My Portfolio 🙂
The first assignment of the semester was the PROPOSAL, which was a paper that overall explained what I was going to do for my actual Exhibit. The proposal consisted of an introduction, a statement of purpose, an objectives paragraph, a plan of action and an annotated bibliography which together explained what my plan was for my exhibit.
The next assignment was actually making the EXHIBIT that was proposed by the proposal paper. I created my exhibit on a google document, and it consisted of my artifacts with ID Labels and descriptions of what each artifact is and how each artifact connects to my main topic of breaking stereotypes through extremes.
The NARRATIVE ESSAY was a paper written from the point of view of a visitor walking through the exhibit I created. I wrote the paper to express how I believe a visitor would think and react while walking through my exhibit.
Throughout each of these assignments, my writing has developed and grown as I learned how to improve my style and syntax. You can see this progress through my different assignments over the course of this semester which is demonstrated below:
As we rephrased paragraphs on the whiteboard in class, we were practicing our syntax skills. We learned how the use of punctuation, the known-new chain, and prepositional phrases allow for sentences to be combined or separated to create paragraphs that have a better flow. These syntax techniques along with learning also allowed for paragraphs to be more differentiated and, therefore, more interesting.
As I began to grasp more of what syntax is in terms of writing, my papers and projects became more complex and concise. By just learning new ways of structuring and rewording phrases, my choppy, monotonous sentences turned into smooth, well flowing paragraphs. Suddenly, reading my papers out loud didn’t put the room into nap time, but instead my papers became engaging.
Evidence #1: A quote from my Proposal
“ Ed Bullins, born in 1935, grew up in a tough part of Philadelphia. Being an African American man at this time, Bullins faced a lot of racism. He was even almost stabbed to death as a young man. Later in life, Bullins wrote the nonsense play How Do You Do, which is a very confusing play involving “code-switching.” Code-switching is the idea of changing the way someone talks or acts based on their environment. Bullins’ play is a nonsense play because of how the characters’ articulation is very uneducated and sporadic.”
As you can see from the quote above, this example is poorly written. My work is very boring and choppy, and almost every sentence is the same length. There are very few sentence transitions or differentiated punctuation so the paragraph’s structure is flat.
Evidence #2: A quote from my Exhibit
“In the mid 20th century, racism was extremely predominant; African Americans were given several stereotypes including that they always behaved in a certain manner around white people: proper and respectful. Then, around members of their own race, African American’s talked and behaved in a completely different manner. This stereotype has manifested to an extreme level to the assumption that African Americans are violent.”
The structure of my second quote is a definite improvement from the first. The use of punctuation allows for a more creative style technique while also resulting in a more complex paragraph that is far less monotonous and choppy. Although my sentences are still relatively short, the length from sentence to sentence is more varied and original.
Evidence #3: A quote from my Narrative Essay
“Finishing the caption, I am relieved that I now have some sort of concept of what the author is referring to by breaking stereotypes, but I am also left with some more questions about why he brings up the topic of specifically breaking stereotypes. The word “extremity” pops into my head from the brochure I had read earlier, and I realize that it is the same idea mentioned in this plaque when discussing the breaking of stereotypes. Once again, I am left with confusion and curiosity as I ponder what exactly the intention of “extremity” is.”
This last paragraph represents the best syntax of all three paragraphs with the use of creative punctuation and prepositional phrases to create a better flow through the paragraph. Also, containing sentences much more varied in length allows makes this paragraph stronger than the previous two.
I chose these paragraphs because they represent my improvement over time with syntax. As we count the number of sentences per paragraph, my improvement in paragraph structure is illustrated. Each paragraph is roughly the same length, but my first example has six very short sentences, which is boring to read and too rhythmically repetitive. My next paragraph is an improvement (with only four semi-varied sentences) as my use of creative punctuation comes into play. With the use of a semicolon, a colon, and many commas, this example has longer sentences. My third paragraph illustrates my knowledge of punctuation and prepositional phrases to allow for better flowing paragraphs. Also adding to a smoother flow when reading, this example has the most varied sentence length with only 3 sentences all on the longer side.
Style is one’s own personal creativity when writing. This can come out in many different ways: personal voice, original idea development, diction, and more. Through the use of style, a writer’s work can become immensely more unique and captivating.
Before I began working on style skills, my writing was very dry; I had no idea how to make my writing assignments interesting, and that is why I believe I did not do as well as I had hoped on the proposal assignment. When it came time for my narrative essay, I wanted to make sure my writing was perfect so I decided to go to the Writing Center to get advice on how to make my assignment more engaging. It was there that I was given advice to strengthen my writing style. I took my next essay, and through the use of figurative language, word choice, and personal voice, my essay became much more interesting and relatable.
Evidence #4: A quote from my Proposal
“By collecting artifacts about stereotypes from archival material, popular culture, and ethnography, I will connect my theme of using extreme examples of stereotypes to other examples throughout history and in the present. I will use archival pictures, texts, and ethnography to show examples in the past, and then I will take examples of current day stereotype extremes from popular culture magazines, social media, newspapers, and more. How do you do by Ed Bullins is my first artifact I have used.”
My use of “I will” multiple times throughout this paragraph demonstrates my lack of creativity and writing style in the beginning of the semester. Each sentence is repetitive and makes the reader want to fall asleep. My verb choice is basic and there is no personal voice to the paragraph.
Evidence #5: A quote from my Narrative Essay (first draft)
“After reading the caption, we are going to walk into the first room. To the right you will see the first artifact of the exhibit. This is large picture of Ed Bullins from 2007 plastered on the wall with an ID Label below. As you follow the curve of the room, you see the captions which tells Ed Bullins’ history.”
This example is incredibly bland. There is no personal voice, imagery, or creative word choice at all: this writing piece has zero style. I tell a story with the phrase “we are going to walk,” but this phrase is basic and the verb choice lacks excitement.
Evidence #6: A quote from my Narrative Essay (second draft)
“A gigantic head stares at me as I enter the first room. The bright pink background behind the head gives a nice contrast to this person’s face, but it stands out so much that it is beginning to give me a headache. I can only assume a bright picture was chosen to draw me to go to the picture first. I walk toward the picture, fascinated by anyone important enough to have a large head shot displayed in such an exhibit. To the right of the portrait reads a label that informs me that this picture is a portrait of Ed Bullins, an African American playwright, from 2007. As I follow the curve of the room, again on a large blue plaque with black engravings, a brief background of Bullins is given…”
This is the revised, final version of the same paragraph from example 5. As you can see I turned a boring moment into an event with the use of imagery, diction, and personal voice.
Comparing both Example 4 and 5 to example 6, the difference in writing style is quite obvious. Both quotes 4 and 5 were written before my trip to the writing center, and they both perfectly illustrate how dull my writing was.
Examples 4 to 6 shows a major change, but this can also be blamed on the fact that writing a proposal paper does not leave nearly as much room for creative writing style as does a narrative essay. Yet still, a lot could have been done to decorate the proposal; for instance, even using diction with verbs can change a sentence to be more gripping. Instead of “I will connect my theme…” I could have written, “Connecting my theme…,” or some other way to spice it up.
When comparing example 5 to 6, my improvement in writing style is most obvious. I took short 4 sentence description of walking (example 5) into a room into an event. Not only do I use creative diction, but I added personal voice and imagery to add character to the piece. “A gigantic head stares at me as I enter the first room” is a much more intriguing way of entrance than “we are going to walk into the first room.” I use imagery of a huge head which is both captivating and humorous.
All 6 of these examples represent my progress in writing throughout this semester. Whether through syntax, style, or many other writing skills I learned throughout the semester, my writing is now much more captivating and well written. No longer will I write bland adjectives or choppy sentences. From the skills I have picked up throughout this semester, my writing will forever be stronger.
Dear the Portfolio Assessment Committee,
Throughout this semester, my writing has grown and developed as I learned in class different writing technique and skills. Through class activities such as using syntax to change personal examples on the whiteboard with the entire class, watching youtube tutorials on the known-new chain, and getting professor feedback from assignments, I have gained knowledge on how to improve writing skills. My beginning assignments (the proposal and in class writing) were very poorly written. No creativity was used in my word choice or writing style, and because of this my writing was boring to read. Adding to the dullness of my early semester writing, there was no sentence diversity: each sentence was short, choppy, and lacked decent punctuation use. As we learned different techniques my sloppy, uninteresting writing began to clean up and became much more captivating.
Illustrated in my portfolio above, two examples of writing techniques I adapted as the semester progressed are style and syntax. Syntax more than style I picked up through class exercises, because style is a writing technique that is unique to each individual. One cannot just learn how to have writing style, they just find their own writing style and learn how to use it in their writing. I learned about writing style, however, when I submitted my rough draft for my narrative essay to my teacher and brought it into the Writing Center. Both gave me feedback of making this narrative essay more exciting through the use of personal voice, word choice, and figurative language such as imagery. As I edited this rough draft, I began to think about what my personal voice was. For our narrative essay, we were to write as if we were a visitor walking through our exhibit we had previously made. With this assignment, it was easy to add some sort of personal voice and character to the visitor. With my last draft, I went through and changed verbs and certain nouns to add more interesting and diverse diction to my paper. With all this my final draft was a huge improvement. As shown in my portfolio with example 6, “A gigantic head stares at me as I enter the first room. The bright pink background behind the head gives a nice contrast to this person’s face, but it stands out so much that it is beginning to give me a headache. I can only assume a bright picture was chosen to draw me to go to the picture first. I walk toward the picture, fascinated by anyone important enough to have a large head shot displayed in such an exhibit. To the right of the portrait reads a label that informs me that this picture is a portrait of Ed Bullins, an African American playwright, from 2007. As I follow the curve of the room, again on a large blue plaque with black engravings, a brief background of Bullins is given,” my final draft was not only well writing, but it was captivating with my use of personal voice to tell this story.
Skills regarding syntax use I picked up during in class exercises as we participated in in-class writing and revisions experiments. One example of what we worked on with syntax was that each student took about 2-3 sentences from an assignment we have done, and we condensed it down by rephrasing into one concise sentence. In my portfolio, I give examples from the proposal essay we wrote in the beginning of the semester, the exhibit we made in the middle of the semester that was explained and planned out by the proposal, and the narrative essay about the exhibit that was our most recent paper. From the proposal to the narrative essay, my writing had immensely improved with the use of syntax. My first writing pieces of the semester included very choppy and rhythmically repetitive sentences. As I learned how to diversify my paragraphs by rephrasing and adding punctuation and transition phrases, my writing quality strengthened. Exemplified in the portfolio, my narrative essay example (example #3) illustrates the most syntax use: “Finishing the caption, I am relieved that I now have some sort of concept of what the author is referring to by breaking stereotypes, but I am also left with some more questions about why he brings up the topic of specifically breaking stereotypes. The word “extremity” pops into my head from the brochure I had read earlier, and I realize that it is the same idea mentioned in this plaque when discussing the breaking of stereotypes. Once again, I am left with confusion and curiosity as I ponder what exactly the intention of “extremity” is.” Each sentence is different in length and topic, and the flow of how each sentences moves into the next in sensical and smooth.
Throughout the semester, my writing has grown as I adapted many different writing techniques, not just the use of syntax and style. As you see in my portfolio through examples of all the assignments, I have learned a lot on how to become a more superior writer.