Riya K.

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?

In the beginning of the year, my writing was really broken and there was no flow to the sentences. I also repeated and used all the typical transitions. My writing now has more flow to them and I feel it is more me, and I can really write from my heart and use my own ideas.

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

I am now able to describe things well and put the ideas from my head onto the paper and say it the way I want it to sound. Because I have been reading A LOT more than last year, I have been able to use these skills more. I have also been able to learn how to write literary analysis in an organized way because my teacher gave really great and easy steps in order to write those types of essays.

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

I think that I can work on being able to explain my commentary a lot better because that was the hardest part for me when I was writing my literary analysis essays and I needed help on that the most. I also really hope that next year I will be able to read as much as I did this year because I think that doing that really helped improve my writing .If I continue to read this much, I will be able to get even better at writing. I would also like to improve my vocabulary because I think my writing will sound better with different ways of saying things.

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

I think that one of my literary analysis essays, the Walrus and the Carpenter captures my growth as a writer and a thinker because I have used many new techniques that I did not know about last year. For example, I varied my word choice and I learned how to put quotes in an essay properly. This was really important to me because it showed the growth of not being able to write literary analysis essays properly to now being able to and doing it correctly.

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

I am proud of my Holocaust letter because I think that I described my character’s feelings and surroundings well. I think that I also used my knowledge of quotes and fluency to make my writing the best it can be. I think that this writing piece really shows how well I can write fiction.

Artifact #1

In modern society, most people have a hard time using logic to consider circumstances, so they use their emotions instead. When people use their emotions, many of them can get into trouble because they do not think about the facts of the situation. They can learn this lesson from a poem in a book, Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. In the poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” Lewis Carroll emphasizes the theme that one should make decisions by the logic of the situation, not by one’s desires.

First, Carroll uses personification to make the characters in the story relatable, so that they are willing to learn to make decisions based on logic, not on desires, from the Oysters’ story. When Lewis Carroll describes the Oysters, he mentions that “Their shoes were clean and neat” (45-46). Carroll makes the Oysters seem like the readers because Oysters usually do not have shoes but in this poem, they do. This makes the readers relate to the Oysters, so they get excited to join the Oysters on their adventure. Thus, they will be open to listening to and learning from the poem’s message, which is that readers should make decisions based on logic. The Oysters in this poem get eaten because they followed their desire by going on a walk which was a mistake. Carroll encourages his readers to make logical decisions by personifying the Oysters as other people who make mistakes.

Carroll also uses pathos to give an example of how the Walrus talks to Oysters, who then give in to their desires. When the Walrus tries to lure the Oysters to go for a walk with him, he mentions, “O, Oysters, come and walk with us!/ a pleasant walk, a pleasant talk/along the briny beach” (32-33) Lewis Carroll describes how the Walrus convinces the Oysters to go for this special treat. The Walrus persuading to the get the Oysters to come with him is an example of pathos, because pathos means to make decisions based on emotion. One can definitely relate to why the Oysters want to listen to the Walrus and go for a walk, because often, humans follow their desires too. However, when the Oysters get eaten, the readers feel bad, and they later realize why following one’s desire without thinking about the consequences is not logical, such as when a stranger is trying to take one someplace. Therefore, Lewis Carroll makes Walrus use pathos so the readers will emotionally learn his message.

In conclusion, Lewis Carroll uses his poem to show his readers that it is better to look at the logic of the situation and solve it, instead of solving the situation with ones yearning. Carroll does this by using personification to make the characters relatable to the readers. This helps them see themselves in the oyster’s position. Additionally, Carroll uses pathos to emotionally show one how the Oysters felt throughout their journey. Society should always live by Carroll’s message: use logic, not desires.

Artifact #2

Dear Henryk,

I am sorry that your house was overturned. Your family must have been very upset. I hope that you all will stay safe, and maintain a low profile for awhile. I will pray for you but not at the synagogue because...

Yesterday was probably the worst day of life. It started at around sunset. I was almost done with helping my mother with her laundry, when I heard an awful crash, and lots of people yelling, “Ahh! Help me!” Whenever there is tension, my body starts to shake, and yesterday, my hands, and legs were trembling. I could barely walk. My mother looked very worried. Her forehead creased into deep wavy lines.

“This is not good,” I thought to myself.

Then, she suddenly commanded me, “Go get that brother of yours.”

Eric was playing football with his friends from the synagogue right outside our house, so I went to the creaky porch, and called out to him.

“Eric, come here, mama wants you!” It felt very odd that my mother was commanding me; she never does that. I waited for him for thirty seconds, and then ran outside to get him but he was already running back.

“Emse, what’s wrong? Tell me, is everyone okay?” Erik said softly with high pitched alarm in his voice. My heart was beating so fast, it was hard for me to breathe. I wasn’t sure what to say. Physically, we were fine, but mentally and emotionally, we weren’t. Just to reassure him, I said, “Yes Eric, we are fine, stop worrying before you even come in,” and we both walked briskly into our house.

After an hour of anxiety, we finally heard a very loud and authoritative knock, just like the first clap of thunder in a storm. My father immediately rushed to his bedroom and came back in a second. I wondered what he was doing, but he still hasn’t told me. While he was gone, my mother opened the door. Three big and burly soldiers came in wearing a white square patch with black zig-zag lines over it. My worried eyes searched Ildi’s face, who was standing next to me.

“Who are these people?” I whispered anxiously. She just looked at me gently, and pityingly, and tried to quirk her lips in a reassuring smile, but she couldn’t. As the soldiers stomped in, the biggest one barked at us in German, “Hold your hands up and don’t move or else I will use this.” He pointed to his gun. The other soldiers looked around our tiny home expressionlessly. A few minutes later, I painfully watched them overturn everything we had in our house from furniture to papers. They even took our food and whatever valuables we had, like my mother’s wedding ring and my dad’s reading glasses.

Suddenly, a thought came into my head: “Bambi! they might of taken Bambi!” My father could see the distress in me. My eyes were trying so hard not to cry that they burned. My father just stared at me blankly, like he was trying to send me a message that everything was going to be okay. I hope he was trying to tell me that.

Once they left, my mother started bawling. “All our valuables are gone. All of them,” she kept sobbing. I didn’t know what to say to her. I just gave her a hug, and sat down next to her to comfort her. My mother might think that jewelry and money are valuable, but what is valuable to me are the simple things, like Bambi, and my pen and some paper so I can write to you.

That night, I did not know what to do. It was almost like a part of me was gone. None of us slept. We attempted to put everything back in its place, but we couldn’t. We were helpless.

This morning, news came from our neighbor Mr. Jungen, but he wished to speak to my mother and father alone. After a couple of minutes, I heard crying like I was at a funeral, and it did not stop after Mr. Jungen left. Something tells me I might have to get used to this. After about a half hour or so, my father called me and my siblings into the living room, where he and my mother met Mr. Jungen and told us that our whole bookstore had been set on fire. Our bookstore; the bookstore that comforted me whenever I had troubles. It is gone and I can’t believe it. How would I ever have known that our bookstore and house would be destroyed? Even our other Jewish friend’s houses were overturned, and our synagogue was burned to flames. Now I know to never take life for granted.

Last night in bed, I was hoping that you would never have to experience this, but I guess it is too late for that. What is going to happen to us, Henryk? I don’t want to know.

Be careful,

Emse Shaplin

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