Soumya J.

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?

My writing has become much stronger throughout the course of the year. At the beginning of seventh grade, I was a skilled writer, but used a lot of the same vocabulary and had a few weak spots when it came to organizing ideas and supporting them.  This  year, I expanded my vocabulary to great lengths and included it into everything I wrote. And numerous assignments have taught me how to not only make a strong claim, but how to expand on it by proving it with evidence, and giving my reasoning. Writing is like taking a small plant and nurturing it, letting it grow into a redwood tree - there are no limits to how far the tree will grow. My writing has improved considerably, and will continue to grow.

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

I believe that one of my writing strengths is the ability to paint a picture in a reader's mind. Using descriptive words, I am able to "show," rather than "tell." Also, I think that I am good at supporting my claims Lastly, one of my strengths is definitely creating hooks and stunning conclusions that wrap up my writing perfectly. These are what make me a skilled writer.

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

Next year, there are a few skills I want to continue developing. For instance, I would like to work on making stronger claims. In addition to this, I want to make my thesis statements more interesting so that they do not sound the same in every essay. One more thing I want to improve next year is my ability to be less 'wordy.' I love creative writing, and sometimes in analytic writing I tend to use too many words to explain something. These are what I hope to improve on next year in order to make myself an even better writer.

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

The piece of writing I think shows my growth best is my Walrus and Carpenter essay. Even though it was written early in the year and my writing has improved since, it is a great example of my growth, because I exercised every skill we learned in the essay. It clearly shows my abilities to think logically, support my reasoning, and also to make writing flow, make sense, and be pleasing to read. Therefore, it captures my growth very well.

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

The piece of writing I am most proud of comes from my Holocaust diary. I think it is interesting and informative, and really shows my ability to meld fact with fiction. Also, the word choice in the letter is very advanced. Lastly, the letter manages to evoke emotion in the reader, which is something I am incredibly proud of being able to do.

ARTIFACT #1

If one is aware of their surroundings, they are more likely to survive. On the other hand, if one is too trusting then they will be taken advantage of. Many authors try to implement this message into their writing as a satire or allegory. For example, in “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, Lewis Carroll teaches his audience that not everything is as it seems by using the literary devices of personification and pathos.

At first, Carroll uses personification to make his message appealing to children as well as adults. The Walrus asks the Oysters to go for a walk, but the eldest Oyster refuses, because he knows better. According to Carroll; “The eldest Oyster winked his eye,/And shook his heavy head” (39-40). The eldest Oyster is being personified because oysters do not have eyes or heads. They cannot perform the functions of winking or shaking their heads, thus the eldest Oyster has been given humanlike qualities. This makes the poem attractive to children, since it masks a hidden message under an artfully crafted shell. The message Carroll is trying to teach is that people should listen to their elders, who are wiser. The shell he hides this under appears to simply be a playful way of describing an oyster, but it is actually giving the reader an insight about the theme of the poem. For children, the poem is a fun nursery rhyme, but it holds a completely different message for older people, who are able to grasp what Carroll is implying. Using this method, Carroll effectively manages to make his message applicable to people of all ages.

In addition, Carroll uses pathos to show his readers that people may use language to deceive others. One instance when this happens is after the Walrus implies he will eat the Oysters, he then quickly changes the topic by saying, “It was so kind of you to come!/And you are very nice!” (85-86). This is an example of pathos because the Walrus is using emotion to divert the Oysters’ attention. He is saying pleasant things to the Oysters in order to make himself seem more approachable and not as likely to eat them. This assists the Walrus in tricking the Oysters, which emphasizes the theme that not everything is as it seems. The Walrus appears as though he just wants to have a friendly chat with the Oysters, while he is actually intending to eat them. Rhetoric plays a key part in allowing Carroll to communicate this idea with his readers.

Not everything is as it seems. Carroll exercises this belief throughout the poem, utilizing the tools of personification and pathos to assist him. While this may seem relatable only to the poem, it actually applies very well to real life. Carroll is telling his readers not to trust strangers or opportunities that seem to good to be true, because chances are they are too good to be true.

ARTIFACT #2

Letter #4

Dear Augusta and Albert,

It was a particularly gloomy morning a few days ago. The sky was ash gray, covered with clouds, and a heavy storm threatened to erupt. I knew it was a bad omen. But looking back, I realize I had no idea just how bad the situation was going to be. I certainly did not expect that we would be lead to what will surely be our deaths, which is what has happened.

An hour after sunrise, Nazi soldiers began to enter the ghettos. They barked orders at us, their guns ready to punish anyone who did not comply. The leader of the group, a burly, tall dark-haired man, shouted into a bullhorn. We were to gather down in the alleys immediately. As I was about to run down the rickety wooden stairs, Mama shoved my spare clothes into my hands.

“Aliza, put these on. Quickly!” I hastily pulled both my dresses over my head, and then yanked my sweater over too. Once we reached the ground floor, Mama grabbed Yvonne’s hand and Papa grabbed Muriel’s. He warned us to stay close together. There was no need for the warning. We were all frightened of getting lost in the masses of injured, diseased, and dead bodies. Soon, the entire ghetto had emptied out right in front of the north wall, crammed together like sardines in a tin.

Then we were thrown into large trucks as though we were no more than sacks of potatoes. The stench that enveloped us was even worse in the trucks. They reeked of all sorts of unpleasant odors, and I tried to hold my breath as much as possible.

Afterwards, we were unloaded at the train station and given a mere few seconds of fresh air before we were loaded onto cargo trains. There were perhaps thirty or forty of us in one single tiny train car. There was no personal space, and the only furniture was a small bucket in the corner. The toilet. Someone shrugged off a ragged coat and hung it up in front of the bucket as a makeshift curtain. It wasn’t much, but it would do. I would have to learn to compromise, I figured, if I was to survive this nightmare.

Slowly, time blurred together, seconds to minutes to hours. All I could think of was getting out. Everyone in the train car was reacting differently. Mama seemed to have frozen. She sat there, shell-shocked, not moving or uttering a word. I swear, she wasn’t even blinking. Papa seemed to be pondering over something, but there was anger in his eyes. Yvonne and Muriel were trying their best to ignore everything, playing hand games, reciting silly songs, and making finger puppets, all in an attempt to block reality out. I could see from the way Yvonne’s eyes looked like they were going to tear up and the way Muriel shook that their attempt was not succeeding. I was too tired to join them. Instead, I slumped down in the corner and tried to fall asleep. My nightmares were no better than reality. Images flashed through my mind, walking to school with Chava, jumping in puddles after the rain, sneaking into the kitchen to have a piece of cake. Then more unpleasant images, people dying in the ghettos, the ill talking nonsense and clawing the empty air, desperately trying to hang on to life. I woke up screaming.

After what seemed like days, but was probably only a few hours, the train came to a shaky halt.

We were dragged out of the train car by menacing-looking soldiers. I managed to read the sign on the front of the large railroad station. It read Belzec in German. A young man walked out of the station, briefcase in hand. He saw us and immediately looked down, muttering something. Behind him was someone who apparently worked at the station.

He walked up to the soldiers and said, “Do you have identification?”

One of the soldiers nodded. “Ja, we have our passbooks.” He handed a stack of thin green booklets to the man. The man read glanced through them quickly, handed them back, and motioned to a side rail.

“Proceed,” he said, a tinge of laughter in his voice. I had no clue why he was laughing. Couldn’t he see our misery?

The soldiers grabbed us and began to march us down the small rail siding. One man struggled against the iron grip of the officer, and the officer instantly pulled out a black pistol and pointed it at the man’s head. He warned, “I won’t kill you now because you look like a strong worker. But one more stupid action like that and I won’t think twice about putting twenty bullets through your head. Understand?”

The man nodded tentatively and whispered, “Ja.”

The officer shook him hard. “I can’t hear you. What did you say?”

“Ja,” the man repeated loudly.

The officer gave him a menacing look, and then we continued marching until we reached what looked like a large camp. A crooked sign was stuck into the ground. The black typing read Belzec Labor Camp. Someone had painted a large red Star of David over the words as a joke. It filled me with not anger, but dread, because people who considered being Jewish a joke were certain not to treat us well.

Whatever you both are facing right now, I hope it is nowhere near how dire my situation is. I wish you both the best of luck throughout these difficult times.

From,

Aliza

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