ePortfolio Voting

For the final we’ll do a few things, neither of which should take more than an hour.

First we’ll hear from each of the project groups about what they made.  What was your project?  Where did the idea come from?  What do you think it accomplishes, shows, helps us understand?

Then we’ll break into groups and view each other’s portfolios.  Look them over, get a sense of what’s in them and how the portfolio represents the work of the writer!

But also pay attention to the ones you think should win prizes.  Here are the categories you all decided on during our last day of class:

  1. Best Narrative Voice
  2. Most Creative/Best Artistic or Aesthetic Choices
  3. Easiest to Navigate
  4. Clearly an Overachiever
  5. Most Unfiltered/Rawest in a good way/”First Album”-type

And who should win our wild card?

Then follow this link and enter the names of the people who designed your favorites!

Big ePortfolio Workshop Day

As I promised on Monday, today we’ll be looking at portfolios and offering comments to other people in a portfolio workshop.  The goal is to “read” the portfolio like you would a piece of writing, commenting on “how it works.”

Sit in groups of 3-4 and click on other people’s portfolios.  Scan through all of the pages!  And read the material you find there, ESPECIALLY the reflective material that should bind everything together.

Then talk to the author about what you see!  Focus on these things:

  • Design seems strong, with all materials organized logically
  • Front page is an introduction to the writer and their work
  • Menu is orderly and gives you easy access to the writer’s most important or meaningful work
  • Visuals are appealing, making you want to stay on each page longer
  • Ease of use means it’s easy to get around, in a minimum of clicks

In this portfolio, can you see evidence of:

  • Reflection about the writers and their development as writers?
  • Discussions of attention and what they learned about it?
  • Revision of essays and projects?
  • An authentic voice, someone who’s more than a student?
  • Connections to material outside this class (2x) and outside school (2x)?
  • Digital design skills?

Offer each portfolio builder some extensive notes on what you’re seeing in their portfolio: what you think is effective, what you like, and what you might work on or improve.  Offer suggestions about how to do that!

Here’s another way to make things look good on your site.

Here are some (I hope) handy examples of ways to lay out materials on your WordPress site.  The goal is to make ePortfolios pretty!  Or at least to show there’s a design at work.  Check these ideas out as you start to pull material together and reflect on it!

First, when I say:

Links to GDocs are nice but boring.  Consider embedding your Google Docs on your ePortfolio site with this one simple trick.

Here’s an example of how to do that.

  1. Open a Google Doc that you own.  Make sure you’re signed in!
  2. Go to Edit–>Publish to the web
  3. Read the popup window, select “Embed,” and click the blue button titled “Publish.”
  4. Copy the embed code you are given.
  5. Go back to your site!
  6. Open the editing screen for the page you want the embed to appear on
  7. At the top right corner of the edit screen, find the “Visual” and “Text” bookmarks and toggle to “Text.”
  8. Paste the embed coding where you want it to appear.  Note: this is HTML/XML coding, the language in which all websites are written.  It looks weird!  But it’s not scary.  Just dump the embed anywhere, no worries.
  9. Then toggle back to “Visual” so you can see how it looks

The result should be something like this below, which I did to our assignments page.


You may need to adjust the width of the embed screen to make it look right.  Look for this bit of code in the “Text”:

/pub?embedded=true” width=”700″ height=”150″

And change the width and height numbers to fit the layout of your website.

Another thing I mentioned was:

Some of this reflective writing could appear in an About Me page.  But more of it should appear throughout the portfolio, as mini-introductions to what you’re showing us.  Use them throughout your ePortfolio!  Again, consider doing a screen-capture.  Think of “Introduce–>Screencap or Pic–>Discussion” as a template for in-portfolio reflections.

What would that look like?

Well, instead of just giving me a link that looks like this

Here’s my paper: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1W4QI5ow0XSHT-5Sh8dXb3lwpLwhzFF1GsOk9tFjSTmk/edit

Or this


Or even this

Here’s my paper

Consider doing something like this:

I also did a lot of revision in this class, as you can see below:

Here the revision was geared toward making my point that [X] was a central part of tutoring writing.  I added this section in order to connect to Mark Hall’s assertion that “Valued Practices” keeps tutor inquiry open and mentorship a form of exploration.

C wut I did ther? Consider taking some “screen captures” of the words or paragraphs you’re particularly proud of and adding them visually to your site.

Then by clicking the “Add Media” button in the upper left hand corner of the edit screen, I was able to add a .jpg into my text. (If you haven’t already uploaded the screencap or other image to your WordPress site, just click “Upload Files” when you’re taken to that screen.  Find it on your computer and add it.)

Then, as in a magazine, what I write surrounds and contextualizes the picture, whatever it turns out to be.

I’d suggest using a technique like this for showing your audience:

  • The kinds of revision you did on your own papers
  • The kinds of comments you made on other people’s work

And introducing:

  • Papers from outside ENGL 130
  • Things you’ve made, done, written, or participated in outside college

These are two ways to start building an engaging site for your artifacts. It starts with making your writing MORE VISUAL, and VISUALLY DESIGNING your ePortfolio for your audience.

There are more–stay tuned!

Your e-Portfolios

If you’ve perused the assignment sheet recently, you will have seen that our final assignment is to design and build an e-portfolio of your work in this class.

What’s an e-portfolio, you ask?

Points you take from these two videos?

You might have noticed my uses of “design” and “build” in the sentences above.  What I want us to explore today are ways for us to think strategically and metacognitively about this as an assignment.

My goal is to create an environment in which you tell me what you’ve learned, not the other way around: where my desire to achieve certain course outcomes is overshadowed by your willingness to experiment, play, and be creative.  Have fun with this!

The process we’ll continue today can be summarized like this:

  • Project
    • What do you want this portfolio to do or be?
    • What do you want it to show about you, the course, your reading, your writing, your ability?
    • Ideally, what would you like to build into it, have it show, make it do?
  • Collect
    • What things from this course will you include?  (List them)
    • What things from other courses might you include?
    • What objects or things from outside school might you include?
  • Select
    • What are the BEST things you’ve done, paragraphs you’ve written, points you’ve made this semester?
    • How has your learning developed OVER TIME?  Point to some things that could show us development.
    • What do you know how TO DO that you didn’t know before?
  • Interject
    • How could this portfolio show an aspect of you that seems real or authentic?  What narrative would you like your portfolio to portray?
    • What elements could you build in that would show you as more than a student?
    • What voice could you use in your reflections that would highlight this narrative?
  • Connect
    • Take out the artifacts that you decided to use that are from other classes or other aspects of your life (or pull them up on your computer).  Put two of them in dialogue:
      How does artifact two
      what artifact one shows us?
    • Put another two in dialogue.  Again, how do they add to, contradict, complement, or complicate each other?
  • Reflect
    • What do you think your coursework in 431 shows us about you?
    • What themes emerge when you compare the writing you’ve done in this class to project/objects/artifacts from these other spaces in your life?
    • What patterns are you starting to see across ALL of this work?
  • Inspect
    • What did the composer of this portfolio do well?
    • What questions did this portfolio raise for you?
    • What did you see looking THROUGH the text–about the content of the portfolio, which should be the author and her writing?
    • What did you see looking AT the text–thinking about the style/voice, design, visual elements, and other typographical features?  Thinking about the portfolio as a text designed to argue a claim?
    • How do your readings of THROUGH and AT match?  (or do they)
    • What would you suggest the author do to the portfolio now?
  • Perfect
    • Revise your e-portfolio based on feedback you got from peers
    • Your audience should be the members of this class PLUS any other family, friends, or future employers you imagine sharing this with!  (Who is primary, who is secondary?)
    • Remember the reflection that should accompany each artifact
    • And the ways you can represent each artifact: picture, reflection, link for each?
    • (Blogs don’t need to stay in “blog form.”  They could be your best, your development, or some combination, and could be on one “static page” instead of appearing in posts)
  • Project (again–forward)
    • Review your portfolio in terms of how you could use it in the future:
      • What does it show about you, the course, your reading, your writing, your ability as a future teacher?
      • How could you continue to add to it?
  • Respect

Today, using these workshop slides, we’ll take a few of these on (Yancey’s slides are here).

If we have time left over, I’d like us to respond to our reading for today.  Let’s take on Yancey’s ideas about a “curricular ecology,” and focus (mostly) on the examples of portfolios and portfolio-making she offers through Kyoung, Josh, and Clarissa.  (This third model–of the “everyday portfolio” that works “at the
intersection of the personal and the public” (Yancey 6)–is what I’d like you all to build.)

In another piece Yancey wrote she addresses the real value of “folio thinking”:

screenshot-2016-11-10-13-06-15And finally, if time today, we should begin mapping the pages and elements in our e-portfolios, and starting to plan out when/where reflective writing will occur–forming the tendons or sinews that connect the bones, which is what we’re calling your written artifacts.

As below:



Jody Shipka and Multimodality

Jody Shipka’s “A Multimodal Task-Based Framework for Composing” presents a pretty strong argument that teachers of writing have been cutting students off from certain aspects of the writing process.

Her discussion of a typical assignment (p. 285) is particularly telling in this regard:

Choose three of the five essays listed below and compose a four-to-five-page argumentative typewritten essay in response to those essays. Double space your text, use a 12-point standard font and 1-inch margins all around, and make sure your thesis statement is clear, arguable, and underlined; make sure the piece is structured logically and that your work is carefully proofread.

Her argument in the paragraph below seems to be: look at how many writing choices students DON’T have to make.

Here, the scope and purpose of the work are already established for the student [ . . .] The methods, materials, and technologies he or she is expected to employ are also predetermined: reading and critically engaging the assigned texts, using at least three of these as the basis for a logically structured linear argumentative essay, the use of paper plus some device that produces print text, etc. Equally problematic is the way the prompt suggests a logic of composing that proceeds in an orderly, top-down manner [ . . .] More troubling still, nothing about the ways in which, or the specific conditions under which, students’ work will be collected and assessed. In fact, to imagine the assignment reading “Once the paper is finished, you will pass this forward in class, and the instructor will read it, respond to it, and then provide you with a grade,” could seem silly, a way of stating the obvious. After all, what else might one possibly imagine doing?

Her snarky tone, I think, is indicative of her more radical point.  It could make sense to some that removing questions of design from a piece of writing might free up the writer to concentrate more on her words.  However, when framed against the world of rhetorical decisions people make in order to compose things–not just the paper and font choices but considerations about the production, uptake, reception, and potential response to their compositions–it seems imperative that we use the composition course to introduce students to the “complex communicative tasks” they will face the rest of their lives.

Shipka summarizes:

Taken together, these accounts suggest that, when called upon to set their own goals and to structure the production, delivery, and reception of the work they accomplish in the course, students can: (1) demonstrate an enhanced awareness of the affordances provided by the variety of media they employ in service of those goals; (2) successfully engineer ways of contextualizing, structuring, and realizing the production, distribution, delivery, and reception of their work; and (3) become better equipped to negotiate the range of communicative contexts they find themselves encountering both in and outside of school.

So let’s look over the accounts she offered in this article.  In groups, perhaps at your tables, select one of the following “case studies”:

  1. Lindsay Freeberg
  2. Prakas Itarut
  3. Maggie Christiano
  4. Karen Rust
  5. Mike Ragano

And scan for that name in the article.  (Remember that many of these students appear throughout Shipka’s essay–not just where you first found them!)  Then work with your team to answer these questions:

  • What was their composed product, their piece?
  • What kinds of planning did they engage in to get the piece completed?  How did they figure out WHAT they wanted to do and WHY?
  • What evidence did you see of their critical engagement or rhetorical flexibility?
  • How did you think the form of their piece enhanced our understanding of their point, their purpose for writing?

We’ll have brief presentations on each of their compositions.  Then I’d like you all to tackle the same questions in your project groups!  Please discuss your answers to them and make sure you’re all on the same page.

  • the product(s) [you] will formulate in response to a given task—this might take the form of a printed text, a performance, a handmade or repurposed object, or, should students choose to engineer a multipart rhetorical event, any combination thereof
  • the operations, processes, or methodologies that will be (or could be) employed in generating that product—depending on what students aim to achieve, this might involve collecting data from texts, conducting surveys, interviews or experiments, sewing, searching online, woodworking, filming, recording, shopping, staging rehearsals, etc.
  • the resources, materials, and technologies that will be (or could be) employed in the generation of that product—again, depending on what they aim to achieve this could involve, paper, wood, libraries, computers, needle and thread, stores, food, music, glue, tape, etc.
  • the specific conditions in, under, or with which the final product will be experienced—this involves determining or otherwise structuring the delivery, reception, and/or circulation of their final product. (Shipka 287)

I hope that through this process questions will emerge about ways to get started on your final project.  But what Shipka really seems to show us is the engaged and useful but difficult task of realizing a document or text in the “outside world,” where questions of what I’m writing/building, for whom, and why often can’t be answered with “anyone” and “to inform them.”  Perhaps another problem with formulaic school writing is that students aren’t taught to wrestle with these real rhetorical issues more often and more directly as they compose–in fact, as Shipka says, that those choices are denied them?

Well, with this project, your teams won’t be!

I also hope that with teams as big as these, each member of the group has a good idea of their role in the entire project and that as a group, you can establish a timeline so that work gets done efficiently.

And check these out, just for fun:

Drawings that students from a few years ago did of their writing process.  What kind of multimodal artifact could you make of all of these drawings?

Final Project Choices

Hey everyone, short post today.  Today we turn in Deep Dive papers and turn attention to our final project(s), your portfolio and a more “front-facing” and public text about tutoring and mentoring.

First, please share your paper with me, if you haven’t done so already, and update the author’s note that you left at the top.  The three questions you answer (now written to me) are:

  1. What do you think is going well in your paper so far?  What do you like?
  2. What is not going so well, or where did the paper run off track?
  3. What kinds of questions do you have at this point about the paper or your argument?

As before, I’ll read these in the next week and get them back to you with comments you can use to revise.

Now on to a continued conversation about our work ahead.  We have a little over a month to:

  • Build a portfolio of your work in which you reflect on the development of your understanding about tutoring and mentoring writing, presenting your work as evidence of that development
  • Collaborate (or not) on a public, “front-facing” document or text of any kind in which you present an idea about writing to an audience who could learn from you

Let’s talk about the second one first.

Our conversations so far have resulted in some options.  As you can see from the picture above, we’ve begun to talk about options for taking our work to date into a new form, a process lots of people call “remix” or “remediate.”  As with all writing, the choice you make should be based on your communicative purpose, your incipient expertise, and your knowledge of (or willingness to explore) a genre in which to communicate and a particular audience to communicate to.

Soooo . . .

Many ideas have come forward.

Let’s start then by writing for five minutes about your tentative ideas.  What interests you most in our discussions so far?  What kinds of things might you enjoy working on?


If I set the end of class as a deadline, can you organize yourselves into teams and write a brief proposal to me that would cover these elements:

  1. What genre or kind of text you want to build
  2. For what purpose, to communicate what knowledge or perspective about (mentoring/tutoring) writing in college
  3. To what audience, and why
  4. Who’s on your team, and what’s your plan for work equity

Could we do that?  Turn into me by email and I will respond by Monday.


Peer Critiques for Deep Dive Papers

Today we’ll do some peer critique.  People have often said that they come to understand their work most deeply when they talk and write to each other about texts and ideas.  They also say that writing responses to other people’s writing helps them to reflect on their own approach to an assignment by seeing how other students handled a similar task.  So written peer feedback offers an immediate audience that should be very useful at all stages of your inquiry.

Peer critique workshops can be incredibly helpful if people take them seriously, as an opportunity to give and receive feedback on writing-in-process.  We should start by reviewing the assignment itself.

To make this day run smoothly, please do these things:


First, share your work via Google Docs/Drive with at least two people sitting near you. Best to share in Google Docs now.  Uploading your paper now to GDocs will make sharing it with me easier, and also allow me to see how people are responding to your work:

  • Go to the Chico State website
  • Click on Email–>Wildcat Email
  • Click on Google Drive Login
  • Login with your Chico State email and PW
  • Upload your paper by clicking the blue NEW button–>File Upload
  • Double-click on the paper when it appears in your drive
  • Click on the blue Share button
  • Enter the email addresses of the two people who’ll respond to your paper.  Make sure they CAN EDIT, not just CAN COMMENT
  • Class GDocs experts, help the less-expert among you!


Now open your paper in Google Docs and freewrite some answers to these three questions.  10 minutes.  Leave your answers right at the top of your paper!

  1. What do you think is going well in your paper so far?  What do you like?
  2. What is not going so well, or where did the paper run off track?
  3. What kinds of questions do you have at this point about the paper or your argument?

Your answers to these questions will also help me as I read and respond to your papers.  I’ll read them first to orient ourselves to your writing process.

Then, as you begin talking with people in your workshop group, tell your readers what you’ve done so far, where you stopped writing, and what questions you have about your writing that they can help answer.  They should do the same for you.


Here are some suggestions about responding (commenting, questioning, suggesting revisions):

  • When you read drafts, focus your comments on the ideas and arguments in the drafts, then perhaps the organization, and generally not on grammar.  Note any typos or grammatical errors on the drafts if you want to, but please do not comment on grammar in the written response you write or spend much time on correcting it.
  • Make lots of comments on their drafts!  But say more than “good” or “fix this”–nothing is less helpful than a reader who doesn’t provide a rationale for their suggestions or questions.
  • Instead, ask the writer questions, provide ideas about sources, and comment on ideas, organization, and so on.  If using Google Docs, use the commenting function in  to leave your suggestions in bubbles outside the paper itself.

A few things I hope you’ll keep in mind as we read each other’s papers:

  • In Google Docs the easiest way to make a comment bubble appear is to highlight a section of text you want to comment on and then comment with a comment “bubble”:

Crtl+Alt+M on Windows computers

  • There’s also a handy “add comment” button in the righthand margin.
  • If papers are shared with other people, you may find yourself responding to your readers’ comments as well. That’s fine! Agree with the responder but push it further; or disagree and say why.


After finishing these steps, write up two peer critiques of at least 2 paragraphs in which you flesh out the concerns, questions, and suggestions you made in the draft.  Expand on your earlier comments!  That is, use your marginal comments as ideas for your longer peer critique.

In it make sure to do a few things:

  • Walk the author through how you read the draft.  Offer a “movie of your mind.”
  • Highlight what you think works well in the paper right now
  • Ask questions you think the author should consider
  • List at least 2-3 specific things the author should do in revision
  • Tell the author why you made these suggestions

So what’s due is a 2-paragraph peer critique of each of the two papers you read, using the questions above.

Save them in Google Docs or upload them to your WordPress site; either way, they will be helpful additions to your final portfolio.  Share with the writers of those papers by emailing them your comments or sharing electronically some other way.


Finding and Synthesizing Research for your “Deep Dives”

Today I pledged that we’d spend time talking about finding and reading research that might be valuable for your Deep Dive assignment.  (More detail about the assignment is at the Assignments page, of course.)

When I think about your task, gathering research on a subject related to mentoring or tutoring academic writing, the job starts to break into discrete questions.  Where should I look?  What databases have links to those sources?  What search terms could I use?

You’re entering the scholarship of the field of rhetoric, composition, and literacy studies, which you’ve gotten only a taste of so far in this course.  I don’t expect it will be easy to track down sources that you can use.  But these ideas and links should make your work more focused and efficient.

Where should I look? 

For people who want to see what other writing issues tutors deal with, and how to theorize/research them, tutoring-specific journals have a lot of great insights!  Try:

For more informal and voiced responses to tutoring writing, there are also some good sites on peer tutoring, which cover issues and questions of tutoring a bit more directly:

For people who want to scan for specific keywords or ideas in titles of published articles, the Writing Centers/Learning Centers Bibliography at the WAC Clearinghouse is good too.  (n.b.: WAC, or “writing across the curriculum,” is always a writing center concern because students come to writing centers from all majors and departments, not just English)

For people who want to see what “policy” is (or should be) across writing centers, and why, the International Writing Centers Association has a good collection of position statements:

What databases have links to writing center journals?

What keywords and search terms should I use?

Play with different ones.  Use the sources we’ve covered in jigsaw teaching/learning: Bad Ideas and Naming What We Know.  Check out titles and terms in the “for further information” sections that end each section or sub-chapter.  Scan the chapters for other terms you might use!

Please also ask me what terms might be useful for a specific topic or question.

For people who are working with mentoring and mentorship, it might be more difficult to find sources or ideas you feel are relevant to your job here.  What Kim’s created in the Jumbo and she and I have run for years in ENGL 30 workshops are unique in more than a few ways.  Still, you might find ideas if you look for terms like:

And so on.

Do you have some models of this assignment that I can look at, to get a better sense of what you’re looking for?

Yes!  Here are two from last semester:

  1. Keyword Paper: Deliberate Practice
  2. Keyword: Plagiarism

These papers differ from your assignment in that they were focused solely on keywords, not ideas or questions; and didn’t explicitly push toward deliverables and takeaways at the end (“So what can we do to help student writers re: this issue?” or “What would we want teachers to know?”).  Yours does.

Still, the models will offer you a good sense of the tone, format, and argumentative purpose that a paper like this can accomplish, as well as the ways writers incorporate different sources into a cohesive whole.

Let’s take the period today and work to refine our ideas and resources for the Deep Dive. I’ll be milling around: let me know if you want to talk!

What if I’m still stuck?

Let’s talk in my office sometime soon!  You might also think about how this assignment involves synthesis, or the practice of showing how your sources overlap or conflict.  That’s the major purpose of this piece: to show what research you find in a cogent way and tell us what you think it means.

What would it mean to synthesize the sources you find?  On Wednesday I’ll refer you all to these two documents, Synthesizing Sources in your Deep Dive and Language of Synthesis.