In this Writing Workshop, we’ll be exploring & scaffolding the Unit 4: Final Portfolio & Reflection assignment together. As with the Writing Workshops for Units 1-3, I’ll be rolling out content periodically here over a few weeks, as we advance to each stage of the assignment (each week’s content is separated & labeled below).
As you know from reading the Unit 4: Final Portfolio & Reflection assignment, this final project focuses on revision & reflection. These are two things that we’ve been focusing on all semester, so you’re very prepared to be successful on Unit 4. Think of all the revision you’ve done, both on informal and formal assignments and through peer review, as well as the significant reflective writing you’ve produced with the Cover Letters for Units 1 & 2 and the Artist Statement from Unit 3. Unit 4 builds on these skills … you got this everyone!
The Final Portfolio is mandatory, with required revisions for both Unit 1 and Unit 2 (revisions for Unit 3 are optional). The good news — I fully expect everyone to strengthen this previous work through their revisions! Keep in mind that when you submitted your Education Narrative (Unit 1) back in September, you had just started college and the course. Think of all you’ve learned over the past few months, and how much you’ve grown as a writer and how much confidence and how many skills you’ve acquired. Now you get to re-visit that previous writing from this new (stronger!) place, and make it even better!
This Final Reflection is also mandatory. It is a cumulative, holistic reflection on your experiences in the course this semester, including your struggles, triumphs, and growth as a reader, writer, thinker, and student. There is no “right” way to do this, though your reflection should be a thorough and thoughtful piece of writing that that critically reflects on your growth in the course and how this semester and our work together has shaped this growth.
Below are some types on content + organization:
Although this is a personal reflection, it is not “anything goes”; it requires a significant amount of brainstorming / drafting / revision. The assignment requires you to turn a critical eye on the course (which requires you engage with it, even if you did not enjoy all aspects of it!), your experiences, and, most significantly, yourself. You will be evaluated on the completeness, complexity, specifics, and thoughtfulness of your reflections as well as the quality of your writing (e.g., organization, topic sentences, transitions, sentence-level style & correctness).
- You should write this reflective essay in the first person.
- This final assignment is reflective but it should also be driven by critical thinking and analysis (subsequent claims and evidence). Remember that the purpose of this reflection is not to merely summarize (simply report what we’ve done in class or what the texts we read are about) or to write about some idea (e.g., growth) in general, but to critically consider how your encounter with the course has influenced you.
- Keep in mind that, as in your blog posts, Perusall annotations, Class Discussions, peer review … you can’t discuss everything. Spend time choosing and focusing your ideas before you start drafting your Final Reflection.
- This Final Reflection extends the thinking and writing you have already done in class and in your blogging. Therefore, while you should of course feel free to build on what you have already written this semester in blogs or other informal writing (or what we have discussed in class), do not simply repeat what you have previously stated elsewhere.
- This Final Reflection builds from your close reading of your experiences and writing in dialogue with the course. Any discussion should stay grounded in the core reflection/discussion of your experiences this semester. As always, choose specific quotes and examples from your own writing (or other course content) that are relevant to your claims and use them in the service of supporting these ideas. Remember that each quote / example should be not only relevant but also introduced, explained and analyzed, relevant, and cited.
- Structure the Final Reflection according to your argument, avoiding mere summary, on the one hand, and the five-paragraph essay, on the other. When critically discussing your experiences in the courses, you should structure your essay according to your thesis (your argument about your growth in this class), not necessarily according to the order of the experiences or course content themselves. You can describe but you must also analyze and provide argument (make meaning out of those descriptions and analyses).
- Your Final Reflection should include: a focused Introduction paragraph; body paragraphs that provide additional claims (topic sentences) and specific, concrete details and examples in support of both these claims and your overall thesis (do not keep repeating the same idea over and over again in different ideas); logical connections / transitions among sentences, paragraphs, and ideas (claims); a concluding paragraph.
- Follow the Assignments: Formatting, Guidelines, and Submission expectations, and the helpful tips/strategies provided below and the materials under Writing Resources.
Grading + Deadlines
First, I want to be super-duper (duper!) clear about the deadline. It is on Tuesday, December 20th (by 11:59pm), and it is a hard deadline. I know I’ve been able to offer you extensions in the past on Units 1-3, but I don’t have that luxury this time around. Faculty have to submit grades to the college just a few days after the semester ends, so 12/20 is non-negotiable. If you do not submit by the deadline to the Dropbox link on the Schedule, you will receive no credit for the work. Late assignments will not be accepted.
A few words on grading, to clarify how Unit 4 factors into your overall course grade. This Final Reflection takes the place of a final exam, and asks you to synthesize and critically describe / evaluate your experiences, efforts, and growth in the course. It counts as 10% of your overall course grade.
As for the Final Portfolio, the super-duper (duper!) good news is that if you earn a better grade on your revision (which I anticipate you will, if you put in the time, effort, and care to revise well), that is the grade that sticks. So, for example, if you earned a B- on your Unit 1 final draft, but your Unit 1 revision for this assignment earns an A, then you get the A. It completely overrides the previous grade. That means that you can significantly increase your course grade by 40% (because Unit 1 & 2 were each worth 20%). This is my way of rewarding those of you who worked consistently this semester — I told you to trust in and commit to the process … it really works!
Of course, the flip side of this is true too: if you don’t submit a revision or completely blow it off and only change a few typos, your grade can go down too (and that is the grade that sticks).
*Note: revisions are only accepted for previously submitted work. So if you missed an assignment, you can’t revise it at this point. The Final Portfolio showcases revision, process, and progress (not last-minute submissions of long overdue work). trusted in and committed to the process.
If you missed one of these assignments (Unit 1 or Unit 2), please see me ASAP in my Office Hours to discuss your situation and options for moving forward. Please note that if you missed two major assignments (Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3) it will not be possible to pass the course at this point.
Engage & Receive Support
Once you’ve read through this week’s Writing Workshop content, drop a comment below with any questions or comments, and to share how your plan for working on Unit 4 through early next week (this is required by 12pm on F 12/9).
Friendly reminder that I’ve pushed back the first draft of the Final Reflection to mid-next week (you’re welcome!) to give you more time to review all your previous work and to draft new content, but that means you should be making good use of this weekend to make significant progress (there is only one more weekend after this one before the deadline!).
As always, I’m here to help and support you with your portfolios & reflection. If you would like to discuss your revisions or reflection draft, drop in to one of my Office Hours (I’ll be offering a few additional Pop-Up options before the end of the semester too, to give you more options to come see me). It’s been so lovely to have so many of you come to see me this semester to conference — I welcome you to continue doing so as we move through this final push of the semester 🙂
Thanks to those of you who submitted your first draft of the Final Reflection this week — hoping Peer Review on those drafts goes well! I also was glad to see your Unit 4 Progress Posts roll through. Some of you could definitely use some more clarity & specificity in your plans for revision. I encourage you to re-visit the Time Management resources & tips in the Week 13 Class Discussion to help you plan realistically for finishing up this project.
Additional Revision Notes
Please note, too, that in terms of the new drafts of your previous Units 1 & 2, your revision should be substantial. Everyone has lots of room for improvement, and while I provided detailed feedback for you on your work, of course I could not address everything that could be improved. So turn your own critical eye back on your own writing, using all the skills you’ve learned this semester, and really work on that revision!
Speaking of substantive revision, you also want to make sure that the final draft of your Final Reflection is thoroughly updated to reflect all the revisions and progress you made as you work to revise & create your Final Portfolio. This means that you should return to your Final Reflection again and again (writing is a process!), and revise it thoroughly even after your Unit 1 and 2 Revisions are done.
Additional Helpful Resources
Consult these resources to support you in Unit 4:
- Portfolio presentation (from Professor Carrie Hall, City Tech’s Director of First Year Writing)
- Here is a Reflection Planning document, to help you as you revise your prior work for your Portfolio and to incorporate the work you did for those revisions into your Final Reflection:
- Definitely go back and revisit your blog post (from Week 2!) that you wrote to your end-of-the-semester self. It’s wild to think about, but you are now that end-of-the-semester self that you wrote to (you are both author and intended audience!). See how far you’ve come!
- Review the Plagiarism resources provided earlier this semester (see both the Schedule and Syllabus for more details). Note: any material that is plagiarized automatically receives a zero and will be reported to the college (as required by college policy). If you have any questions about plagiarism, please see me in my Office Hours to discuss.
Key Unit 4 Details & Logistics
Last week’s Workshop material (Week 16) here had a lot of important content about logistics too, so please take time to review that. Below are some additional details about wrapping up Unit 4:
- For Unit 4, you are submitting three distinct files to the Dropbox link on the Schedule page (more, if you choose to include the optional Unit 3 Revision): 1) Final Reflection; 2) Unit 1 Revision; 3) Unit 2 Revision. [note: each of these files has multiple components — keep on reading for more details!]
- The Final Reflection should be substantive (1000-1500 words).
- Include a Cover Letter for your Final Reflection that describes in detail your draft / revision process (Note: as always, Cover Letters are required but don’t count towards the assignment word count).
- For Unit 1 and Unit 2, make sure to include: 1) a paragraph (aka, a new Cover Letter) that describes in detail your revisions for this final (final) draft of the Unit; 2) your previous grade / my written feedback on the assignment (copy/paste this directly over from OpenLab Gradebook); 3) the new Final (final) draft of the Unit; 4) the previous Final Draft (that you submitted earlier the semester). The order should be as listed above. Including all these items (and clearly labeling them) helps me immensely to evaluate your work as process and portfolio, as well as the quality of your revisions. *Portfolios that do not include all FOUR of these items — 1) Cover Letter; 2) prior grade/my feedback; 3) new Final Draft; 4) previously submitted final draft — will not be accepted.
- As for the “paragraph” at the beginning of each revised Unit, this is basically a new Cover Letter. But it should be solely focused on the revisions you did for this final draft. The Cover Letter paragraph should be substantive, and must directly address the changes you made, and my written feedback and any conferences with me. Of course, you are welcome to write more than one paragraph (and I encourage it!). These Cover Letters are a crucial (and empowered/empowering!) part of your Final Portfolio: in them, you are guiding me through the Portfolio, and the more you can show me and highlight your intentional and thoughtful revisions, the better it will be all-around. If I have to scour both drafts and look for teeny changes here or there, that will be much more difficult (and, trust me, less successful for you!).
- The Unit 4 Final Draft will be submitted via Dropbox. The Dropbox link will go live on Monday, 12/19 on the Schedule for Week 18. I really want everyone to take all the time provided to work on revisions and the reflection: if you think you’re done, put the work away for a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes. And definitely, give everything an additional read through (at least 1x, but ideally 2-3x), reading aloud slowly to edit and proofread. This is a good way to catch sentence-level errors, and to do final polishing of your work. These little details matter … remember, you want to put forward the best version of yourself and your work!
- You will submit multiple files to the Dropbox link for Unit 4, all clearly-labeled and as Word documents: the Final Reflection, Unit 1 Revision (mandatory), Unit 2 revision (mandatory), Unit 3 (revision optional). Make sure each file has all required components (see details above)
Engage & Receive Support
Please note that my final Office Hour of the Fall 2022 semester will be a Pop-Up Office Hour this coming Monday (12/19), 10:00-11:00am. It’s listed on the Schedule (for Week 18) already, and I want to give you a heads-up here so that if you want to come to see me to discuss anything about your work in the course, you should plan ahead.
I’m happy to discuss drafts and revisions in my Office Hours, but it will not be possible to provide written feedback at this late date (e.g., over email). So if you want additional feedback, come see me on Monday 10:00-11:00am, or on Thursday (12/15) in this week’s regularly scheduled Office Hour (11:30am-12:30pm).
Required Comments by 12pm (noon) on Friday, 12/16: Any questions at all, about anything related to Unit 4. Now is the time to ask them, so use the space below for that. If you don’t have any questions, then in a comment simply confirm you’ve read and reviewed everything related to Unit 4 and you’re good to go.
Thanks all, and happy revising 🙂
I have 2 questions, Would we write the reflection on a separate doc? And and we are revising we can just access our old doc and go from there correct?
Thanks for the questions Tahani. Yes, the Final Reflection will be submitted as a separate file. In terms of the revisions for Units 1 and 2, yes, you should start from the final (submitted) draft of each Unit and then work on revisions from there. Make sure, though, to save each revision as a separate document (clearly labeled), as you’ll need to turn in both versions (the original submitted version and this new revision) as part of your Portfolio, to show the progress you’ve made.
*I’ll provide more details about submission (the Dropbox link, format, etc.) next week in the Week 17 part of this workshop.
My plan for this Unit will be simple. I will start by looking back at Units 1-2 and reading them over. Taking any feedback I got from those assignments and make changes that best fit.
The plans I have for my unit 4 assignment I can simply revise from my unit 1 to 2 assignments just so I would have an idea of what I started with first in terms of topics and certain ideas I had before this way I’ll be able to create a clear introduction piece for my reflection itself and explain how it came about as an idea.
For my previous assignments, I will utilize the feedback I was given and do my best to make adjustments accordingly. For my Unit 4 Assignment, I’m not sure yet, but I plan to start a loose outline or a quick overview pretty soon just to break up the work.
I am planning on having my sisters read and comment on my writings so I can revise based on their feedback. When revising myself I will go through my papers multiple times each to pinpoint specific things, The last reading made me realize I can find more things to alter this way as I am looking for specific errors or faults.
A question I have, is there any way to see our grades for the previous assignments. I am not sure if it only me but I have not been able to see my grades for any of the work I have done so far? Seeing my grades would help me to know how much you (Prof. Belli) feel I could improve upon my writing.
Hi Neal, yes, of course! Please do make sure you view (and utilize) all the feedback I’ve been giving you! You can view grades and detailed written feedback for all major assignments in the OpenLab Gradebook (where all grades have been posted this semester). You can access the Gradebook via the dashboard (look in the top of the lefthand menu), or from the link in the right sidebar of the course site homepage.
I intend on using the new information I learned while working on unit 3 to try and revise my pieces for unit 1 and 2.
I am good to go! Finishing my final couple of revisions and getting them ready to submit.
Should the cover letter be its own doc? Other than that Ive read the new post.
Do you mean the Cover Letter for the Final Reflection? As with prior units, it should be at the start of the same file.
Hi Professor Belli! My only question is if there are any other specific requirements for this final project? If so, can you please tell me?
Not that I haven’t already shared here (or elsewhere). If you have something particular in mind, though, please feel free to ask.
So far I have my revision for unit 1 and unit 2 piece and my reflection piece however I’m still deciding and what else I should add
For additional clarity, I added a new note about the three files you need to submit to Dropbox for Unit 4 by tomorrow night. Look for the highlighted bullet point in Week 17 under “Key Details & Logistics.”