grades posted

I have posted final grades. You can check them on PAWS. I enjoyed reading your portfolios and seeing the progress that you have made throughout the semester. Have a good break, and I hope you get to enjoy some time with family and friends.

Image by Flickr user jarkkos

final portfolio

As you know, final portfolios are due Monday Dec. 12, in my office (Curtin 284) between 11 AM and 2 PM. I have to go to a meeting at 2, so I need portfolios before then.

Your final portfolio includes your two best interpretive essays and one reflective essay.

If you didn’t get it in class, here is the supremely important checklist for completing the final portfolio [.pdf]. This basically tells you what you need to know. We’ll be reviewing it in class on Friday.

Remember, we meet in Curtin 118 on Friday December 9.

assignment 5-2: an interpretive essay revision

Due: Friday, December 2
Format: Print one copy, staple it, and bring it to class.

For this final assignment of the semester (!!!), revise one interpretive essay that you plan to include in your final portfolio due December 12. Begin by reviewing the portfolio goals printed on page 6 in the purple Student’s Guide. Keeping these goals in mind, use the DK Handbook‘s revision checklist on page 221, my comments, and your classmates’ feedback to revise your interpretive essay.

Think about how you can better maintain a controlling purpose that reflects on both what matters to you and to your readers. How can you improve the clarity of your essay using the organization of your paragraphs, your introduction, thesis statement, and other writing choices? How can you better support your argument by using quotations, paraphrases, and a work cited page?

Feel free to turn in two revisions, but note that I won’t be able to devote as much time to both. So, if one essay really needs a lot of work, just turn in that revision. If you have two fairly polished essays, you might turn in both since they will individually require less time from me.

Here are some strategies for revising your own essays:

Strategy 1:
You will need a hard copy of your essay and a set of colored highlighters for this, but colored pencils/pens/markers could also work. First, read through your essay draft and highlight portions of it using the following color-code system:

  • Blue: Thesis statement, which should imply a sense of your purpose in writing the essay
  • Yellow: Interpretive points or claims you are making about the author’s essay (other than the thesis statement)
  • Pink: Support (in the form of direct quotes or paraphrases) for these interpretive claims
  • Green (or whatever other color you have): Sentences that are summarizing the author’s essay

Next, write one or two paragraphs in which you reflect on what you learned from color-coding your essay. What was easy or difficult about the color-coding? Do you have more yellow than pink? This might mean you are making a lot of claims without adding enough evidence from the text. Do you have too much green? Remember your essay should have much more interpretation than summary. Do you struggle to find a controlling purpose or thesis statement? This means your readers will struggle to find direction in your essay and struggle to figure out what you are trying to tell them/where you are leading them.

Strategy 2:
Create a reverse outline of your essay. You will need a hard copy of your essay for this. Follow the two-step instructions on the Purdue OWL web site:
After completing the reverse outline, write one or two paragraphs in which you describe what you noticed and what was easy or difficult about doing the outline. Did you have trouble describing how a paragraph was helping to move your essay along? If so, you may need to move things around or cut things. Did you find it necessary to use more than 5 – 10 words to accurately summarize the topic of each paragraph? If so, that might mean that you are dealing with multiple issues or ideas in a single unfocused paragraph.

Strategy 3:
On a separate sheet of paper, write a response to each of the ten revision questions on page 221 in the DK Handbook. If you are confused about what any of the questions mean or how they relate to your essay, write your questions down so we can discuss them in class.

assignment 5-1: reflective essay draft

Due: Monday, November 21 (though you can turn it in early via email if needed)

Format: Print and staple a hard copy and bring it to class.  You only need to bring one copy.

Length: As for all the essays in your final portfolio, strive for more than 3 pages. I can help you think of things to say if you are struggling.

Download possible outlines here [PDF]

Directions: Along with your two revised interpretive essays, your portfolio includes a reflective essay that rhetorically analyzes the two interpretive essays you chose. (you should not discuss any essays that are not in your final portfolio.) You can use the reflective essay for a number of purposes, but above all you should identify your own rhetorical choices (or strategies designed to affect or change readers) in both interpretive essays, and then analyze why you made those choices and how your readers might be affected. In connection, it is critical that you cite specific examples from your essays. You must quote passages from your interpretive essays in this reflective essay. Use the standard MLA citation format and include a works cited page at the end of your reflective essay. Since your final portfolios do not have your name on them anywhere, use your nine-digit student ID instead of your last name. For example:

In my essay on “The Falling Man,” I argue that Junod uses contradiction to strike the reader’s interest and also “out of respect, to avoid giving his conclusion total closure just like the families of the unidentified dead do not have closure,” as I write in my paper (991094454 3).

The “991094454” is your student ID and the “3” is the page number.

Your works cited page for the reflective essay will include citations for your own interpretive papers since that is where you are getting quotes. Your reflective essay works cited entries should look something like this, where you would fill in your own student ID and essay title:

991094450. “Your Reflective Essay Title.” University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Fall 2011. Print.

Keep in mind that this essay might help readers evaluate your portfolio. If you referenced personal experience (or if you made some other choice that seems creative, experimental, or original in some way), now is your chance to reflect on your decision and explain it to outside readers. It also a chance to direct readers’ attention to what you have done best, as well as explain weaknesses in your pieces and constraints that you faced in writing, demonstrating an awareness of your progress in the course. Throughout the reflective essay, use quotes and paraphrases to point to interpretive moments; then explain how or why you shaped those moments for your readers and how those interpretive moments caused readers to relate to you as a writer.

In this essay, you should discuss:

  • decisions you made in forming/writing your interpretations, and rationale for these decisions
    • look back at the statement of purpose you wrote for Kalman in and Neufeld (and maybe you wrote one in your notes for Junod). Given these purposes you laid out for yourself, what choices did you make in your papers? How did that understanding of your purpose and audience lead you to make specific rhetorical moves in your interpretive papers?
    • If you can discuss the purpose and thesis statement you laid out for yourself in the interpretive essays, and then if you can explain your writing choices based on that purpose and thesis, you will be on the right track with this reflective essay.
  • specific places in your interpretive papers where you are meeting the interpretive essay goals
    • Do you give summary to help readers understand what you’re talking about in your interpretations? Do you discuss problems or issues that motivated Kalman, Neufeld, or Junod to write? These are examples of how you would be meeting two of the interpretive essay goals. In your reflective essay, you would cite specific examples to demonstrate your awareness of the goals.
  • important revisions you made in the process of writing a critical interpretation
    • It would be appropriate to cite an original passage in an interpretive essay and then cite your revision of that passage, explaining how and why you made those revisions (based on your purpose and audience).
  • what individuals or groups of people might be positively affected by your writing
    • If you include Kalman in your final portfolio, would your readers learn about better nutrition from your essay? Would they feel a relationship with you through your apparent concern for child health, environment-friendly food, or whatever you focused on in your interpretation? If you include Neufeld, what would your readers learn about comics, Hurricane Katrina, or human suffering? How did you relate to those readers positively and productively?
    • Your interpretive essays are out in the world, even though only a few people have read them. How have your essays helped your classmates? How could your essays change your readers? Lastly, how could your essays make a productive, ethical impact on a wider audience outside of the writing program?

In addition to the above, you may choose to discuss:

  • challenges you faced with specific parts of the interpretive essay assignments
  • what you learned from the authors you read
  • how you look at writing differently than when the semester began
  • how your writing or writing process has changed

You should avoid comments like:

  • “I learned a lot this semester.”
  • “My teacher was so great” or “My teacher was horrible because…”
  • “Thank heavens this class is over.”
  • “Please pass my portfolio so I don’t have to take this class again.”
  • “I hope you were impressed with my essays. I worked so hard on them.”
  • “As you can see, my portfolio has improved a lot.”
  • “Clearly, I am ready for English 102.”
  • This is an essay about you and your writing. Do not interpret or extensively summarize Kalman, Neufeld, or Junod in your reflective essay.

Given the number of possible items you could address, it’s important to begin with an outline and a clear thesis statement in your reflective essay so that your writing does not sound like a long list of points in paragraph form.

back in class on Wednesday 11/16

By the end of the day on Monday, I have conferenced with all of you and you all received feedback on your Junod draft (if you wrote it). We meet again as a class on Wednesday. There is no formal homework, but you should do a few things to prepare:

  • Bring your DK Handbook and your purple Student’s Guide to class.
  • Read over all three of your essays and begin thinking about your final portfolio. You need to choose two interpretive essays. Which essays do you think are the most manageable for revision? It would be smart to actually revise one of these essays and bring a hard copy to class on Wednesday so I can give you feedback. I said that to most of you during your conference.
  • Read the handout I gave you during your conference, which is titled Reflective Essay Guidance. Your reflective essay drafts are due 11/21. Turn the paper in early if you are going to be absent on 11/21. I will give you outlines for the reflective essay in class on Wednesday.

Lastly, here is the basic citation pattern you should follow in your Works Cited pages. For Neufeld and Junod, substitute author name, title, and page range as needed.

Kalman, Maira. “Back to the Land.” First Year Composition Reader 2011-2013. Boston: Pearson, 2011. 81-127. Print.

assignment 4-5: reflecting on your writing

To be completed in class on Monday November 7. If you are absent, you should attach the Assignment 4-5 to your Junod essay (Assignment 4-4) and get both assignments to me a.s.a.p. in hard copy format.

On page 6 of the Student Guide, one of the reflective goals states that your final portfolio reflective essay will

…account for and evaluate the choices made in the interpretive essays by… considering the writer’s own composing and design strategies given the purpose, context, medium, and audience.

Given this course goal, re-read your essay drafts as they are now and write a reflective essay in which you identify your purposes, context, medium, and audience. Looking back at pages 2-11 in The DK Handbook might be helpful as you decide how to approach doing this. It may also be helpful to reference the statements of purpose your wrote for your Kalman and Neufeld essays.

Then, analyze several writing choices or composing/design strategies that you used in your writing for these essays, in light of how you identified your purposes, context, medium, and audience. Be sure to provide evidence from your own essay to support your claims; discuss specific places in your interpretive essays that serve your purposes.

assignment 4-6: peer review

Due: During your conference
Format: Email the peer review essay to your partner and copy on the email.

Here is the handout [.pdf] that explains the assignment if you were absent today (Nov. 7). Basically, in class today, you will outline some “feedback focus areas” for your peer reviewer to look at. Then, you will exchange essays. At some point before your conference, you’ll email the peer review essay that you write about your classmate’s paper.

assignment 4-4: interpreting “The Falling Man”

Due: Monday 11/7

Format: Bring two printed and stapled copies of your essay to class. Also, please bring all your past paper drafts, revision notes, and statements of purpose that you wrote for your essays.

Length: Aim for a full three pages, which is a “safe” length that you should strive to meet (or exceed) in all three of your final portfolio essays.

Directions: Using what you learned from your previous writing about Tom Junod’s magazine article “The Falling Man,” write a formal essay that pulls all the pieces together into a clear and coherent explanation of the article as a whole. How do Junod’s main strategies fit together in order to accomplish his overall purpose, given his audience and context — as you understand it? In other words, use your sense of Junod’s rhetorical situation to support the interpretation you offer.

As you write, use the quoting/paraphrasing guidelines you learned in class (download handout here) to incorporate and analyze evidence from “The Falling Man.” You can also use properly-cited evidence from class discussion and the writing of others in class to support your critical interpretation. Use this essay as a chance to demonstrate how your particular understanding of this text has been arrived at critically, so choose your supporting evidence from across the text.

In the writing you turn in, remember that you’re moving from “writing to learn” to “writing to communicate.” In part, this means you should attend to how other people might interpret the comic differently from you (and why). Write to others in a way that addresses what might matter to them. This also means that you should pay attention to the conventions that have developed over time in academic writing. Please remember the helpful overview of components of an academic essay on pages 148-149 in your DK Handbook.

Include the essay elements that we’ve been working on all semester:

  • A thesis statement that reflects your purpose and that you maintain in each paragraph of your paper
  • An introduction and a creative title (something other than the name of the assignment)
  • Ample supporting evidence in the form of direct quotes and paraphrases
  • A summary of Junod’s essay as needed to help readers understand what he’s saying and to contextualize your analysis
  • Clear sentences in the Plain Style
  • Format your paper according to MLA guidelines on page 330 in the DK Handbook. Also read this web page for a description of how to format your margins, spacing, etc. in your word processor. If you are confused about how to double space or page-number your essay automatically, please check out that link or ask me for help.
  • Correct MLA citations and a Works Cited page

    • The basic MLA format for in-text citations is on page 344 in the DK Handbook.
    • Include a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. See page 355 in the DK Handbook for an example of what this looks like. Pages 364-365 shows the Works Cited page citation for “parts of books.”

assignment 4-3: interpretive questions about “The Falling Man”

Due: Friday 11/4
Format: Leave a comment on this post
Length: Two or three questions

For this assignment, go back to your first observations, which you listed for Assignment 4-1. In class today (Nov. 2), we worked in groups to explain these observations as choices that Junod made for some reason. We asked some of the following questions to make “interpretive leaps” and come to conclusions:

  • Why did Junod do that?
  • How might that further his purpose?
  • Given what he seems concerned about in the world around him, and what he sees in his audience, why might he have chosen to do that?
  • What effects do you think this choice might have on readers?

For this assignment, develop three interpretive questions from your list of observations or from the classwork we’ve been doing.  These questions should be about some specific aspect of Junod’s text. Perhaps there is an observation that you cannot explain? Perhaps you cannot answer the question “so what?” for something on your list? Turn that into a question.

The goal of these interpretive questions is to push you and your classmates to identify choices and ask why Junod made those choices.  It is always possible that Junod did not consciously choose to do some of the things you observe in “The Falling Man,” but for now assume that he did and consider how this helps you understand his text.