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Ellie Ostler
Fall 2014
Ms. Ingram
November 17, 2014
Composing is like art. It allows for the freedom of expression but requires a certain
amount of knowledge to complete a piece of work. Art is to be taken as it is given; in other
words, it reflects the individual who created it and should be viewed with an open mind to invite
in what someone else is trying to express. I made my portfolio with the intention to express
myself and describe my transition into college through my first semester writing class. I chose art
as the theme for my portfolio because although the only art I am good at is drawing an
occasional doodle in my notes when I get distracted in class, I am intrigued by the beauty of art.
As I began creating my portfolio I thought that because I have a better knack at appreciating art
than creating it, I designed my writing as an art gallery. My writing may not be the best, but it is
an accurate reflection of who I am. That is why I relate it to art. I designated a painting for each
page which represents, in a way, an event in my time line of writing over the semester; each
piece of writing ties into the theme of its pages painting (at the bottom of every page is a
description of why that painting was chosen).
For my lack of ability to describe my first semester of college as anything other than
something horribly clich, I honestly have learned a lot over this semester about myself and who
I am as a writer. Besides, this is college. This is the time of our lives when we find ourselves and
discover what were going to make of ourselves. In my final blog post we were assigned to write
about how we were going to begin our e portfolios and our final portfolio essay. By using

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chronological order, from the pieces I wrote in the beginning of the semester to now, I will best
be able to display my story of the semester in how I have transformed my writing throughout the
past few weeks.

Literacy Narrative:
The theme of this page for my first essay assignment as a college student was to write a

literacy narrative. I was nervous at the thought of writing for my professor and peers. This was
something everyone was going to read and I had so little experience. I then realized, all of my
peers are probably in the same position as me; however, my professor has taught hundreds of
students that were probably all much more advanced writers than me. I decided to do what I
knew best and follow the cookie cutter high school format of writing: main idea, evidence,
analysis, and link it back. Literacy is when we become self-aware and gain the ability to express
ourselves to others through our reading and writing. My literacy has transformed over the years
from the events, the people, and the schooling that influenced me throughout my life. When I
wrote my first draft for this first essay, it was so formal and generalized that anyone could have
written that paper. Of course I didnt realize this then. I walked into class with my freshly printed
first draft and started our first peer workshop. It was pretty nerve-racking to say the least. After
our first peer workshop, Ms. Ingram told us that we were going to have to write another 3 pages
of new material. After a few glares and groans, Ms. Ingram suggested for us to take an entirely
different approach to our second draft. Our second draft was supposed to be a story of an event
described from our first draft. Sure, it sounded easy enough. The only problem was we had to
describe a narrow focused story. At most, we could describe five minutes of our lives explained
in a three to five page story.
o Brainstorming:

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To help put us on the right track, Ms. Ingram had the entire class close their eyes for one
of our warm ups in class. We were to think of our moment chosen for our second draft and see
it. We were told to see the moment and think of key sensory details that we could later add to
our stories. This was the first moment in my writing experience that I was allowed to express
what I thought and to be creative with my writing. I felt like a little kid shoving my hands into
paint and slapping it onto paper as the descriptive details flowed out of my brain like paint from
a bottle.
I have written many essays in the past but I have never had the freedom to depict a memory in
the form of a story. It felt like a masterpiece; rather than following guidelines of writing a thesis
and arguing a side I could focus on the sensory details to make whomever read my essay feel like
they were in the story. Once the door was opened a rush of smells danced out the door as a gust
of wind escaped from the enclosed room and brushed against our tiny faces. The room had that
specific type of smell that you cannot decide if it smelled bad from the passing of sweaty
children, or good from sugar tainted breath and the aroma of crayons and pencil shavings. Either
way, the smell was overtaking and took me to the mindset to learn, work hard, and have fun as
whenever something is associated with a kindergarten classroom. It was interesting to
remember this scenario and make one of my memories a story. Although I am a perfectionist and
try to put the most effort into everything I do -which has its ups and downs- I found the second
and final draft of this essay easier to write than the painstaking first draft with no personality.
One of the main changes I made when revising was adding similes and metaphors to better
describe how I felt in the story rather than just putting quotations or descriptions. For instance,
instead of me describing how I was nervous, I wrote, It was like there were drums in my chest
that pulsed through my body as my heartbeat began to quicken.

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The theme of this page is fire and water. The time midterms hit was when I noticed the most
change in my writing. For this class, we were assigned to reflect on the first half of the semester
and rhetorically analyze the choices we made in our writing. We were given several topics that
needed to be mentioned in our midterms. When I read the requirements for our midterms I was
worried about analyzing what I had done over the first half of the semester. However, once I
started writing, I simply remembered my way of thinking from previous assignments and
compared that to how I was writing my midterm. One of the topics required for us to discuss in
our midterms were the nine key concepts of this course. Some of the most difficult of the nine
key concepts are thinking critically and independent inquiry. These concepts would also be
considered as getting out of my comfort zone which is another key concept. []Now that we
are in college, we have the freedom to do more with the tasks given to us. This freedom allows
us to think critically and make connections on our own which can be difficult at times because
we are retraining our brains to think in a new way. I honestly found the midterm to be a fairly
simple task once I became intrigued with how I was beginning to change as a writer.
o Chapter 24:
Chapter 24, I Am Not a Writer, I Am a Good Writer by Joe Quatrone, from our
textbook was the chapter I chose to read for our readers choice reading response letter (RRL
#5). In my RRL #5 I wrote, I started analyzing and critiquing the chapter before even reading
the first sentence. So many questions ran through my mind. Why is the title a run on sentence?
I flipped through the chapter to notice it was only two pages long- which is probably the shortest

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piece of writing in the entire textbook. I thought, How could this person cover such a broad
concept in such few words?
Reading this chapter was a major turning point in the semester for me. It was so strange
to me that it forced me to analyze my own writing to realize I have all I need to be a good writer.
As I previously stated and soon began to realize, writing is a form of self-expression. Good
writers just let their minds roam freely without limitations. Letting your imagination free and
expressing it to the world is what writing is about. Rather than writing solely for my peers or my
professor, I needed to realize I am the writer permitted to express myself. This is exactly what
Joe Quatrone demonstrated in this chapter.
o Reading Response Letter #5 (RRL#5):
My RRL#5 shows my internal process of decoding chapter 24. I believe it is a true
representation of exactly what I was feeling as I read the chapter. Towards the end of the
chapter Quatrone wrote, Its that one thing that any reader can identify with and understand on
an emotional level. I realized that rather than just coming out and giving the reader a list of tips
and tricks for writing [] He demonstrated that writing can be intriguing without a hootietootie voice and in order to be a good writer you simply need to be relatable and write what is
on your mind without worrying about how it is supposed to be. I chose to include this in my
portfolio because it shows my thought process in my writing. By doing this, it also shows how I
began to get out of my comfort zone and express what I was thinking in my writing.
o Lab Report:
During the semester, we were assigned to read the article The Case for Conversational
Writing by Rob Jenkins for blog post #4. In this post I wrote, When Jenkins mentioned, the
difference between academic and conversational prose and the irrational bias so many writing

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teachers have in favor of the former I realized why I struggle so much with most of my writing.
[] I find it very difficult to write as if I am carrying on a conversation (which is required for
over 90% of my writing assignments today). My chemistry lab report is the perfect example of
academic prose. It basically is a detailed description of what was done in the experiment; except
it is explained by removing the person actually doing the experiment. As Jenkins mentioned, this
is one of those cases in which you cant use personal pronouns or start a sentence with a
conjunction, etc. I found this interesting to include in my portfolio because at the same time I
wrote this lab report in academic prose for my midterm in chemistry lab, I was writing my
midterm in conversational writing for my midterm in UWRT 1101. These two pieces of writing
were ironic to include once I realized how opposite these two assignments were-like fire and
water-but that they are both a representation of my writing. In other words, I have grown to
become a more versatile writer: a generalized formal writer for how I was taught in high school
and a conversationally writer that takes risks for how I have been taught this semester.
o Midterm Feedback:
The feedback from Ms. Ingram for midterms gave me the validation I needed to ensure that I
could still go a little out of my comfort zone while meeting the requirements for each
assignment. One day in class we read the article From Degrading to De-Grading by Alfie
Kohn. This article describes the harmful effects of teaching students to work for the grade rather
than expanding intellect and being able to apply what students are taught. Kohn mentions, The
evidence indicates that the real problem isnt grade inflation; its grades. The proper occasion
for outrage is not that too many students are getting As, but that too many students have
accepted that getting As is the point of going to school. In my midterm, I mentioned how I
enjoyed our practically grade-free classroom because, as Kohn described, it allows students to

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become more engaged with the material rather than just regurgitating information. I feel that this
atmosphere also contributed to my ability to further feel comfortable to add more personality to
my writing.

Portrait of a Writer:

The theme of this page is that my writing is unique like my own literary fingerprint. In this
essay I wrote, Writing requires the ability to become well enough in tune with ourselves to
display our personality in a way for the world to see; it is a form of self-expression unique to
each individual. After reflecting over the semester, I found that I have my own writing style.
This entire process from prompt to final draft really depicts who I am as a writer and what
thought process I go through each time I sit down to write an essay.
o Prompt:
For each essay I always print the draft (unless it is given) and mark it up to make sure I
have answered each question that was asked. Because I like to plan, I tend to get lost in my head
most of the time. I have learned to stop myself before I end up staring at the prompt for far too
long; I tend to get caught up trying to figure out what the end result is going to be like rather than
taking things one step at a time. For this essay in particular, I found it difficult to include every
answer in an essay format that made chronological sense as well as flowed well together so as
not to seem like a bunch of answers smashed together and thrown in a paper arbitrarily.
o Draft 1:
For me, drafts are like sketches to paintings. Theyre the ugly scribbles to outline where
the beautiful colors are supposed to be. There were two pieces of writing that had the most
influence on my Portrait of a writer writing process. In the article Simplicity William Zinsser

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states that, The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. The
second piece of writing was Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott which advises to Just get it
all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would
never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. After reading these articles, I took the
advice given and applied it to my own process. As I mentioned earlier, I am a perfectionist and
like to plan which can be a dangerous combination when trying to start writing a shitty first draft.
In my final draft I further describe this process: I have learned to work with my chaos and
randomness; I just get down the basic information with a few goals to meet then add personality
and thought to make it entertaining. After that, I go back through and organize everything. This
is my own unique writing process; it might not work for everyone, but I found that this works
best for me.
o Draft 2:
After getting down the pages of straight forward answers to questions in an essay format,
I could go back to fill in those ugly scribbles with color and personality to make this bland blob
of writing into my essay that just bursts my personality. At the same time, I figured that this was
one of my last opportunities to try multimodality and different styles of writing. I mean what the
heck, it was one of the last essays of the semester, I might as well go a little crazy and step out of
my comfort zone. By the end of my paper, I managed to include multimodality, different
appeals, and other writing tricks taught over the semester. I finally got out of my comfort zone
(as described in the key concept section of my midterm and in the midterm description above)
and saw my work as my own that could reflect who I am as a writer.
o Feedback:

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The feedback from my peers and professor was what really pushed me to grow as a
writer. I would add subtle hints of personality in each essay- which seemed so strange to me
since I had not done this in the past- and was told that was the readers favorite part of my essay.
As this became a progressive trend over the semester, I finally gathered up the guts to let my
imagination run wild to intertwine my self-expressive stories and descriptions throughout my
portrait of a writer essay. I also further describe this in my final draft: By accepting that my
creative streak is hidden in between my sporadic thoughts, my writing process has changed from
organized structured cut and dry paragraphs to just going crazy with my writing.
o Warm-Up:
In class one day, we were assigned to critique our second portrait of a writer drafts and ask
ourselves what we would like to change. After reading the same generalized descriptions that I
have grown so comfortable to use when writing, I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and
change as a writer from being a generalized, academic prose writer, to a writer that can express
what was trapped in my head. This warm-up also helped me realize that I was ready to change
and grow as a writer.
As my final major essay of the semester, I felt like I had the best grasp of who I have
become as a writer. The final draft of Fingerprints is my favorite because I spent the most time
on this essay overall compared to previous essays; I saw this essay as the showpiece of how I
have changed over the semester. It describes not only who I was as a writer but it details specific
aspects of me as a writer today.

Blogs #1-6:

The blog portion of my portfolio is where I not only thought about what I was writing and
learning throughout the class, but how I apply it to other things in life (such as articles by various

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authors which is what most of the blog assignments consisted of). The blog assignments were
meant for us to write freely our own thoughts and opinions about various topics. Although I
honestly did not have blog posts as a priority to try my hardest and decided to try and get each
blog assigned over with quickly, each time I would end up getting lost in an article and trying to
relate to what the author was trying to say; its probably because of my ADD or instinct to listen
intently whenever someone speaks- or in this case, when someone writes conversationally- that I
became intrigued by each article and ended up spending at least an hour on each blog post. In the
final blog post we were assigned to reflect on our blog page as a whole. While looking through
my previous blogs, I compared my thoughts from previous weeks displayed in my blogs to my
thoughts now when writing. In the beginning of blog posts, I can tell I tried to branch out by
adding some of my personality in my writing. [] As I read through the rest of my blogs, I was
glad to see how I have tried to improve on what I was so worried about struggling with
throughout the semester. All of the blogs I have written for this class coincide with the essays I
have written over the semester. It is interesting to go back and read how I reflected on different
pieces of writing over the semester. As I reread each of my blog posts, I noticed something new
in each of them. In the first few blogs I attempted to write conversationally. In the next few, I
quoted myself adding thoughts and feelings. In my final few blogs, I demonstrated what I have
learned from the semester and how I have learned to get out of my comfort zone, think critically,
and analyze what is assigned. It is basically a condensed portfolio in itself that depicts how I
have grown over the semester from a generalized writer to a writer with the ability to be more

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My experience in my first writing class as a college student was like I have been painting
in black and white my whole life and was just introduced to painting with color. I feel myself
making better decisions and becoming more of an adult every day. After all I have learned over
the semester, I believe I should receive an A as my grade for this class. I honestly believe I put
forth a great amount of effort because, at the beginning of the semester, I set a goal for myself to
become a better writer. Its a part of my nature to make the best out of each situation and forcing
myself to take chances for the available opportunities in life. I may not be the best writer, but my
e-portfolio is an example of how much I have grown as a writer in just a few short months.
One of my teachers in high school described rising college students as deep sea fish.
There is so much pressure at the bottom of the ocean- like the stress put on new college studentsif a deep sea fish tries to swim to the surface too fast, it blows up from the drastic release of
pressure. College has been stressful and the pressure to grow up while conquering mass amounts
of work is unreal. My portfolio describes my experience through my work and shows how I have
improved and developed throughout this class. Although these past few months have placed a lot
of pressure on me, I had a few scares, but I havent blown up yet; so I think I can say I have had
a pretty successful semester.