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 🙂