in high school, and told my stories through dialogue instead of description. Before writing this essay I thought details were boring and irrelevant. This assignment required me to take a risk with a concept that was very foreign to me before. I felt my last whiff of air conditioning as I took of the blindfold and squinted into the intense Utah sun. To me, everything out there looked the same. Red rocks, lots of rocks, sandy grounds, and very little greenery. Ava guided me to my camping spot first. Sure enough my temporary home was grounded with hot rocky sand, and a view of endless skies and towers of red boulders. After composing a second draft I was very satisfied with, I got feedback on ways to spice up my writing. I had a habit of not regarding feedback unless I had done something wrong with my writing. Mrs. Ingrams suggestions to add an excerpt from the book I read or to break up my writing were not necessary to me, and for weeks I let my paper be. After completing a few other assignments, I decided to revisit my narrative. You will your suggestions incorporated in my

final draft, while I explored a new format of writing. During the parts where other people were present, I removed my reflective sentences and italicized them, separating my thoughts from the conversations that took place. The fact that the length of time was left unknown drove me even more insane. I was already ready to set a countdown to when I could come back home and surround myself with my friends. I made my literacy narrative my second tab on my e-portfolio. I wanted this piece to be one of the first ones you read because I am proud of the new boundaries I reached with my writing. Every time I read over it I find myself picturing the surroundings and playing the experience over like a movie in my head. I got over the bump of our first assignment, and next I was faced with three genre analyses. My jaw probably dropped because I had no idea what that even meant. Even after going over the assignment in class I felt so clueless. I included these analyses on the next tab because it was the assignment I struggled the most with. On this tab I also have rhetorical analysis notes from my writers notebook along with the second draft of college analysis and feedback. The notes I took on rhetorical analyses made no sense to me until I spent a lot of time working with this type of writing. My thinking that the notes made no sense was relative; the notes made perfect sense I just didnt have the understanding to make sense of them yet. I had to be patient with myself and read example essays over and over. Dionnas essay on volleyball statistics helped me understand how simple it was to identify the purpose of writing. I believe that StatTraks purpose for making these score sheets was to be able to have order at sports game so that the game can be recorded accurately and efficiently while at the same time keeping track of player stats and rotation information. My final drafts taught me that I can push through things that I think are impossible, and accomplish them. This was a good lesson for the student in me to learn because I have years of difficult courses in my future that will require me to go back and

revisit things numerous times. One of the comments you will see on my second draft of What is a Literacy Narrative?, my analysis from college writing, is how could this paragraph be better organized? My thoughts are naturally very sporadic, and I recognized this in my writing. I took my already written line Our audience was the class, and we can all relate to changing and growing because these are the years where that happens the most, and created a separate paragraph so that it was not combined with my purpose paragraph. For our midterm, I responded eight questions each with at least 200 characters. It put into perspective how fast the semester was flying by and had me reflect on what I had learned and what I still needed to improve on. Speaking up in a discussion made me feel really awkward, but I had taken my first risk, reminds me of how small I felt even in the middle of the semester and how I slowly felt more comfort in our class discussions. This midterm was different than most of my previous writing assignments that had been objective, this was asking for my opinions. Each question picked at a different part of my brain. I no longer wondered what the difference was going to be in a college English class from the courses I had taken in high school, I was now responding to it. The key concepts were no longer just words on my syllabus; they were principals I was engaging in and learning from. One question stated, What advice would you give to a current high school senior who is preparing for college academics? This question made me pause for a second. I thought back to before summer 2013 when college seemed so far off. It felt like this exciting idea that I never thought would come. Now my teacher was asking me what advice I had to give people to be ready for it. One big thing I would advise current high school students is to take AP courses! I am so jealous of the students who already have lots of credits from high school. My senior year was so easy because I took mainly electives, when I could have gotten a college course or two out of the way. Reading back on this showed me how

reluctant I was to take a risk with AP courses in high school, and how my mindset has changed about pushing myself. Blog post number one was an interesting experience for me because I had never written a blog posting before. I had never even read one! I love how relatable our blog posts are. We talked a lot in class about how many different forms of writing there was, and our blog posts were always very opinion based and reflective. When I think back over the past 3 weeks of English class the first word that comes to mind is collaborative. Before I started this course, I was dreading the grammatical lectures and excessive reading. Reading this is shocking because the way I view English is so different now. Grammar was the least of our focus, and we spent so much more time on the bigger picture. Each blog post helped me think about what was going on in class, when the chaos of life was tuning me out. Three weeks into the course, our blog post helped me think about what I had already learned at that point and put my attention on what would be coming next. I felt like I had just come to college, but after writing about what we had already done, I showed myself how quickly I was learning and how much we had already done. This timeline of posts is found on the following tab. Finally, you will find my All the Rest tab with the second artifact from my notebook and my wild card. I wanted to include my response letter on Anne Lamotts Shitty First Drafts. When I wrote this, I was new to the college English course and had so much to learn. Lamott said, close your eyes and get quite for a minute until the chatter starts up. I reflected on the authors words about how no one can sit down and write gold. I always over think my ideas before I let them onto the paper, when I need to pour it all out. This article makes me think of a first draft as a expression template instead of a rough draft. It demonstrated how much of a process writing is and that the start can be ugly. Another readers response letter was The Five-

Paragraph Essay and the Deficit Model of Education. I had never thought about the defaults in the only writing layout I previously knew until reading this article and connecting it with the approach towards writing in this class. Instead of letting our minds pour out on paper, we confine our thinking to fit the rubric. That article turned a switch in my head that writing is more abstract than I was used to. I chose this to be my wild card because I now give my writing its own flow. Three months ago, my essay would have started out with an intro paragraphing outlining would I was about to tell you or responding to one of the bullets for our Portfolio Essay Guidelines. This whole class expanded off of that article, educating me about how writing should be. My writing should be expressive and individualized, and this letter shows when I acknowledged that. I am not the same unsure and soft spoken student as I was that first day of English 1101. The risks I took in my writing and in the class room have introduced me to new ways to going about writing, and the steps after that. I discovered that aside from being taught by my professor, I can learn from the discussions with my peers and the way they interpret things. Writing became much more of an expressive and continuous process. While doing a final revision for my eportfolio, I changed little things that I felt slightly improved a sentence, where before I would have let it be if the overall paper followed the rubric. I thought I had always been responsible for my learning, but the steps I took to improve my writing this semester showed me that I still had a long way to come. I feel that the work I have completed fulfills expectations of an A student, and that I have given the effort to deserve this grade. I am already curious to what next semester has in store for me, and what new layers of my writing capability I will reach.