portfolios ENGL489 Advanced Portfolio Workshop
Need to be in touch with me?
310 Tillinghast Hall
Bridgewater State University
Spring 2019 Office Hours:
And by appointment.
Want to make an appointment? Click here.
Overview. Portfolios work in different ways in different classes. Sometimes they are used to simply collect the work that a student has done over a period of time. Sometimes they are used to mark progress via revision. And sometimes they are used as a way to assess student work—not simply his writing work but his effort and progress in class. Finally, portfolios in the creative world are a showcase of an artist's best, most representative work.
The portfolios you will turn in will do a little bit of all of those things, depending on which portfolio we are working with. The midterm is a chance for you to collect and reflect on your work, to think about what you’ve done well and what you still need to learn. I’ll ask you to write about this in a reflection letter that you include with the portfolio. Another way you will showcase your progress is through revision. You’ll write about this in your reflection letter as well. The final portfolio, on the other hand, is really all showcase.
Both times you turn in a portfolio, I will use them as a way of assessing your effort, your progress as a writer and as a student, and the quality of your written work. I will read the portfolios and include a lengthy letter to you when I return them. That letter will detail your entire career in this class up to that point. It will give you feedback on the quality of the portfolio itself, and I will give you a letter grade that marks your progress in a way that is valued by the college.
This semester, I would like to try to employ the portfolio as a collection of material that, by the end of the semester, serves as a launch pad for the next phase of your writing life. In short, I'd like for folks to put their final portfolio online. We'll begin the work at the midterm, learning the possible platforms for creating your portfolio. And, as the semester ends, we'll spend time putting together your material for the final portfolio and identifying how you want to display it on your site. I know that this can sound intimidating, but I've done this with other students, and I feel confident we can do this.
The midterm portfolio is a moment to figure out where we are both at in the semester. It's time to take stock to see what you've learned so far and what you want to learn in the rest of the semester. The midterm portfolio reflects this. You will include the following material in your midterm portfolio:
- A selection of your ICRNs. You can select up to three ICRNs from the semester. What should the basis of your selection revolve around? Choose notes that represent an experience with the readings/genre that affected how you thought about your own writing--in terms of what you might want to write, in terms of how you write (so craft), in terms of inspiration, etc. You do not need to revise or recopy your ICRNs. You can simply turn in the copy that has my comments on it. Include with these selections a half page overview (one half page total--not one half page for each set of notes you include) of why you picked what you picked and the ways it affected your writing. You should do the selecting and the 1/2 page reflection out of class, and the 1/2 page should be typed. And, it goes without saying, you don't get more points for picking three. Pick as honestly as you can.
- A selection from your writer's notebook. Your basis for selection is simple: pick something you wrote that you really liked. You can pick something you think that maybe, one day, you might revise into something else, but you don't even have to want to revise it. You can just like it. Please include a short, half page at most, typed overview of why, essentially, you liked it so much that you picked it. You can pick more than one thing, but don't go overboard. You do not need to revise the material in anyway. You can just slide the pages, with my comments and all on them, right into the portfolio. You should do the selecting and the 1/2 page reflection out of class.
- Your completed Rethink/Revise piece. Please include the original text and any interim drafts that you workshopped with your colleagues or conferenced with me. Include with this piece an overview--about one typed page, double-spaced--that explains to me what you did to revise the piece, how you think it affected the piece (good or bad), and where, if anywhere, you'd like to see the piece go from here (and I mean that both literally, like getting it published, and figuratively, as in what work you'd still like to do on it). You should write the overview out of class.
- A proposal for your final project. In the midterm portfolio, I would like for you to include a one page, typed (single-spaced) discussion of what you think your final project is going to be. Tell me about the following in your one page:
- What genre are you writing in?
- How would you briefly summarize the writing you will be doing in the project?
- Why this project and not some other project?
- What are you nervous about as you undertake this project (talk about yourself as a writer here; don't tell me about how you are worried about graduating or fitting all the work in--all that is a given)?
- What might you do to help you know how to do this project better (what kind of reading, what kind of research, what kind of exploration)?
Then, in class, answer the following questions in your midterm portfolio cover letter. I don’t care how you structure this letter. You can write it as a letter. You can write it like a memo, an essay, a bulleted list. You can put each question down on the page and answer it right below. All I want is for you to answer this. You’ll have about an hour in class to do the writing. I would prefer for you to type your response. I would like it to be about two pages, double-spaced, in length. It can be more (if you can do that in an hour), it should not really be too much less. If you insist on hand-writing, please plan accordingly so you are producing a similar quantity of text to your colleagues who are typing on a computer. Here are the questions to answer:
- Upon reflection, what do you know about yourself as a writer at this moment in time?
- How did you get here?
- What sort of writer do you want to become, and what will you have to do to get there?
It will be tempting, perhaps, for some of you to sort of blow smoke, if you know what I mean. I get the impulse, but try not to. Try to answer as honestly as you can.
On the day the portfolio is due, I will give you a manila envelop for you to put your materials in to. Please don't do fancy folders or binders. This is just more stuff for me to carry. You'll get your portfolios back in about a week, and I will give you an evaluation letter and a grade-so-far for the semester.
In-class the day the portfolios are due, we'll play around with platforms for moving some of your material online for the final portfolio.
How you will be evaluated
Your Midterm Portfolio is worth 20% of your grade. That 20% is made up mainly by your Revise/Rethink project. You should consult that assignment information for details on how that will be evaluated. In addition to your work on the Revise/Rethink project, you need to complete the other elements of the portfolio to earn the full 20%. The Revise/Rethink project is evaluated based on completing the requirements and about the quality of the work. In order to earn your 20%, you must include the other elements of the portfolio (the ICRNs, Writing Notebooks, along with the appropriate reflections, and the cover letter). If you don't turn in the other materials, it will mean that you can only earn a "B" grade for the midterm portfolio.
As I mention in the overview above, some portfolios, namely the portfolios of creative people, contains someone's best, most representative work. That is what the final portfolio for this class should do. Ideally, you will put together a collection of work that you wrote in this class that you might use to get into an MFA or get a writing job or build a teaching portfolio. I am imagining some level of cohesion and symmetry, but I am aware that this might not be the case---that you might not need or be in a position to put together quite that level of portfolio. But, by the end of the semester, all of you should be able to put together solid work. And that's what your final portfolio should be: a collection of your best work. Some of you may need to consult with me because you will either have more or less pages, but, generally, I am looking to see 15 to 20 pages of your best work from this class. You will have time in class, about an hour, to write your final portfolio cover letter. That cover letter is also much simpler than your midterm cover letter. Here, explain to me why this is your best and brightest work and what you did to get it that way. Additionally discuss what your next step is (if you have one) as a writer. In a way, I'm thinking of this as an artist's statement, and that this document will serve as an introduction for your online portfolio.
For the final portfolio, I hope we can manage to put this final portfolio online, including your artist's statement. You'll need to think about how it looks visually, and you'll want to think about what to include and how to organize it and how to label it on your site. We'll work on this in the days leading up to the end of the semester.
I write from South Dakota, and I apologize in my delay getting this out to you. Days are very filled here. What follows is everything you should need to know to finish up in our class. Beyond emailing all of you, I am also putting this information on our syllabus, on our portfolio page, and on the final project assignment page. I am hoping that will be sufficient.
- As I said during our last two meetings in class: portfolios are due to me on Monday, 13 May 2019. You can submit your materials electronically if you so choose. You can drop it off to my Tilly 310 office if you are on campus.
- WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR FINAL PORTFOLIO: There was some question about whether the portfolio assignment as described online was accurate and, in short, it pretty much in. I quote here directly from the portfolio page:
“And that's what your final portfolio should be: a collection of your best work. Some of you may need to consult with me because you will either have more or less pages, but, generally, I am looking to see 15 to 20 pages of your best work from this class. You will have time in class, about an hour, to write your final portfolio cover letter. That cover letter is also much simpler than your midterm cover letter. Here, explain to me why this is your best and brightest work and what you did to get it that way. Additionally discuss what your next step is (if you have one) as a writer.”
A few points of difference:
- we did not, unfortunately, have the chance to work on websites. So you don’t have to worry about posting anything to anywhere.
- I just need the 15 to 20 pages of revised work from the semester. Based on what I say in workshop, most of you will include your midterm portfolio material as well (probably with some revision). You may include polished versions of what appeared in your writer’s notebook as well.
- Because our actual final exam period was canceled due to my trip, you will obviously not have any time during a class period to work on a the portfolio cover letter. You will need to turn that in with your 15 to 20 pages of revised writing.
- That said, the content of the cover letter remains the same: why is this your best work, and what did you do in revision to get it that way. And, finally, you can talk about where you want to go from here as a writer.