Some E-Portfolio Thoughts

When we were first introduced to the e-portfolio at the beginning of the semester I sort of just brushed it off as another assignment I’d have to throw together in the midst of another busy semester. However, after looking through past portfolios, beginning to explore sites like wordpress and weebly, and discussing aspects of a successful portfolio in class, I’m not going to like…I’m getting sort of excited. I’m definitely a bit nervous that the sites will be harder to navigate than I’m expecting, or that I’ll have a clear vision in my head but then not be able to execute it on the site. As for now, I guess I should just focus on developing that clear vision in the first place…

Another aspect of the portfolio I hadn’t given much thought to is the idea of using these portfolios in a professional setting. I thought the story Naomi told us about the student who used the QR code on his resume was such a brilliant idea. It’s exciting to think of these portfolios as less of a “school assignment” and more as a representation of ourselves that we can use in other contexts outside of school.

A Retrospective Understanding

Last week we were asked to find a blog to present to the class, and I settled upon Humans of New York. I claimed I was not someone who followed blogs, but since then I’ve found myself stumbling back to this webpage more and more. I recently came across this man who states, “I moved here because there was a lot I didn’t like about myself in Pennsylvania. I knew everybody. And everyone knew me. I wanted a chance to not know anybody. And I wanted a chance for nobody to know me.”

I couldn’t help to begin thinking about my own life. When people ask me why I came to Michigan from California I usually answer with a smattering of, “I wanted popular sports teams, the big campus feel, excellent professors…” I think this is true. But I also think I wanted a chance to not know anybody. And I wanted a chance for nobody to know me.

I had this wonderful idea that I was going to be a completely different person in college — that I would leave behind all of my faults and insecurities and be a perfect, magnificent version of myself. I thought I was going to recreate myself as someone else, but in reality I came across the country and recreated myself as the same person I was at home. I have the same types of friends, the same ambitions, the same insecurities, and the same personality I’ve always had. I’ve learned that you can’t force yourself to become someone else just by moving to a new environment. You will simply be yourself… in a new environment.

In other news, I wonder how the man from Pennsylvania is doing.

“Making A Case For Rhetorical Grammar” by Laura Michicce

In Laura Micciche’s piece, “Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar” she makes a crucial distinction between grammar as formal, “school grammar” and grammar as “rhetorical grammar”. School grammar is unpopular among students and teachers alike. It is something many of us dread because it is focused on errors and things we need to fix. It is often associated with poor writing and “low skills”. Micciche urges us to redefine our understanding of grammar as rhetorical grammar — a broader way of using words and punctuation to think and articulate ideas and relationships.

Micciche argues that rhetorical grammar should be seen as something that is linked to thinking and composing. She explains that, “writing involves cognitive skills at the level of idea development and at the sentence level.” There is meaning in every grammatical choice we make, from pronoun choice to comma usage. Building on this idea, Micciche also explains the connection between what we say and how we say it. This is something I have always been aware of as a writer, and something I think is extremely important. The same point can be made in hundreds of different ways, but sometimes what sets one argument apart from the rest is the way it is constructed on the sentence level.

Micciche also argues for the importance of rhetorical grammar analysis in classrooms because it can be applied to broader concepts, for example civic discourse. She uses an example of President Bush’s speech to the UN regarding the events of September 11th in which her students were able to analyze the rhetorical grammar used in the speech to reveal how grammar can create a specific meaning.

Overall, I really enjoyed Micciche’s piece. It made me think back to taking AP Language and Composition in high school, a class that I absolutely loved. We used to always analyze and dissect the rhetorical devices used in various essays, similar to the student excerpts Micciche includes in her essay. It’s been a long time since I analyzed an essay in this way, and I’m really glad to read a piece that brings this idea of rhetorical grammar back into the forefront of my mind.

Humans of New York

I really don’t follow one particular blog — or any blog for that matter — so when I sat down to write this post I felt a bit lost. Soo should I google “cool blogs”… or…? I decided against that one. Anything appearing under a “cool blog” search is probably not a cool blog. I racked my brain for a couple more minutes and finally remembered a link I’d seen on Facebook a while back: Humans of New York

From my non-blog-following-perspective, Humans of New York is everything an awesome blog should be. It started in 2010 when University of Georgia graduate Brandon Stanton began photographing people on the streets of New York in the hopes of creating a photographic census. But as he explains in the “About” section, “somewhere along the way, HONY began to take on a much different character.” Now, his blog consists not just of photos, but of quotes and stories to give a glimpse into the lives of each human.

Humans of New York is simple, inspiring, sad, beautiful, funny, and often quite surprising. It compiles the lives of children, teenagers, men, and women at all different stages of life. There are businessmen, immigrants, artists, students, friends, and couples to name a few. It makes you realize that nobody is average, normal, or unimportant. It makes you think, smile, laugh, appreciate, and learn from surprising sources. It leaves you with a sense of community and connectivity to people you have never met and most likely will never meet. It is an awesome blog.

Plus, Brandon looks like a pretty fun guy.


Rosenwasser & Stephen – Analyzing Style

While analyzing a final exam paper I wrote last semester for HJCS 277 The Land of Israel/Palestine Through the ages, I found it hard to decipher one “go to” sentence shape. I assume this is because after years of English class I have been taught to be cognizant of my sentence structure and vary it as much as possible. One thing I did notice is that I start many sentences with the word “however” (Ironically, I was about to write this sentence as ‘however, I did notice that I start many of my sentences with…”). The use of “however” seems to serve as a way to introduce several ideas within complicated topics. I’ll state one thing, but then use however to show that it’s not necessarily so simple and there are other sides to the argument or other important factors to acknowledge. In this paper in particular I noticed that my diction and tone were definitely more formal. While this make sense for the specific assignment, I do notice myself using a more formal tone in the majority of my writing. It simply feels less risky. I don’t have to worry about constructing a poor narrative or trying to add in a failed attempt at a beautiful metaphor.  Yet at the same time, I don’t want my writing to fall in to Rossenwasser and Stephen’s category of “tone deaf”. It is important to remind myself that casual, humorous, or elegant writing all have their place, and to be conscientious of where I can incorporate them into my day to day writing. 

Orwell and Didion Response

In Orwell’s essay “Why I Write” two main things stuck out to me. First was his breakdown of the four great motives for writing. I definitely identified with the first two, “sheer egoism” and “aesthetic enthusiasm” over the latter two “historical impulse” and “political purpose”. While the term sheer egoism does not necessarily have the best connotation, I still agree with Orwell in that a good writer needs to be confident, believe in what they are writing, and be willing to take risks to stand out. I also love the term aesthetic enthusiasm. It’s such a perfect way to describe this idea of arranging every word with a purpose, and definitely something I strive for in my own work. The second part of Orwell’s essay that stuck out to me was the line, “In any case I find that by the time you have perfected any style of writing, you have always outgrown it”. I find this to be so true when I look at old essays that I thought were my best work at the time. However, looking back at them they seem juvenile and lacking so many new techniques I’ve learned since writing them.

In Didion’s piece, also titled, “Why I Write” her last line, “had I known the answer to any of these questions I would never have needed to write a novel” really resonated with me. In high school I was so used to writing one dimensional papers in which I knew exactly what I was going to prove and how I was going to prove it before I even started. It was not until college that I was pushed to write essays in which you explore and search for answers with your audience, coming to new conclusions and understandings as the end result. Now that I have written papers like this I have a much better idea of what Didion means.