LA10 and AP Lang. Portfolio Pointers

Don’t forget your EXAM portfolios are due Monday–and worth 20% of your semester grade! Also don’t forget that I WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY PORTFOLIOS LATE! (I have to get them all graded, you know!)

Here are some pointers as you are completing the portfolio:

  • Think of the letter as a persuasive piece. While the directions pretty much tell you what I want you to write about in your letter to me, you should also think of this as a persuasive piece of writing–you are trying to persuade me that you learned a bunch of stuff and, therefore, deserve a good grade. So, for example, don’t assume that just because you may have gotten an A or B on everything that you will automatically get an A or B on your portfolio. You still have to let me know what you LEARNED from doing those A or B assignments. Or, let’s say that one of the pieces I require you to include didn’t get a very good grade when you turned it in. You HAVE to put it in your portfolio, so what are you going to do? First, don’t assume that means you’re going to do badly on your portfolio. Second,  do NOT try to pretend that it was a great piece of work if it wasn’t (see below). Instead, reflect on WHY the piece didn’t get a good grade and what you could do differently in the future. Sometimes, you can learn a lot from NOT getting a good grade on something!
  • But remember I have known you for 20 weeks: On the other hand, don’t try to BS or schmooze me–it won’t work. For example, please don’t try to convince me that you deserve an A or a B on your portfolio or that you “worked really hard” if we both know you missed a bunch of assignments, didn’t use class time well, etc. You would do MUCH better to acknowledge your mistakes and reflect on how you could improve.
  • Make sure you make specific references to pieces in your portfolio in your letter to me. That’s called logical appeal. You may have heard of it somewhere…
  • If you want to convince me you have learned something about writing, your cover letter should probably demonstrate that. 
  • Choose any “optional” pieces wisely: Do not just include more things that demonstrate the same skills as your required pieces in your optional section. It’s not about having more “stuff.” That just means I have to read more–which is likely to annoy me. Only put in optional pieces to show me something your required pieces DO NOT show. For example, let’s say that you choose to put in your persuasive paper because it was the best grade you earned on a major paper–but that grade still wasn’t too  good. What you could do is put your first major paper–your narrative–in your optional section EVEN THOUGH IT IS A LOWER GRADE than the paper you put in the required section. On your “Why I Choose It” slip, you could draw my attention to the fact that, even though neither paper grade was stellar, you DID improve on your second paper. Or, consider including things that I didn’t require to show your effort. For example, you can include notes or grammar entries to show class participation, copies of pages of your agenda to show you kept track of assignments, Scholastics submission forms if you submitted more than the required pieces, etc. There are many possibilities. Just make sure you have a reason for putting things in.
  • Don’t assume all hope is lost if you’re not exactly the top scholar in class. First, remember that a good chunk of the portfolio grade is simply DOING it and following directions. But, more importantly, when I’m evaluating you, I’m looking for mastery OR improvement. If you’ve failed every assignment, you probably are not going to get an A on your portfolio. BUT, you turn in a complete portfolio AND if you can convince me–and provide some proof–that you have improved (if even from a 32% to a 59%!) you won’t fail the exam. I promise!

Finally, LA 10 students, I know some of you need the information sheet. I still can’t post it, but I will as soon as the school H drives are available!

Good luck, and be proud of what you have accomplished this semester!

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