Allison C.

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, my writing was less organized and didn't have much structure, but now, after using many graphic organizers, I have learned how to organize my essay into an introduction, a middle/body, and a conclusion. I also learned how to write a hook, an introduction paragraph, and a concluding paragraph with a "funnel", which I didn't know how to write before. I didn't exactly understand what rhetoric was, but after doing many worksheets, analyzing speeches, and writing an essay, I now know how rhetoric works and the three parts of it, ethos, logos, and pathos. I also learned about the structure of poems, rhyming schemes, and a lot of new grammar rules from warm-ups such as Caught Ya Grammar.

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

Although I still have a lot to learn in writing, I think my skills in descriptive writing, grammar, and spelling have improved. I have learned many new adjectives this year, and many of them were from looking for better ones for essays. Like I said in question one, I learned many new grammar rules from warm-ups such as Caught Ya Grammar. I also improved on my spelling this year because I learned many new words and how to spell them, and also with another warm-up, Latin Word Chunks, where I learned about prefixes and suffixes.

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

Next year, I would like to improve on writing more interesting introductions and conclusions. If I can't get the reader to start reading even the beginning, there is no way they will want to read the whole thing. If they actually read through the whole thing and get to the end, and still don't realize the message, they will think it was a waste of time reading it. I would also like to improve on transitions because sometimes, I feel that my writing jumps from one scene to another.

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

My Walrus and Carpenter essay, Artifact #2, best captures my growth as a writer and thinker because I learned a lot about rhetoric and how it is used. I learned about ethos, pathos, and logos, and learned about many examples that used rhetoric, such as Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford. I learned about how it can be used to win arguments, and also how it can get people's attention.

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

I am most proud of Artifact #1, my Holocaust letter, because after learning about the struggles, tortures, and hardships people living in that time period had to go through, I wanted to write a descriptive piece so others who read it would understand, too. I learned a lot from the unit, and I felt that I expressed it the most in this essay. I also improved on my dialogue skills in this essay.

Artifact #1

Dear Regina,

Earlier today, a soldier wearing a uniform came into our house. He knocked a few times, but then started banging, so my mother opened the door. The soldier barged in and told us to gather up our belongings.

I didn’t know where we were going, but I quickly ran to my room and grabbed my favorite brush that I received as a birthday gift, my book from Rachel, a few extra clothes in case I needed them, my favorite family photo from a few years ago, and this diary. I stuffed them all in a sturdy-looking burlap sack and slipped on my favorite shoes, which were hiking boots that I received from Father a few years ago. I saw Paul waiting outside his room, but I decided to go and help Mother pack up. Mother was stuffing a thick winter coat and some pictures into her already-filled bag. Bella and Jane were still playing, so I grabbed two large bags from the closet and put some of their warm clothes and favorite toys inside. I also went around to the kitchen to take the last bit of the bread that was left because it was expensive bread, and I didn’t want it to go to waste.

“Hurry up! We have to go now!” the soldier called to us from the living room.

I led Bella and Jane to the living room but warned them to be quiet.

“Your family has been assigned to the Warsaw ghetto. You will be staying there with other Jewish families and people.” the soldier said. “You will be sent to that ghetto this afternoon, and you will be required to stay there until we say that you can leave.” He led us outside and we were taken to cars that looked like they belonged to the military. “You will be taken to your assigned ghetto in these cars in a few hours. Wait here until you are called,” he told us.

We all stayed together as a group, and although normally, I am very cheerful, today I didn’t feel the same. I felt scared and terrified that we would be separated.

“Mother,” I asked, “where are we going?”

“We are going to a ghetto. It is a closed-off area where we will have to stay. It will not be a nice place to stay in, but do not complain, because it could be worse.” she said. The words “it could be worse” scared me. I was terrified that worse things could happen to us and we might be separated. I shook my head and tried to think about happy things. When I looked up, the soldiers were already leading people into the military cars.

“Hurry, get on,” a soldier told us. We boarded a car, and thankfully, we were still all together. I held on to Bella’s hand, while Mother held on to Jane’s.

After what seemed like forever, they told us to get off. I looked around for a tall building, but I only saw a large, dirty, walled-off area in the middle.

“Is this it? Is this where we’re staying?” I whispered quietly to my mother. She nodded silently. I walked with all of the other people, still holding on to Bella’s hand. Once we were inside, a soldier led us to the house we were going to stay in.

“Everyone from the age of 14 to the age of 65, you will work for free for us. You will be assigned to a job, and you are required to do that job.” another soldier said, loudly. “Do not complain, or else you will receive unpleasant consequences”.

That’s me, I thought. I would have to do labor for those soldiers every single day from morning to night. I didn’t even dare to think about objecting, for fear of suffering the “unpleasant consequences” the soldier had mentioned.

“As for food,” the soldier continued, “you will get your ration of food per day.” My mouth started to water. I wondered when the next meal would be, and what kind of food they would be serving.

After the soldier finished his “speech”, we were sent back to our homes in the ghetto, and I realized that they were just rooms that we all had to share.

I know that the conditions here will not be as nice as when I was back home, but I will try to make the best out of what I have. Hopefully, I will be able to stay with my family this whole time, and I hope that Bella, Jane, Mother, and Paul will be okay this whole time. I will keep my hopes up and wish everyday for a happy day of freedom when we are released from this prison-like place.

                                                                                                                         Sincerely,

                                                                                                                         Anne

Artifact #2

Although strangers may seem friendly, being wary is the key to safety. For example, if a stranger is trying to convince someone to go with them to their car, they should always think before following them. In “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, the Walrus may seem nice, but he is only trying to convince the Oysters so he can eat them. Lewis Carroll emphasizes the theme of thinking twice before acting by using personification and pathos.

First, Carroll uses personification to make the poem appeal more to children and appear playful. When Carroll starts his poem, he begins by saying, “The sun was shining on the sea, /Shining with all his might” (1-2). Although suns can not “shine with all their might”, Carroll uses that to make his poem more child-friendly. He gives the sun in his poem a more fairytale-like quality because he knows that younger children will be more likely to read his poem. Also, if he just stated the message he was trying to spread, it would be harder for toddler-aged kids to remember. However, with characters similar to the ones in books they enjoy, Carroll’s poem will seem to them as a fairytale with a moral, which is more likely to stay in their head than just a message.

Carroll also uses pathos to prove to the audience that even though what a stranger is trying to get someone to do may seem very tempting, they should always think before acting. When the Walrus tries to convince the Oysters to join him for a walk, he says, “‘O Oysters, come and walk with us!’” (31). Carroll makes him sound very friendly and harmless to convince the Oysters. He wants the Oysters to feel as if nothing dangerous will happen to them on the walk, and that they should gladly take the opportunity to walk with the Walrus. Lewis Carroll uses the Walrus to represent a stranger who is trying to lure the Oysters. He also emphasizes that the audience should learn that unless they want to end up like the oysters, they should never trust strangers, even if what he or she is saying may be very convincing.

In conclusion, Carroll uses personification and pathos to inform the audience about the importance of thinking before acting. He incorporates these devices to make the poem seem more child-friendly, and also to tell the audience to never trust strangers. In the real world, there will also be people similar to the Walrus, and like the Oysters, those victims could fall into unreliable people’s traps, and put themselves into danger.

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