Jevan Y.

7th Grade English Portfolio

My Portfolio Reflection

1. How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year and how would you describe it now?

At the beginning of the year, I was a pretty solid writer, however, I definitely lacking some skills. Most of the mains ones I was able to fix this year, but some remain not very developed. My main improvement this year was literary analysis. I hadn't worked on it much before and I learned a lot about it this year. Although I advanced my skill in this area, I still have a lot of work to do!

2. What do you consider your writing strengths? Explain.

Persuasive writing and my ability to write fluidly are among my writing strengths. As far as persuasive, I have developed good techniques to switch their opinions. These methods include adding facts, using prognostication, and having a strong rebuttal against the counterargument. Over the course of the past two years, I have worked on "gluing" my pieces of writing using different strategies. It makes my writing sound better and make better sense.

3. What writing skills do you need and/or want to continue to develop next year? Explain.

Some skills in writing I would like to improve on include not being able to get the point soon enough as well as . I tend to write extra in order to convey my idea. However, when I try to get around this, it seems that the writing becomes too direct.

4. What piece of writing from this year best captures your growth as a writer and thinker? Explain why.

My Hero's Journey Essay. This is because I was able to incorporate a lot of things I had wanted to work on at the beginning of the year. Before, I couldn't properly use as many strategies as I can now, and I think this essay captures my growth best. The essay is under "Artifact 1".

5. What piece of writing from this year are you most proud of? Explain why.

Although it is not an English essay, I am pretty proud of my historical fiction book report in social studies. In English class, we spent time learning how to write proper summaries and critiques. I feel like a did a good job with not only these, but also with explaining the historical events briefly. All of these put together was what I think is my best writing of the year. The report is under "Artifact 2".

Artifact #1

In order to be a hero, the following characteristics are necessary: the ability to sense when something is wrong, extreme bravery, and the power to recover from devastating events. The Outsiders is a novel about Ponyboy and his best friend Johnny who are in the Greaser gang. But when Johnny kills Bob, a member of the rival gang, life for both of them becomes a matter of running away from the cops, Socs, and in Ponyboy’s case, Darry. This book by S.E. Hinton is a monomyth because the novel is structured as a hero’s journey.

Following the “Initiation” stage of the hero’s journey, Ponyboy experiences the “Return to Everyday Life” when he decides what to write his essay about. Mr. Syme, Ponyboy’s English teacher, assigns a final essay that is worth almost everything to Ponyboy’s grade. He cannot think of anything to write about, until he realizes how his small area’s poor situation is probably similar to many other places in the country. Ponyboy then calls up Mr. Syme:

      “Mr. Syme, this is Ponyboy. That theme - how long can it be?”

      “Why, uh, not less than five pages.” He sounded a little surprised. I’d forgotten it was late at night.

      “Can it be longer?”

      “Certainly, Ponyboy, as long as you want it.” (179)

In The Outsiders, Ponyboy’s gift to the community is his own experience as a boy growing up in a gang in the form of an essay. His conversation with Mr. Syme implies that Ponyboy has so much to write about on this subject that it can’t even fit onto five pages. In his essay, he plans to guide boys in the right direction so that they don’t end up being like Dally, now dead. People who jumped at their shadows, people who watched sunsets and desired a better life, people who quickly judged a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore - these are all examples of the boys across the country that Ponyboy’s referring to. Ponyboy believes that if someone doesn’t tell these boys soon enough, it will be too late to act at all. He feels that if people communicate their experiences, others will learn. It is unclear how far Ponyboy will end up spreading this message - but he evidently wants it to go as far as possible.

In conclusion, Ponyboy’s experiences follow the path of the hero’s journey. He experiences the Return to Everyday Life to finish off his travels and make his journey complete. He hopes his gift of an essay will influence boys across the country. The Outsiders is no outlier in the world of stories; the hero’s journey plot idea is present (in some form) in most stories - from the most complicated books to kids movies.

Artifact #2

Against the Tide by John F. Hanley

Plot Summary

18-year-old Jack Renouf is a nationally ranked swimmer from the British Isle of Jersey looking to go to the Berlin Olympics. But then, there’s “the Dutchman” - Jack’s arch nemesis and number one competitor in both athletics and leisure lives. While competing with him in swimming, water polo, and girls, politics of the uprising Nazi Germany comes into play. Jack is guided by his uncle, the well-known communist, “Red” Fred, and is exposed to a world of violence, greed, hate, and politics right as the turmoil of World War II begins. While doing this, he connects the Dutchman to a diamond theft on an international scale, causing more questions and concerns. Then, as secrets are uncovered and lies are revealed, life for everyone is changed and no one can trust anyone.

Historical Event(s)

World War II, abbreviated as WW2, was the second world war, fought between the Allied forces (Poland, Great Britain, France, Soviet Union, British Commonwealth, and the U.S.) and the Axis forces (Germany, Japan, Italy, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria). It began for multiple reasons including Japan’s hope to take over China, as well as the breaking of the Treaty of Versailles. The bombings of Pearl Harbor added the U.S. and more countries into the war.

The island of Jersey, a Channel Isle, is and was a British Crown Dependency; a self-governing possession of the British Crown. But after the Allied defeat in France, Winston Churchill declared that Jersey was of no strategic importance and should therefore not be defended. Although Nazi Germany did not know this information immediately, they were able to capture the island on July 1st, 1940. Less than 5 years later, on May 9th, 1945, HMS Beagle, a British destroyer, appeared at Jersey and the Germans surrendered immediately. However, the German Occupation and so on occurred after this book ends.\

About the Character

Jack, the main character, is a curious and industrious character. Being eighteen, he is also a classic teenager; fighting with his parents, having two different girlfriends, et cetera. He is always up for an adventure, including the big one he decides to take because of his uncle. Jack always puts thought into decisions, however, he can easily be swayed by other factors, which cause issues in the book. Also, he is a pretty dramatic kid in the sense that when he finds secrets, he always overreacts.

My Critique

To start, this book was a bit slow, however, as soon as I reached the action, it got very interesting and intriguing. Although the book is based off of a turn of events that many books are about, the plot is kind of like a side path to the big picture, making it more complex. The storyline is really the highlight of this book and what kept me going at it. I also like how the swimming and politics are completely independent to start but this changes as the book goes on. I, personally, tend to enjoy books that have to do with politics, and I thought this author took a very interesting and narrow topic and turned it into a masterpiece.

Was the book written in a compelling manner?

Overall, this novel was 95% really interesting, 4% kind of interesting, and 1% boring. The author did an amazing job with keeping the book at a high level of intensity. The action scenes were well-written and enthralling. Even the parts that had no significance to the plot were fascinating and made me think. I constantly wanted to get back to the book when I wasn’t reading just because of the fact that it was interesting. Another thing that kept me reading was that although the characters and specific events are true, it’s fun to see how this story plays up to the huge picture of World War II.

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