Shelley Reid


English 309
Introduction to Nonfiction Writing


Spring 2007  --  TR 3:00-4:15  --  IN 209
Professor E. Shelley Reid


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First Portfolio WW1: Description WW2: Reflection
  WW3: Profile/Report WW4: Right brain
  WW5: Argument Feedback Guide
  Writer's Commentary Reading Analysis
  Letter Peer Review
  Writing Exercise Journal
Portfolio 1 Grading Portfolio 1 Quality Grade Proposal
Portfolio 1 Participation Portfolio 2 Participation Second Portfolio

First Portfolio Assignments:  150 points

Format Guidelines:  All assignments (except journals) are to be typed, double-spaced, and stapled, with standard (1 or 1.25") margins, using a standard font (Times, New York, etc., 12- or 14-point), unless otherwise specified.  Where required, APA or MLA formats for in-text citation and works cited pages are equally acceptable.  No separate cover page or title page is necessary, though all essays should have titles.  Please put your name and the date on each assignment. 

Finally, please proofread any workshop drafts or assignments you turn in.  We'll talk about why you shouldn't obsess about your "grammar" too early in the writing process, but it's simply polite to provide a relatively clean copy when you're sharing your writing with other readers.  Also, clearing out the tiny errors you can find makes it easier for readers to help you improve your writing in ways that aren't so obvious to you.

For this class, one page is defined as 275-300 words, regardless of font/margins


Workshop Essays:  20 points guaranteed for each completed, on-time draft (3 req.)



Writer's Workshop 1—Description/Place

Draft a 2-3 page essay that uses specific, vivid language to describe, purposefully,

  • a specific object or event that is part of your life right now (let's save profiles of people and memories of summer vacations for future workshops), or
  • a place, a kind of place, your "place" in a larger context (or the place of someone you know well), the way a place or a person's-place can change, etc. 

Since we're "writing for change" in this class, you should write with a goal in mind (and not keep that goal hidden):  what do you hope to change in your readers?  what's your point?  You should draw primarily on personal experience or knowledge, but you need to go beyond description/exposition ("what is the place like," or "how many colors does it have") and begin to persuade an educated audience to see something exactly the way you think it should be seen.  What do you want your readers to believe or feel about this object, event, or place/ment?

For the Workshop, bring copies with Feedback Guides (see below) for your writing group; bring another copy with a cover sheet and your Writer's Commentary (see assignment below) for me (Prof. Reid).



Writer's Workshop 2—Memory/Reflection

Draft a 2-3 page essay that brings some important idea from inside your head into very clear view so that you and a reader can learn something new from it.  Try to choose something you haven't written about before, or write about an unexpected aspect or view of something more familiar to you.  Instead of writing about a "Huge Turning Point In My Life" or "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up," you might choose to write about

  • a "still point" or "characteristic moment," something that carries weight for you but might otherwise fade into the background
  • a definition or discovery of (a part of) yourself or your world:  for instance, the kind of writer/reader you are, and/or how you got to be that way; what your childhood neighborhood or workplace is/was really like; what it means that you hate cantaloupe or like "Lost" or secretly want to be a dancer
  •  a puzzle: something you're unsure of, or don't remember clearly, or can't anticipate—but that you keep picking at, psychically

In writing this essay, try to focus on discovery:  as you explain something you are (somewhat) familiar with, in writing, to an audience of peers who cannot read your mind, you have the opportunity to learn more about the subject yourself, to clarify your thinking.  If you start with a broad concept ("I'm a procrastinator"), remember that one-time-only examples will move your reader more (and reveal more to you) than predictable generalizations.  If you start with a narrow image ("that day on the beach when I was five"), remember to invite your reader (and push yourself) toward discoveries and conclusions, rather than leaving everyone "to decide for themselves."

For the Workshop, bring copies with Feedback Guides for your writing group.  If this is one of your Required Three, bring another copy with a cover sheet and your Writer's Commentary for Prof. Reid.  If this is an extra draft, you may submit just the essay and cover sheet for Prof. Reid's feedback.



Writer's Workshop 3—Report/Profile

Draft a 2-3 page essay in which you provide exact information to an audience that needs/wants it, in a style that is appropriate to the situation as well as engaging and accessible.  You may write from your current expertise, but you must consult at least two relevant outside sources as part of your writing process.

You may begin with a standard report topic ("all about mollusks") or a profile of a person, group, or place ("my Uncle Tony"), but even in writing informational documents, good writers usually have a slant or an angle that helps both the writer and the reader stay engaged and move forward.  Sometimes that slant comes from your position (expert/newbie); sometimes it comes from choosing a piece of the topic to focus on (is clam-digging dangerous for kids?); sometimes it comes from anticipating the needs of a particular audience (who needs to know what, and why?).  You might consider choosing a topic that lets you write from knowledge but also learn a thing or two:

  • focus on a less-common historical, legal, medical, environmental, political, musical, technological (etc.) element of or approach to a person or subject you know well
  • pursue a question that's important to you (and others) but has no single, clear answer
  • write about a familiar person from an unfamiliar angle—or about a completely unknown person whom everyone should know (about)
  • write an explanatory document that is actually needed but doesn't exist in your workplace, hometown, family, or school (etc.)

To write this essay most successfully, you'll need to have a vivid, precise idea of who is in your target audience and what they do—and importantly, do not—want or need to know.  As you write, you may change your audience-concept; as you change your audience-concept, you will include different information and present it differently.

In this draft, if you include information you found in outside sources, please use a standard academic citation format (MLA/APA) for in-text citations and your bibliography.  We'll talk more about whether a revised version of this essay would need these kinds of citations, depending on the kind of publication you'd be aiming for.

For the Workshop, bring copies with Feedback Guides for your writing group.  If this is one of your Required Three, bring another copy with a cover sheet and your Writer's Commentary for Prof. Reid.  If this is an extra draft, you may submit just the essay and cover sheet for Prof. Reid's feedback.


Writer's Workshop 4—Review/Multimedia-Multimodal/Humor

Draft a 2-3 page essay—or an equivalent effort in multi-media/modal production—in which you reach out to engage your audience's emotions.  You may but do not need to create a direct argument, though you should be aiming to move your audience in some specific directions.  Your purely-textual writing talents are still important here:  word choice, organization, specificity, logic.  You'll add more right-brain elements here, though, as you experiment with ways to engage other parts of your reader's brain:  his or her appreciation of beauty, response to color and design (or to sound and rhythm), sense of humor (or other visceral response), and/or general humanity.

If you write a review of a book, movie, restaurant, MP3 player, basketball team, hybrid car, chocolate bar, concert, or fitness center (etc.), you'll need to make your criteria for evaluation clear to your readers, and balance summary/description with evaluation.  You may write a single-object review or a comparative review; you should try not to write only from distant memory but to write about something you can see/do now.  Try to read around in some similar-topic reviews to get the rhythm of the kind of piece you want to write.

If you compose a new-media or multi-media piece—or draft the outline, storyboard, or plan for one—remember that your non-alphabetic element(s) need to serve a clear purpose within your overall move-the-reader goals:  what can you accomplish with visual (or audio, hypertext, flash, video, design) elements that adds value to the textual elements?  No bells-and-whistles "just because they're there," please.  The same caveat applies to a multi-modal piece—one that involves various textual genres:  if you're including haiku or autobiographical vignettes in your proposal for broader on-campus recycling, they should be designed or chosen carefully to elicit crucial audience responses.  If you're taking on a new kind of media or combination, consider choosing a topic that's familiar to you, to help you not overextend yourself.

If you write a humor piece, think carefully about details and nuances rather than going off on a rant.  Good textual humor treads some fine lines:  it elbows rather than bludgeons the reader, carefully balances the familiar with the absurd, and picks up energy from the smallest details:  words, timing, sentence rhythms, allusions.  As you write, you might deliberately imagine what would constitute "crossing the line" at several points, and decide how far you want to go or pull back.  Prose humor is often patient, as well:  craft your set-up with as much care as your punchlines. 

All Workshop 4 projects should still belong clearly in a nonfiction writing class:  no textless photo essays of weird road signs, no 25-word emo-rock songs, no webpages that have more Flash puppies than full sentences, no booklets of limericks or lyric poetry about lost love.  Workshop 4 projects need not be cute or floofy:  nonfiction writing in these broad categories also include serious reviews of color laser printers for a school's technology committee, brochures or websites for a small business (real or imagined), and pointed political satire.

For the Workshop, bring copies with Feedback Guides for your writing group.  If this is one of your Required Three, bring another copy with a cover sheet and your Writer's Commentary for Prof. Reid.  If this is an extra draft, you may submit just the essay (etc.) and cover sheet for Prof. Reid's feedback.



Writer's Workshop 5—Arguing for Change

Draft a 2-3 page essay that begins to argue for specific change(s) to a local or familiar situation, person, organization, procedure, attitude, or statute.  Try to choose a topic that has special interest to you, to people in your intended profession, to people in your hometown or family, or to friends in your community or an organization you belong to. 

It may help to stay local with the angle you take and the recommendations you make, even if the general information you're interested in has national or global connections.  It will definitely help to choose a specific audience who can help make this change happen as your target audience, and choose a specific way to "deliver" your ideas to them.  Vague topics ("make the world a better place") or vague audiences ("all adolescents/ Buddhists/teachers/dog-lovers") will make achieving success with this kind of writing very difficult.

Generalized topics for generalized audiences—particularly topics about which people hold unshakable opinions, such as the death penalty, abortion, gun control, environmental protection, violence, freedom of speech, whether Martians have rights, etc.—may not be appropriate for this essay unless you can conclusively demonstrate that you have a new, local angle and a very local audience that could indeed be changed by reading what you write.  Essays arguing about taste or interpretation (the feminist implications of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night or the craft of Crash) will be harder for you to mesh with the eventual requirements of this assignment—and besides, you get lots of practice writing those already, while this is your opportunity to "try something" new.

It's likely that you'll need to conduct some outside research to help you understand why change hasn't happened yet and to help you persuade your audience to move with you toward change.  If you use outside material in this draft, please cite it appropriately.

For the Workshop, bring copies with Feedback Guides for your writing group.  If this is one of your Required Three, bring another copy with a cover sheet and your Writer's Commentary for Prof. Reid.  If this is an extra draft, you may submit just the essay and cover sheet for Prof. Reid's feedback.


1.  All of these essay drafts should be considered "beginning places," not The Final Word.  Some drafts will necessarily be incomplete.

2.  All assignment descriptions are starting points, not limitations:  if you would like to try something not exactly listed here, please talk/email with me about it.

3.  Because this class focuses on writing for an audience, you should aim to write essays that you can share with peers, even if they're not familiar to you.  However, if you discover that you have written an essay that is so personal that you do not wish to share with your peers, or that you wish to share only with a few hand-chosen peers, please contact me before the draft workshop so that we can discuss alternative arrangements. 



Feedback Guide:  Required for all workshop drafts

On a separate sheet of paper, put your name, your essay's title, the workshop date, and a "heat rating" (we'll talk about this in class).  Type out 3-5 questions/issues that you hope your readers will respond to after they've read your essay.  Ask as specifically and honestly as possible: try not to ask, "Is the organization ok?" when what's going through your head is really more like, "I think I have too many things going on in paragraph 4, but I can't figure out which one to cut or move."

You might vary your questions in one or more of these ways:

  • ask for suggestions ("how can I…?") rather than asking yes/no questions
  • reveal your goals ("I want parag. 3 to ___, but I'm worried that it ____")
  • ask about ongoing issues ("I'm trying to get better at ___; how can I improve page 2?")
  • request exact reader responses ("When did you figure out that I ____? Where did you most feel ___?")
  • share your ideas for revision/expansion ("I'm thinking about adding ____; should I?")

You may use copies of the same Guide for all your readers, or write up different questions for different readers. 



Writer's Commentary:  20 (√+) or 15 (√) points each; minimum 3 required

Write 1-2 pages of reflective commentary from the writer's point of view—a little like a DVD commentary voice-over track—to turn in with your essay draft.  Your goal is to "pull back the curtain" and make your writing process visible and nameable so that (1) you can learn how to notice, control, improve, and/or cope with your own processes, and (2) you can help me see how best to help you learn more as a writer.

You should reflect, as honestly as possible, on the following: 

what you want(ed) to accomplish in this essay (point, audience, & purpose)

what was hardest and/or easiest about writing the essay (why?)

what you're learning about writing as you write (revise), and what helps you learn (or limited the learning process)

You may also reflect on any of the following, or any related issues:

what parts of the essay seem to be working well (or not) & why

any experiments you did or risks you took in writing; any "rules" you broke

what you have changed (so far) as you've revised, or hope to add later

what you've done or would like to do similarly or differently in another essay

anything you want(ed) to include or do in this essay but didn't

any questions you have about the overall essay or specific parts of it

what you'd like to learn more about—for this essay, or for future essays

This is a "writing-to-learn" assignment, not a craft assignment:  your style, grammatical correctness, and organization will not affect your commentary score.

To earn a check-plus, try to dig deep on questions of interest to you for the particular assignment rather than cranking out an ordinary one-sentence response for all questions in the list.  Once you've written a sentence or two, you might ask yourself "how" or "why" or "so what" questions to help push yourself past the obvious answer into a space where discovery and learning are more likely.  My comments on your essay will be primarily a response to your commentary; the more specific your explanations or questions are, the more direct (and hopefully helpful) my comments will be.



Reading Analysis:  10 or 8 (Full) or 5 or 4 (Brief) points each; minimum 2 required

Writers learn in part by noticing what other writers do.  Reading as a writer is thus different from reading as a literature student, reading for entertainment, or reading for information.  In completing a reading analysis as a writer, you should plan to read the text at least twice, all the way through, so that you have time to notice what's really going on, and think about how you can learn more about strategies to use in your own writing.  You may write about pieces or elements that didn't impress you as well as those that did.

A full reading analysis (10 points for √+, 8 for √) should be 2-3 pages long and answer five questions (not necessarily in this order or with equal emphasis):

  • who's the primary or target audience for this piece? (what exactly makes you think so?  are you included?)
  • what is/are the author's main goal(s) or purpose(s) for this piece?
  • in what ways does the author reach (or miss) his/her audience or goals? (big picture)
  • what stylistic choices does the author make that strongly affect a reader? (small picture)
  • what two or three new-ish writing strategies used by this author could you try to incorporate (more) into your own writing?

You'll need to provide evidence to support your answers:  short direct quotations and/or examples, with explanations of how the words on the page convey meaning or purpose.  The RA must be more analysis than summary:  as your audience, I've already read the piece, and am most interested in the kind of responses that only you could generate.

A brief reading analysis (5 points for √+, 4 for √) should be 1-2 pages long; you should highlight 2-5 aspects of or quotations from the piece that caught your attention as a writer, and explain what you're learning from these examples that you can incorporate into your own writing.  You may write this in essay/paragraph format, or use a two- or three-column log (we'll talk about these options).

A check-plus RA will smartly choose and concisely explicate examples with a minimum of summary; it will demonstrate your ability to notice the nuances as well as the broad strokes of good (or not-so-good) writing; it will wrestle with complications; it will show clear, realistic, specific thinking about how to adapt another writer's strategies to improve your own.



Letter: 5 (√+) or 4 (√) points; 1 required

For the letter potluck, draft one long (300+ words) letter or two short (100-200 words) letters to a distinct audience with a clear purpose.  Your letter must address a problem and/or seek to persuade a resistant reader; it may be professional or personal, addressed to an exact real audience or a very vividly and specifically imagined audience.   Pay attention to tone and to time, and keep in mind that people often store letters for years, and/or share them with others.

Bring two copies of your letter(s):  for one copy, attach an audience-analysis paragraph, and annotate the letter with 3-5 comments about strategies you're using to reach that audience.  A check-plus letter will effectively tackle a sticky situation, persuade a resistant audience, handle language especially deftly, and/or propose a "third way" to mediate a problem.

Extra Peer Review: 5 (√+) or 4 (√) points each (optional; max 15 points)

Within one week of a Workshop, read the workshop draft of someone who wasn't in your group and provide specific written feedback (one copy to the author, one copy to me).  You should include three kinds of comments:

  • Pre-reading comments:  from looking at the title and the first few sentences, what do you expect or hope this essay will cover?  what questions would you like the author to answer?  what experience or interest do you already have regarding this topic?
  • Textual annotations:  identify exact phrases and sentences that move you as a reader (why?), as well as places where the author could revise to be more clear or have a stronger effect on readers.
  • Post-reading comments:  These may include your "readerly" reactions—letting the author see what was happening in your head as you read the piece—as well as your "writerly" praise and suggestions for revisions.  Try to help the author re-see this piece:  what (else) could grow from this beginning?  Be sure to respond to any questions in the Feedback Guide.

Your comments should include both specific praise—what works for you?  why?—and specific suggestions and examples of what the writer could try as he or she revises.  The comments should total about 1-2 pages' worth of writing.  At this stage, remember that we're not focused on editing or correcting errors, though if a writer's style is particularly well-suited or ill-suited for the audience and purpose, you may comment on that. 

A check-plus review will balance what the essay's author wants to do/know with new perceptions or suggestions; will point out omissions, opportunities or patterns that aren't obvious to a casual reader; and/or will strongly support the author in learning ways to write (this essay) better.



Journal: 5 points each (max. 15 points total; max. one every other school week)

Keep a writer's journal, handwritten or typed (or combination), that helps you develop your writerly skills for this class.  Your journal entries may include (but are not limited to)

  • extended, regular freewriting
  • prewriting, planning, or writer's-block-breaking, related to workshop assignments
  • writerly notes about what you're reading
  • reflective writing about what's hard or easy for you as a writer or writing-learner
  • responses to exercises suggested in Writing True or another writer's handbook
  • thoughts on peer comments and/or plans for revising workshop drafts

Please don't "double-dip":  your journal writing should not replicate other writing you are turning in for credit, for this or any other class.

To earn journal credit, complete at least 1500 words of writerly writing, and attach a Cover Paragraph in which you highlight the two or three aspects or entries from the journal that have most helped you with the writing you are doing for this class (how so?).  Journals will either earn full credit or, time allowing, be returned with the option to revise and resubmit for credit.

Writing Exercise: 5 (√+) or 4 (√) points each (optional; max 15 points)

At some points in the first half of the term, I may announce an optional writing exercise related to one of the workshops.  Alternately, you may propose to complete a writing exercise that is related to a workshop draft or to an ongoing challenge you face as a writer.  An exercise is more than just a "step in the process" or a journal-type freewrite: it has to deliberately push you to
try something as a writer that you wouldn't normally try, with the purpose of helping you improve the writing you are focused on right now.  

Exercises need to result in 1-2 pages of focused (if not necessarily formal) writing; they need to include a reflective element (like the Cover Paragraph described for the Journal above); they need to be directly related to ongoing work on a class project or goal.  A check-plus exercise will wrestle with a complication, stretch you noticeably beyond your typical writing strategies, and/or clear space for you as a writer on this project that wasn't there before.



First Portfolio Grading

There are many ways to assemble your First Portfolio.  You can complete fewer "big" assignments or more "small" ones; you can try a lot of new things or focus on a couple of kinds of writing or learning; you can work harder in the early weeks and give yourself a breather later on, or vice versa. (You must complete three workshop drafts with commentaries to earn a passing grade on this portfolio.)

You'll need to pace yourself a bit: to encourage you to write steadily while trying lots of new things, I'm limiting what you can turn in right at the end, and giving you the option to "carryover" some points to the Second Portfolio (so you won't feel you've "wasted" effort early in the semester).

No more than 10 points can be earned on materials turned in after March 1.

(Exception: points earned for WW5 & Commentary.)

Up to 10 points (>150) on this portfolio may be carried-over

to your final portfolio.

Please keep track of your own portfolio-building efforts.  You can use the space below to help you plan ahead and keep track of your progress so far.

Sample First Portfolio Pathways







Workshop 1





Commentary 1





Workshop 2



Commentary 2


Workshop 3




Commentary 3




Workshop 4




Commentary 4



Workshop 5



Commentary 5



Full RA


20 (2x)



Brief RA


13 (3x)


9 (2x)





10 (2x)

Extra Peer Rev.
















First Portfolio Quality/Growth Evaluation:  25 points

To earn an "A" for the overall quality and growth demonstrated in your First Portfolio, the collection of pieces needs to exhibit several (but not necessarily all) of the following characteristics:

  • Engaging, thoughtful, provocative, gracefully written workshop drafts
  • A range of writing styles/topics/approaches; adaptability to different audiences/purposes
  • Evidence of risk-taking and/or experimentation as a writer
  • Evidence of growth in or improvement of key writing strategies
  • Awareness of and attention to controlling personal writing strategies/habits
  • Consistency and/or regularity in practicing good writing

First Portfolio Preparation & Participation:  50 points (max.)

  • 3 points available per class meeting ( = 45):  attendance, body and mind; general preparation for and participation in class discussions; completion of reading/writing homework; assistance in building a community of writers
  • 1.5 additional points available per workshop day (= 7.5):  attention to peers' texts, requests, and comments; provision of specific, helpful comments and suggestions
  • Overall grade may go up or down up to 5% (2.5 points) at my discretion for exceptional community-building participation or a pattern of nonparticipation.



Midterm Reflection, Proposal, & Conference:  50 points (max.)

Prepare a 1-2 page reflective letter identifying some key elements of what you've learned and/or accomplished as a writer via the assignments in your First Portfolio.  You may also/instead discuss what you were hoping to learn/accomplish but haven't (yet), and/or what kinds of goals you now think are better suited to your writing/learning.  Your letter should refer specifically to your goals as a writer, for this course and generally.  You should note specific examples from the writing in the portfolio, and draw connections among pieces of writing you've completed so far.  The reflection may be informal in tone/style; it will be graded based on criteria similar to those of the Writer's Commentary.

Then in a 2-4 page proposal, explain your plans for the second half of the semester and persuade me to approve those plans.  Your proposal should contain four sections, each identified with a subheader:

  • a brief Introduction in which you indicate your overall goals (and reasonings therefor) as a writer in the next 7 weeks
  • a Revision Proposal in which you identify at least two earlier pieces of writing that you plan to revise and/or expand for the Second Portfolio; you should note the key challenges you expect to face, and outline the main work that you expect to be doing for each revision
  • a Schedule for working on these revisions (go beyond the due-dates on the syllabus), presented in table format
  • a Conclusion in which you convince me that your plans are reasonable (you can get the work done) and beneficial to you as a writer and writing-learner in this course

The proposal is a formal piece of writing; a grading rubric will be handed out before spring break to help you see and address the criteria. 

Finally, schedule a 20-30 minute conference with me during which we'll review your proposal and discuss your plans for the rest of the semester.  You should come prepared to take an active role in the conference, articulating your goals and asking questions to help you move forward.  (You will turn in your First Portfolio at the conference.)



Second Portfolio Preparation & Participation:  50 points (max.)

  • 3 points available per class meeting (= 33):  attendance, body and mind; general preparation for and participation in class discussions; completion of reading/writing homework; assistance in strengthening a community of writers
  • 2 additional points available per workshop day (= 6):  new draft, guide, & commentary/letter prepared for each workshop; attention to peers' texts, requests, and comments; provision of specific, helpful comments and suggestions; satisfaction ratings by peers will contribute to this grade
  • Completion of key assignments and conferences (12 points)
  • Overall grade may go up or down up to 5% (2.5 points) at my discretion for exceptional community-building participation or a pattern of nonparticipation.

Second Portfolio:  175 points (max.)

Your Second Portfolio should include the following:

A copy of each Workshop Draft and Commentary (even the one[s] you're not revising)

Your Midterm Reflection and Proposal

A new revision/expansion of at least two pieces of your earlier writing for this class, to total 12-15 pages of writing

A new Writer's Commentary or Intro Letter for each revision/expansion; brief introductions to sections of your portfolio to explain why you've selected these pieces or organized them in this particular way (2-5 sentences each??)

Any necessary supporting documentation for research-based writing (photocopies of print sources, etc.)

At least 2-3 other pieces of writing you did—Reading Analyses, Journal Entries, Exercises—that seem relevant to your writerly story

A 3-5 page reflective Introductory or Concluding essay that ties the portfolio together, explains how the pieces therein best represent your efforts and achievements as a writer, and reflects on your status/progress/plans as a readerly writer.  This is your "final exam" for this class—a place to show what you know and what you are learning about writing and being a writer.


Note:  You should give some consideration to the organization of this portfolio, so that it "goes to show" something about you as a writer or supports a larger narrative about your writing or you as a writer.

Evaluation:  Portfolios will be graded on writing quality, as well as on the following:  completion; thoughtfulness and effectiveness of revisions; demonstration of growth, risk-taking, and/or "stretch marks"; evidence of having achieved an awareness of writing processes, rhetorical contexts, and yourself as a writer; and the cohesiveness of the writerly vision or development narrative presented in the final version.  This grade will be holistic: it will take into account all elements of the portfolio, without assigning a point value to any particular part.

Final Portfolios are due by Friday, May 11, 4:00 pm. 

Late portfolios will earn a 5% grade penalty per calendar day late, and cannot be accepted later than Tuesday noon.



Explanation of letter-graded evaluations

A "C" denotes a competent response to the assignment or task at hand:  the essay or portfolio meets, to some degree, all the basic audience expectations, and demonstrates that the author has put significant time and effort into communicating his/her ideas to his/her targeted audience.  Essays have a thesis (or controlling idea), present some support, move from point to point in an orderly fashion, and contribute to the broader conversations on the topic.  Portfolios are complete and organized, and show that the writer is beginning to develop clear revision strategies.

A "B" rewards a strong example of writing and thinking.  In addition to meeting the "C" level requirements, an essay or portfolio demonstrates insight into the "gray areas" of the topic, provides original or very thorough support that is tightly woven into the overall argument, reads smoothly at both the sentence and paragraph levels, and/or exhibits a personal "voice" or style.  It demonstrates that the writer is also a thoughtful reviser and is conscious of his/her writing.  It has few if any grammatical errors.

An "A" is reserved for essays and portfolios that are a delight for the reader—and that probably provided some moments of delight for the writer.  Even more than in a "B" assignment, it is easy to see that the author anticipates and responds to possible reader questions, uses a wide range of supporting evidence, engages the reader in a provocative conversation, takes risks as s/he writes and revises, provides unexpected insight, and uses language with care and facility.

"D" and "F" level assignments do not meet the basic expectations of the assignment/task.

Explanation of check-based evaluations

Generally, a "" denotes a complete, thoughtful response to the assignment.  The writer is using the assignment to go beyond describing what s/he saw or did to reflecting on the how and why and what else? questions related to it.  In this piece, the writer contributes his/her own exact thinking, rather than summarizing others or producing "Engfish."

A "√+" indicates a response in which the writer attends to details, wrestles with complex and perhaps unanswerable questions, takes a lively tone and/or an unexpected point of view, handles language gracefully, and/or engages issues central to his/her or a peer's learning-to-write.







Last updated January 2007.Email Shelley Reid