The English 101 Final Portfolio

Purpose: To demonstrate your best writing and create pieces you would be proud to include in a college application portfolio. This will also help you think about your writing and the writing process in a more conscious way, which will, ideally, make you into a more careful, self-conscious and effective writer.

Contents: 2 revised essays (5+ pages each); or 1 expanded/combined essay (9+); or 3 short essays (3+)

AND 1 Reflective Cover letter (1+ pages)

Process: Your task is to take any of the essays we have written this quarter (the 5 paragraph essay, the 2nd response essay, the supported argument essay or the in-class essay) and perhaps the deliberation paper, and expand them into richer, more sophisticated essays. Combined with a 1-2 page reflective letter, the final product should be 11 to 12 pages of your best writing this quarter.

Essentially, you are going to take each assignment and transform it, in the sense of the word “revise” that takes its meaning from the word re-vision – to see again in a new way.

You may do this in any number of ways, but the result should be

  • More complicated
  • More meaningful
  • More sophisticated
  • More significant
  • Or even more personal

The basic idea is to make it into something you like better while still retaining the spirit of the original assignments and still demonstrating the concepts that the original assignment was designed to teach.

Some ideas for re-envisioning your essays:

  • You might add ideas from another article
  • You can add personal stories or experiences you are familiar with to help explain a concept
  • You can re-write it in the style of a particular magazine or imagine a completely different audience
  • You might simply get more detailed with your analysis or explanation

You will probably end up doing more than one of these things to each paper.

Evaluation: You will be evaluated on the same criteria I have been using on your essays all quarter:

  • your ability to focus your paper around a single thesis,
  • your ability to separate your paper into coherent but connected paragraphs,
  • your ability to write fluidly and correctly with an interesting voice,
  • your ability to effectively support your claims with appropriate and convincing evidence,
  • your ability to reveal original ideas through the analysis of this evidence,
  • a demonstration that you understand the ideas presented in the essays in our textbook,
  • and your ability to cite passages and format your paper correctly using MLA format.
  • On top of this, you will be graded on the extent of your revision.

You will also write a cover letter/reflective essay that explains:

  1. How you changed the essays for the portfolio – a fairly detailed explanation
  2. Why you felt the changes you made would improve them and still reflect the concepts they were meant to teach
  3. What you think you learned from the experience – a fairly detailed discussion of what you learned about critical thinking and college-level writing from producing this portfolio (which was a quarter long process)

You might also talk about your relationship with academic writing and elements of the writing process.

Please feel free to draft a copy of your reflective essay early that talks about the changes you WILL make in your essays in the past tense. This will accomplish two things:

  1. It will help you plan your revisions
  2. It will keep you from waiting until the last minute to write this essay that will be graded with as much rigor as your other portfolio pieces.

If this is still confusing, please take a look at my Sample Reflective Letter with comments.