Sample Portfolio Guide 2

Scroll down for portfolio guidelines, principles to revise, and sample "process letters."

Portfolio Guidelines

The final exercise, in place of an exam, is a portfolio. The portfolio is due by 5 PM Monday, December 10 in my box outside Bryan 219.


1. Choose three essays to revise.

2. Choose three of the principles below to revise. (This means three principles per paper. That is, you may choose to revise the same three principles in each essays, but not one principle per essay.)

3. Choose principles that actually need substantial revision in the essay. (That is, don't say, "I looked at my paper for evidence, and my evidence is all really good.")

4. Address global principles first. If you had trouble establishing your claim or need better consequences, you must address those issues before moving onto local/style principles.

5. Write a process letter to accompany each essay. This letter should address each aspect of the paper you've revised, with a brief definition (what the principle is, why it is important to clear, well-written academic writing) and why you've changed it.

6. Revise the entire essay for the principles you address (don't just find one or two examples).

7. Check for spelling, typos, and grammar. This does not count as one of the three principles, but these problems will affect the final grade.

8. Turn in all three versions of the papers you revise, along with my comments.

9. Put all of the portfolio materials in some sort of soft folder.

10. Submit revisions and process letters to the class web site.

Please Note: Your portfolio grades are based on how well you've selected, revised, and explained the principles you choose&emdash;not on the original grade for the essay. Thus, it is possible for an essay that originally received an A- to receive a C in the portfolio, and vice versa.

Principles to Revise

These are listed more or less in order from most global to most local.
Global principles:

* Claim (surprising, debatable, supportable with reasons and evidence)

* Reasons (clearly supports claim, different from one another, supportable with evidence)

* Evidence (clearly supports reason, verifiable, specific)

* Problem statement (status quo/destabilizing condition/consequences/resolution)

* Acknowledgment and response

* Conclusion (claim/consequences/guide to the next step)
Local principles:

* Transitions between paragraphs

* Issue/discussion within paragraph

* Topic strings within paragraph

* Characters and actions within sentences

* Nominalization within sentences

* Short stuff before the verb within sentences

* Works cited page, proper citation

Process Letter Sample Paragraphs 

The process letter can be informal (no introduction, no conclusion, use "I").

The first way that I revised this essay was to add more evidence. Evidence is a way of proving that your reason is true by drawing on facts that most people agree on, or could look up if they had to. In the first version of this essay, I did not have much evidence, and my paper was not very persuasive as a result. In this version, I used more statistics from the articles we read, and included quotations from the movie about Broadway revivals. Some examples of this are in paragraph 4, where I included the information from a New York Times article, "Broadway Bound," and the editorial in Variety, and in paragraph 5, where I added a quotation from the scene in the movie in which Vincent Canby offers his opinions.

Finally, I examined each paragraph to make sure that there was short stuff before the verb. Short stuff before the verb means that there should not be too many words before the verb in any sentence, because readers have an easier time understanding short bundles of information. For example, in paragraph 3, the sentence originally read, "Quaker-led movements for prison reform in the nineteenth century occasionally met with criticism." I rewrote it as, "In the nineteenth century, Quakers led a movement to reform prisons. Some people criticized their efforts." In paragraph 4, I changed "Preventing multiple returns to serious crime by criminals was one goal of prison reform" to "Reformers sought to prevent criminals from repeating their crimes." I changed most paragraphs this way; however, I left some complicated sentences in paragraph 2, since the ideas in it are fairly straightforward, and using short stuff before the verb might make it feel too simplistic.