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ENG 1113 & 1213: Portfolio Assignment

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Writing Portfolio Assignment

 Sample Cover Letter    Sample Cover Page


For both ENG 1113 and 1213, students will submit a final portfolio, worth 65% of their grade. This portfolio includes a cover letter that argues for the grade students feel they deserve in the class, two newly revised essays picked from all essays handed in this semester, and the graded first drafts of those essays.  The portfolio itself will have a cover page that uses the MLA header for essays.  Students will center this header on a sheet of paper and attach it to the top of the portfolio.  I will grade the portfolio as one grade worth 100 points. All items should follow MLA formatting guidelines. The contents should follow this order:

  1. Cover page

  2. Cover letter

  3. Revision Essay 1 (with checklist)

  4. Revision Essay 1 rough draft(s)

  5. Revision Essay 2 (with checklist)

  6. Revision Essay 2 rough drafts(s)


Not following this order or leaving an item out will result in a letter grade deduction from the portfolio.


The Cover Letter:  This one to two page letter functions as a microtheme argument essay. If it is shorter than one page, you will receive a 5 point deduction for every 5 lines that it falls short. You are to argue what grade you deserve in this class and provide specific evidence to back up the grade you choose.  Please consider the following sections on your syllabus when arguing for your grade: Civility; Academic Honesty; Attendance; Grading; Course Outcomes.


The letter should follow the essay format:  introduction (context for the letter and purpose, identifies what your expectations were at the beginning of the semester for yourself and the class; ends in a thesis that states the grade you feel you deserve); body paragraphs (each short paragraph should identify an area you think proves you have earned the grade; you should provide evidence from class and class work that supports this argument); conclusion (restates the argument, addresses how you have grown as a writer Ė unless you have covered this in your body paragraphs; addresses areas you still feel you can work on; leaves me with a final strong impression of why you have earned the grade). See the sample at the end of this handout.


NOTE: if you argue for a grade lower than the one you have earned point-wise in class, I will not lower your grade. Please do not indulge in fantasy (arguing for a grade that you have not truly earned) or false modesty (arguing for a lower grade than you really have earned because you donít want to appear immodest).  I am looking for an honest assessment of your performance because self-assessment is an important quality independent writers cultivate.  This letter could be the difference for borderline students.


Letter Formatting:

  1. Do not use my address or your address. Simply use the date at the very top left side of your letter, double space after the date, and then use the salutation: Dear Ms. McBride:

  2. You will not have an enclosure line at the bottom.

  3. Use block formation like it is in the example Ė each paragraph is not indented. Instead, you skip a line between each paragraph.

  4. Be sure you follow the spacing as shown in the example below. Note the difference in spacing between paragraphs and within paragraphs.

  5. Be sure you not only type your name but sign it as well, using blue or black ink.


Revision Essays:

Choose the two essays you wish to revise. Even students with an A should submit new revisions.  For A students, revision will be mainly in areas like: removing wordiness, using concrete rather than abstract or vague language (e.g., it, things, really, very, just, a lot, etc.), using stronger verbs (look for places to replace to be, to do, to have, to go, to get Ė writers often fall back on these more bland verbs when more colorful, active language exists), sentence variety, and tone.  You may even see opportunities to improve organization or fix formatting errors.  For this portfolio, formatting errors may cost you more than they did in the first drafts.


The portfolio is due no later than noon on the last day of finals week (though students may turn in portfolios any time before then). There are no exceptions to this rule, so do not wait until the last minute and find you have computer or printer problems.  I am warning you now that I will not accept it later than the above times. 


Please submit your portfolio either stapled or clipped together (IETV and online students will email me their portfolio as a single file Ė I have rough drafts already, so do not include any drafts other than the newest ones). Do not use a binder or folder of any kind Ė doing so will result in a 10 point deduction from your grade.  You can put your papers in the tray attached to my office door, Scott 8. You may also hand it to me personally in class before any of my finals begin. Check the schedule on my door for my finals times.




(do not type this or use the page number header above on your cover page)




















Student Name

McBride, Class and Day/Time

Due Date of Assignment

Writing Portfolio






















30 April 2006


Dear Ms. McBride:


When I first enrolled in ENG 1113, I was full of trepidation.  I had last attended school in 1988, so I knew my study skills would be rusty.  I had also not written anything other than emails and the occasional report since leaving high school.  Since writing has always been a weakness of mine, I expected this class would be a struggle.  In all honesty, I admit that this has not been my favorite class because of that self-doubt; however, now that I have come to the end of the semester, I am surprised at how well I have done.  Based on my participation and attitude, my overall essay performance, and how much Iíve grown as a writer, I believe I deserve a B in this course.


Though participation and attitude only count for a small percentage of the grade, I believe I have performed at an A level in this area.  I have always come prepared for class and volunteered comments during class discussion.  When I did not understand something we were discussing in class, I would ask a question rather than just go along.  For example, the first time we talked about thesis statements, I was completely lost. Since no one else seemed lost, I almost did not raise my hand; however, I knew that if I did not get this right, then I would be seriously in trouble when it came time to writing that essay.  So, I asked a question and was surprised at how many of the other students nodded and seemed to need the same information.  Finally, I have always presented work following the guides of the assignment. This reflects my serious attention to detail that characterizes a student on an A or B level. These reasons show that I deserve a high grade in this area.


On my essays, I consistently earned high Bs.  The two essays I have included in this portfolio represent the level of work I have presented in the class.  You have commented on my papers that my content is very good but that my grammar and mechanics tend to be too sloppy for higher grades.  When I revised, I could see the typos, the missed words, and the occasional verb error or sentence error that brought the grade down.  I have made every effort to fix these problems, but I know I still need improvement.  For this reason, I believe that my work, though A quality in content and essay structure, is only a B because of the cosmetic flaws.


Finally, I believe my best case for a B lies in my improvement overall as a writer.  I have grown so much since that first essay.  In that paper, I made common mistakes like problems with coherence and paragraph unity.  I didnít always stay focused on my topic sentences.  In these revision papers, you will notice that those areas have improved dramatically.  I understand now about staying focused on the message I want to communicate to my reader.  This is perhaps the biggest lesson I learned about writing this semester.


Based on my class performance, essay grades, and growth as a writer, I believe I deserve a B in this class.  I know I have much more to learn about writing. I want to sharpen my style, especially in the area of wordiness. However, I have consistently performed at a high level. The three Bs Iíve earned on essays are the most compelling evidence to award me a B in the class, and the other related areas only offer more support for that grade.  Though I certainly doubted my abilities to perform well in this class at the beginning of the semester, I am proud of what I have accomplished.  I will never love writing, but I do now know that I can put together a coherent paper that communicates my purpose.  That is a huge step forward for me personally.





John Q. Student





Follow this cover letter with your first revised essay and the graded drafts of that essay. Follow that with your second revised draft and graded drafts. (Online and IETV students - read exception to this here)