7th-Grade English Portfolio
My Portfolio Reflection
How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year and how would you describe it now?
I think that at the beginning of the year I just went by the basics of what prompts suggested, the ones that Ms. Ellis wrote out for us. Now I am able to go further and express my ideas more clearly. I can expand from something given to me and make it something that's more my own.
What do you consider your writing strengths?
I think that I can connect sentences well and combine my ideas smoothly, which can be very useful for creative and fictional writing. I also enjoy using strong word choice to add emotion to my compositions.
What writing skills do you need and/or what to continue to develop next year?
I think that I could work on my informative and non-fiction writing. Sometime it leans toward the fictional side when I use too many adjectives and descriptions. I think I could also work on sticking to the point and making my writing crisp and to the point.
What piece of writing from this year best captures your growth as a writer and thinker?
I think that my essay about the Giver showed my growth as a writer best. It lacks sentence variation, but it was written closer to the beginning of the year. If I compare it with my Holocaust diary entry, I can see the difference with my fiction and non-fiction work, and see my growth as a writer.
What piece of writing from this year are you most proud of?
I am proud of the Holocaust letters that I wrote to my partner from the high school class. I think that I expressed my thoughts well and put my knowledge of the Holocaust into fictional accounts of life around my character. I also really enjoyed receiving letters from an older, more experienced writer.
Giver Essay: Utopia or Dystopia?
The world in The Giver by Lois Lowry is a utopia because everything is equal, and everyone can live comfortably and peacefully.
Jonas’ society is fair because everything is the same, and everyone gets the essentials to live free of cost. The people are controlled in a way without worry or trouble. As Jonas is watching the ceremony of Nines from his place in the audience, Lowry writes, “Jonas could see them applauding dutifully as the Nines, one by one wheeled their new bicycles, each with its gleaming nametag attached to the back from the stage” (44). The author describes just one example of how fair and equal everything is in Jonas’ community. Every child is given the same opportunity and chance to prove themselves. Whether it is insignificant or not, it’s equal. Everyone deserves to be happy, and in this way the people in the Giver are lucky for what they have. Between the ceremony, the Narrator explains how Jonas and his friends spend their break: “He and his groupmates congregated by the tables in front of the auditorium and took their packaged food” (45). It is not stated explicitly, but Lowry writes about how food is given to every child and adult. Jonas’ community does not have a system of currency, and nobody works to earn a living. Everything, from a home to food on the table every day is provided.. Nobody worries about being unable to give their child dinner after a long day of work, or spending their nights on the street. In this way, everyone feels safe and comfortable, and that is how everyone deserves to feel.
In summary, Jonas and his friends do not realize it, but they are lucky to be living in their community. In the real world, people struggle to support their families and starve because they are unable to pay for food. People call the streets their home because they don’t have one of their own. Jonas is provided with food and water every day, and a warm house to come back to. It may not be paradise, but it’s closer than it seems.
Holocaust Diary Entry:
I have extreme sympathy for you and your family. I can relate to your situation, for I am dealing with it as I write. If you had described your story only two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been able to grasp the magnitude of your troubles, but now they are clear; clear as crystal.
Thirteen days prior to this day, I headed to school as I always do, only to be sent home by the principal. He and several other teachers were lined up in front of the school, and I caught a glimpse of smashed windows and broken bricks on the ground before I left. I wondered what could have happened to cause such damage. Instead of returning home, I turned around and headed to the grocery shop to help the shopkeeper with his duties. I figured he would be pleased that I could help with extra hours, since he has not been pleased with me lately, I don’t understand why. As I approached the shop, I could not hear the usual tinkling of the shop bells, or the clinking of metal coins rubbing against one another. In fact, the entire street, one of the most lively in town, was deserted and quiet. I continued to walk briskly until I felt a sharp pain in my foot. I sat down in pain and extracted a shard of glass from my thin sandals, now stained with blood. I walked precautiously, since the ground was littered with tiny bits of glass, until I reached the shop.
The intricate sign that read שוק יהודי, (Jewish Marketplace) was smashed in two and lay dejectedly on the concrete. The windows were smashed open and a sideways, x-shaped symbol was painted cruelly in red on the splintering wooden door. I gaped through the window at the rotting fruit lying squished on the stained tiled floor. The owner was nowhere to be found, so I turned around and ran home, utterly bewildered. On the walk home, I passed by rows and rows of destroyed and vandalized shops. Shattered glass lay across the concrete street and I hopped between the shards, trying to avoid them.
Now, I thought to myself as I made my way back, Mama and Papa will have to work extra hard until I can find myself another job. I feared what would happen to our family.
I arrived home just in time for dinner to find three place settings on the floor. Adam and Mama gestured for me to occupy the third, and I questioned where Papa was. A tear escaped Mama’s hazel eyes, and I ran with fear to the bedroom. There Papa sat, staring blankly at the wall. I could not speak, my mouth was frozen. Our eyes locked and I saw the sadness in his normally vibrant green eyes. Neither of us spoke, he simply clutched a shard of window glass, and I understood. I reached on the shelf and picked up a pair of blackened torn shoes that had not been there before. I ran my finger along the carefully hammered sole and the leather stitch lines, the first shoes my father had made when he was only thirteen. I later discovered it was the only pair my father had managed to salvage from the shop.
I brought my father my dinner, telling him I wasn’t hungry, but he set the plate down and gestured for me to sit next to him. I sat, and he explained, about the x-shaped figure that was known as a swastika, about the Nazis, and about the danger our family was in. I did not need to explain about the grocery shop, I could tell by his somber expression that he already knew. I learned that my mother had not lost her job, that the Aryan family she served still needed someone to wash their dishes and fold their linens. I began to cry as my father explained about the Nazis, and I screamed my hatred for them.
“What did we ever do to them! It’s not fair,” I repeated, “It’s just not fair,”
But my father said we must not hate them, we must hope for the best.
“We will be all right, Dalia,” My father wiped a tear from my cheek and attempted a smile. “It will be okay.”
What will happen to us? I sobbed that night into my pillow. Will we be thrown out onto the streets because we cannot pay our rent? Will Adam and I be slaves for the rest of our lives? My hunger was drowned by worry, and I lay awake unsettled all night, gazing blankly at the ceiling.
I have so many questions, I only wish I could answer them. I hope you are doing better, and your family, too.
Love as always,