how to learn English speaking and how to learn English speaking fast at home
FOR THE TEACHING OF
ENGLISH 87: BASIC WRITING SKILLS II
COMPOSED ON SABBATICAL LEAVE
BY ROBERT BINI
SAN JOAQUIN DELTA COLLEGE
Table of Contents
Introduction……………………………………………………………. p. 3
Interview: English 70 Coordinator…………………………………. p. 5
English 87 Portfolio Requirements………………………………… p. 9
Frequently Asked Questions…………………………………………… p. 10
Results of Portfolio Readings…………………………………………... p. 22
Comparable Courses……………………………………………………. p. 23
Planning the Semester………………………………………………….. p. 27
Curriculum Outline………………………………………………………. p. 31
Learning Activities……………………………………………………….. p. 37
Responding to Student Writing 1………………………………………. p. 43
Responding to Student Writing 2………………………………………. p. 49
Case Study 1……………………………………………………………... p. 54
Case Study 2……………………………………………………………… p. 64
Sample Handouts………………………………………………………… p. 72
Sample Lesson Plans…………………………………………………… p. 76
Sample Writing Topics…………………………………………………… p. 78
Sample Narrative Essay………………………………………………… p. 87
Sample Argumentative Essay………………………………………….. p. 90
Sample Syllabus…………………………………………………………. p. 94
Sample Course Packet………………………………………………….. p. 101
Bibliography………………………………………………………………. p. 116
English 87 is a place where two tributaries meet before entering into the
main river of English 79. The two tributaries are English 70 and English
85. In English 87, native and near-native English speakers from English 70
are introduced to the English 85 students who have just completed the
English as a Second Language program. While native English speakers do
enroll in the course, most students in English 87 are non-native English
speakers. For example, eighteen of the twenty-two students who
completed one section in the fall of 2007 were ESL students. Originally
designed as a bridge course for ESL students, English 87 in the past year
has been serving more native and near-native English speakers as the
English 70 program has developed. With the possibility of even more
growth in the near future, English 87 seeks to continue to improve basic
writing skills of students before they enroll in English 79, Preparatory
In the spring of 2006, the course curriculum of English 87 was revised to
institute a mandatory portfolio examination to be evaluated by a group of
English 87 instructors at the end of the semester. The new curriculum
also aligned the entry skills of English 87 with the exiting skills of
students completing English 70 and English 85 and established more
precise course objectives, which ensure that students completing English
87 have the fundamental skills necessary for entering English 79. Since
the English 87 portfolio requirements involve an objective summary, a
subjective response, a narrative essay, and an argumentative essay, the
curriculum includes these as sample writing activities for the course. With
the change in curriculum, more students have been recommended to
enroll in English 87 than in years past; as a result, English 87 has grown in
the number of sections offered in a semester. Before the fall of 2005,
English 87 was usually limited to one or two sections, but the number of
sections has increased, and the course now has three or four sections in
the fall and spring semesters.
Another change in curriculum concerned prerequisite courses. English 87
now requires successful completion of English 70 or English 85 in order to
enroll in English 87. An advisory committee of composition course
coordinators and faculty in the English, English as a Second Language,
Reading, and Assessment areas determined that this requirement would
help to create a sequence of composition courses that would appeal to
the students from English 70 and English 85. Students wishing to enroll in
English 87 had to complete either English 70 or English 85 beforehand.
The goal was, with the limited number of sections, to take care of those
students who had already completed course work at Delta College.
Students from other directions, such as through an assessment score or
3 through a previous enrollment in English 79, had to find alternative means
to refresh their skills. Suggestions were made that these students could
enroll directly in English 73.
At the present time, English 87 functions in an unusual way in that it is
considered a component of a sequence of composition courses (English
70/85, English 87, English 79, and English 1A), but it does not
correspond directly to one of the levels of composition at Delta College.
English 70 and English 85 are the traditional Level I composition courses,
English 79 is Level II, and English 1A is Level III. Since English 87, a Level I
composition course, does not by itself represent a level of composition, it
can only be offered as a recommendation to students and not as a
requirement. Based on a portfolio evaluation, students who successfully
complete English 70 and English 85 receive a recommendation from their
instructor to enroll in either English 87 or English 79. However, since this
is only a recommendation, students can opt to skip English 87 and enroll
directly in English 79. Students who have chosen to bypass English 87
have stated one of the causes to be the limited number of sections of
English 87 offered. In the fall of 2007, the evaluators of the English 70
Portfolios recommended 200 students to take English 87, but the
following semester three English 87 sections, serving only ninety
students, were offered. For a number of international students, one more
reason to skip English 87 has been the high cost of another composition
course. Currently, there is discussion to change the English Department
curriculum from three levels of composition to four levels, thereby making
English 87 a required course for those students completing English 70
and English 85.
4 An Interview with the English 70 Coordinator,
Dr. June Gillam
Q: When students complete English 70, they are recommended to go to
English 87 or English 79, depending on their skill level. What are some of
the general differences between these two groups?
A: Students recommended to English 87 would probably not write as
much on their assignments in their portfolios as students recommended
to English 79. Students heading to 87 do not have enough detail, lack
development, and have significantly more sentence problems, such as
noun forms and verb forms. Students skip the “s” on plurals and drop
helping verbs. Also, students drop the “s” on present tense verb forms.
English 79 students have better development, have a firm grasp as
readers, and have a stronger writer’s voice, which makes a claim, even in
simple writing like a reader response. English 79 students get to the point
quicker than 87 students who wander around more with their writing.
Students who have a strong voice and have more authority in their voice
go to English 79. When 70 portfolio readers have to struggle more to
make meaning of the writing, then the students need English 87. These
students could use a combination of more skill, practice, and confidence.
Q: What are the types of writing areas that students who enter English 87
need to concentrate on?
A: In English 70, students need conversation, thinking, and writing
activities. Students in 87 could use more work on five-paragraph
argumentative and four paragraph narrative essays. English 87 instructors
could also weave in some kind of vocational focus
Q: Do you have suggestions on how to address these particular writing
A: Instructors could, for example, give the students a choice in reading
selections. Instructors should give the students a choice to read about
vocational areas. I am now working with Mary Jo Zimmerman, an electrical
technology instructor. In this certificate program, there is a high level of
technical reading. English 87 instructors could offer students options in
reading and writing. Have students argue options about their occupational
choices. Let trade students fit in.
Q: Aside from the need for improved writing skills, what other areas could
students spend more time on?
5 A: Reading. Try to get students to work on addressing a piece of reading
directly in their response. Interestingly enough, students in English 70
mostly did this in their summaries anyway, but more work could help.
Q: Do you have suggestions about teaching to these areas?
A: Work on using transitional devices from the summary to the personal
response. Some students refer to the original writer. Some do so in a
subtle manner. A sustained response with repeated references to the
reading could be effective. In 87, instructors could build on this skill more.
The English 70 Personal Response directions require the students to
summarize the author’s thoughts, transition to a personal response, and
give one main idea, which should have both general points and specific
examples. This direction helps students move to connecting with authors.
Instructors could also use school catalogs as readers. Students could read
up on certification programs and vocational programs. Try this in 87.
Explore the school catalog more for its content.
For reading activities, students in English 70 have kept reading logs while
reading books on Pamela Pan’s Multi-cultural Reading List. After reading
some of these books, the students in my class write letters to the
authors of these books. I want the students to think of the authors as
regular people, who want to hear from their readers and want to hear
what they got from the book. The students connect to the writers in this
Q: What types of individual learning differences have you identified with
students in developmental writing courses?
A: Lots of students have a range of differences. Some are slow to catch
on to auditory directions and some even with written directions. Some
students are easily confused. It is not easy for them to focus on
directions and to focus on a task. I have used DVDs on vocational
programs. The Delta College DVD on Delta careers works well. Ask the
students questions. “Which career would be interesting?” The students
remember specific information presented on the DVDs.
Q: Do you take into consideration these individual learning differences in
your teaching? And how?
A: Yes. I have students do kinesthetic sentence building. The activity
helps some students, but it is complicated. Some students need a small
group exchange to get it. Some students work best in social situations.
They help each other. They ask questions in small groups, which are less
Another activity is the round robin paragraphs. Social group work is
helpful. In groups, students catch on to the task faster. Every group gets
the same topic sentence. Then, each student gets to add a sentence. Try
this activity at different times during the semester. This activity works
well because it is not individually graded. But I’m not sure how well this
exercise transfers over into individual work. For a round robin activity, we
would start with the same topic sentence, such as the following: “College
students are worried about many things.” Then, each student in the
group has to add on a sentence. Students writing sentences need to read
what others have written before and try to apply transitional words. They
also have to identify when examples are needed.
Q: What types of textbooks have you found to be successful? What are
some reading activities that work with developmental writers?
A: I use Final Draft in English 70. Instructors in English 87 could use Delta
Winds. I have not found any textbooks to stick with. “Writers World” can
be split up into four parts, so I use the skinny, green one for 70 students
and the writing process, blue one for 79. I use My Writing Lab for the
grammar part of the class.
Another resource is “Silly Sentences: A Grammar Skills Practice Game”
with packages of nouns and verbs, which are linked together to create
sentences. Students create their own package of word forms, for example
I also use a dictionary in class. Students have to create ten cards out of
words found in the dictionary. Students have to find words they haven’t
used before. Then, they have to build sentences from these words. First,
the students build two word sentences. Then, they build compound
sentences. Then, they use subordination and more complex sentences.
Early on, we learn about prepositional phrases in simple sentences to
show how to add and delete prepositional phrases to find the basic
noun/verb clause. We do this in teams, two or three times in 45 minutes.
I also give them a sentence pattern to match. The students have to
create a sentence that copies the particular pattern. The sentence has to
make sense, though. For the final exam, students have to create a 100-
word sentence. If they do, they can win a prize. Two students did this.
They enjoyed the challenge and worked hard. Students in the class enjoy
the activity. They puzzle over it. They become active over it. But you
need considerable space in a classroom for the activity. Students write
funny things too. Almost all of the students seem to feel enthusiasm for
building these sentences. They do catch on to creating a sentence that is
7 meaningful and that fits the pattern. Paragraph building, which is used in
79, is similar to this activity.
Q: How do you teach grammar? Is this a need for students in English 87?
How would you recommend teaching grammar?
A: Grammar should be taught and not taken for granted. Even in English
1D, Critical Thinking, I have students work on grammar by choosing their
own personal gremlins to work on over the semester. Sometimes I help
them to identify particular grammatical areas.
In English 70, I teach grammar through sentence building cards and
sentence composing. A good book for this is English Sentence Structures
and Their Rhetoric by Nona Anderson at Sacramento City College, but it’s
difficult to find since it was self-published. I also use self-paced grammar
texts that focus on sentence composing for the different levels of school.
Students have to unscramble sentences and put them back together.
Another activity would be to have students copy a writing sample and
make a change to only one grammatical point, such as change all of the
verbs to past tense. The students have to practice exact copying, which
makes them focus on accuracy. This activity may be valuable in English
English 87 Portfolio Requirements
Responsibility: It is the responsibility of the student to organize and maintain
assignments in the portfolio.
Portfolio Contents: The portfolio should include one piece of writing from each
of the four writing projects listed below:
1. Summary of assigned essay—written in class in 80 minutes. Instructors will be
provided with two essays for students to choose from for their summary. All
students in 87 should summarize one of these two essays. The work should be a
first draft of an objective summary. The work should demonstrate reading
2. Response to assigned essay—written in class in 80 minutes. Instructors will be
provided with two essays for students to choose from for their response. All
students in 87 should respond to one of these two essays. The work should be a
first draft of a subjective response. The work should demonstrate an ability to
respond appropriately to reading material and to a writing prompt.
3. Narrative essay—written in and out of class. Instructors will be provided with two
topics for students to choose from for their narrative essay. All students in 87
should write on one of these two topics. The work should be about three
paragraphs in length and should be in multiple drafts. The essay should reflect the
use of narration as a method of development. The work should demonstrate an
application of the writing process. Revisions should indicate an understanding of
written suggestions from the instructors.
4. Argumentative essay—written in and out of class. Instructors will be provided
with two topics for students to choose from for their argumentative essay. All
students in 87 should write on one of these two topics. The work should be about
five paragraphs in length and should be in multiple drafts. The essay should
reflect the use of argumentation as a method of development. The work should
demonstrate the use of general and supporting sentences to develop multiple
points. The essay should demonstrate an application of the writing process with
concern for organization, development, transitions, and focus. Revisions should
indicate an understanding of written suggestions from the instructors.
Due Dates: Students must complete portfolios by date announced during the
semester. Instructors should bring Portfolios to the Portfolio Reading.
Portfolio Reading: All English 87 instructors are expected to participate in the
Portfolio Reading. Instructors may cancel their classes on that day. Adjunct faculty will
be compensated for their time.
9 Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: I realize that many students in English 87 are coming from
English 85 (ESL) so does this mean that they do not take English 70 but
go from 85 to 87?
Yes. Almost all of the ESL students in English 87 come from English 85,
which is the equivalent of English 70. In fact, in the English 70 reading,
the instructors are reading portfolios from students in 70 AND 85.
Question: My class this semester is comprised almost entirely of second
language learners with the exception of maybe three students, and I am
finding their writing ability to be much lower than that of the English 70
students I taught last semester. I somehow expected that the English 87
students would be more advanced writers than English 70. Is this a fair
That would be a reasonable expectation. Your English 70 class might have
just been more advanced than the average 70. Other instructors of 87
are also surprised with the writing level of the students. In some ways,
some instructors probably view 87 as an extension of 70.
Question: In English 70, the portfolio is calibrated at the end of the year
and given a pass or no pass grade. Does this same method apply to
Yes, in 87 we have the same pass or no pass grade for each student
portfolio. However, in English 87 the pass or no pass grade applies only to
the material in the portfolio.
Sequence of Composition Courses
Question: My understanding was that students scoring a Level I on the
Assessment/Placement test were placed in English 70 and then either
progressed to English 87 or to English 79.
Based on the evaluation of the English 70 portfolio and the
recommendation of the instructor, the students who pass English 70 go
to 87 or 79. However, some students who pass English 70 do not choose
to enroll in English 87. For some students, this decision is based on the
time and money involved in enrolling in another semester of composition.
Students can skip English 87 since, at this time, it is not a required
10 course, only recommended.
Question: Those not passing English 70 are either recommended to
repeat English 70 or take English 87. Is this correct?
No. That is not correct. If students do not pass 70, they are
recommended to take 70 again or try some supplementary courses like
Reading 98 and English 73. Students who do not pass English 70 are not
allowed to enroll in English 87.
Question: What about the students who do not pass English 87? Do they
retake the class?
Students who do not pass 87 could retake the class. Or they could be
advised to take the lab courses in the Reading/Writing Learning Center,
such as Reading 98 and English 73. These are more individualized and are
Question: I guess I am trying to wrap my brain around the progression of
English classes at Delta so that I am aware of what I need to be offering
the students in terms of curriculum. Every semester I am handed a
different class, which is nice because I get to see the full range of student
ability, but I need to be more aware of what to expect from each class.
Students in English 87 should be able to meet the exiting guidelines as
stated in the English 70 curriculum. To review material up to this point,
English 87 courses frequently emphasize basic sentence level skills, such
as verb tenses, coordination, and subordination. From the sentence level
area, students are also expected to work towards an understanding of the
structure of a multiple paragraph piece of writing. The portfolio for
English 87 requires two multiple paragraph writing samples, which can be
from three to five paragraphs. These short essays should show
competence in the narrative and argumentative methods of development.
Students who pass English 87 should be prepared for the demands of an
English 79 course, which focuses on the five-paragraph essay.
Question: A student handed me a Petition for Declaration of Course
Prerequisite Equivalent form. The form states that the student wishes to
receive permission from the instructor to enroll in the course. What
should I do?
According to the current curriculum, students must pass either English 85
or English 70 before enrolling in English 87. But on a rare occasion, a new
student to the College can ask to enroll in English 87 based on the
student’s evaluation through the assessment process. A new ESL student
11 to the school is assessed through the ESL placement by an ESL faculty
member. If the student places at Level II reading and the ESL instructor
recommends the student be enrolled in English 87, the student may be
given the choice between English 85 or English 87. However, since the
student has not satisfied the stated prerequisite, the student can only be
allowed in the English 87 course if the instructor of the course allows the
student to enroll in the course. If you wish to add the student to your
course, you can do so by signing the form. The choice is yours.
Question: How many assignments should I require in the portfolio?
Four separate assignments are required for the portfolio: a summary, a
response, a narrative essay, and an argumentative essay.
Question: Does the department provide writing prompts like they do for
the English 70 writing assignments?
Yes. You will be provided with prompts for the portfolio assignments. The
response, the narrative essay, and the argumentative essay all have
specific topics. The summary assignment has no specific prompt or
Question: Where do I obtain the specific assignments for the portfolio?
The topics will be provided to you before or during the course of the
Portfolio Assignments: Summary and Response
Question: How long do the summary and the response have to be?
The summary and response can be one paragraph, although some
students end up writing more than one paragraph. If you do have the
students write one paragraph, aim for more than just a few sentences in
the paragraph. Some instructors ask that the summary and response be
one and a half handwritten pages.
Question: I have been going over the portfolio assignments and have
noticed that there are two assignments for the response; however, there
is no summary assignment.
There aren't any specific assignments for the summaries. Just ask the
12 students to summarize the designated Delta Winds essays. The two
response assignments are for the two Delta Winds essays that were
selected for the responses for this semester. The response assignments
ask the students to respond in a particular manner.
Question: There are four Delta Winds essays in the material I received for
this semester. According to the writing prompts for the Summary and the
Personal Response, only two of the essays correspond to the prompts.
So, do I have my students read all four? Do I have them read the two that
they are supposed to write on only?
You have four Delta Winds essays since there are four assignments—two
summaries and two responses. The student will get two chances to write
a good summary on a Delta Winds essay, and the student will get two
chances to write a good response on a Delta Winds essay. You do not
receive specific topics for the summary assignments. Just ask the
students to summarize the essays. The two writing prompts you have in
your material correspond to the two responses the students are
supposed to write.
Question: Regarding the summary and the personal response, do I have
the students FIRST read the Delta Winds essay, give them time to think
about it, discuss it, go over it, etc. and THEN give them the writing (say
on a different day) OR do I give them the essay AND the prompt on the
Have the students first read and discuss the Delta Winds essay. Give
them some time to read the essay on their own if they wish to. In your
next class, you could have the students write on the essay. Do not give
the students the prompt until the day of the in-class writing. The
students can read the essays beforehand, but the prompt for the
response should be read only just before the response assignment begins.
You can answer questions on the prompt to make sure the students
understand the topic.
Question: I have a student who did not do well on the main two
summaries, but the student did okay on the practice summaries. Can the
student do one more summary? It appears the student has test anxiety.
The student should not be given another chance at writing the summary
for the portfolio since that would not be fair to other students who have
only one chance to write the summary. Allowing the student another
chance to write the summary would set a precedent that would then
cause problems in the future. The good thing about the 87 portfolio is
that there are multiple writing samples involved. So the evaluation of the
13 student's work won't be based solely on the summary. It sounds as
though you believe the student can do better work. You could include in
the portfolio one of the practice summaries that the student has taken.
The portfolio has to have the four assignments in there, but
supplementary work could be provided. In the curriculum, there is no
information that states that more student writing cannot be included.
Portfolio Assignments: Narrative Essay and Argumentative
Question: After the summary and the response assignment, what else
goes into the portfolio?
The other two assignments for the portfolio are the narrative essay and
the argumentative essay. Those assignments are also in the material
provided to you. The essays are supposed to be in draft form—the first
draft in class and the remaining draft or drafts out of class.
Question: Are the narrative essay and the argumentative essay written in
The summary and the response should be done in class in one setting. But
the short essay assignments (the narrative and the argumentative essay)
should show work done in class and out of class. The essays should also
show that the students can improve their work through multiple drafts
and through revision and editing based on the instructor’s comments.
Question: How long should these assignments be?
Try for around three paragraphs for the narrative essay and for five
paragraphs for the argumentative essay.
Scheduling of Portfolio Assignments
Question: Is there a specific day to give the summary or the response
assignment? In the past, it was at the instructor's discretion. Is it still
Choosing the dates for any of the assignments is up to the instructor. It
is essential, however, to have all of the portfolio assignments completed
before the portfolio reading.
14 Question: How long should I give them to write the summary assignment
and the response assignment?
You can allow the students 80 minutes to write the summaries and the
responses in class.
Question: I know the summary assignment and the response assignment
are supposed to be in class. Do they get to take them home? Or are they
solely in class?
The summary and the response assignments are to be done solely in
Question: When do you have your students write the portfolio summaries
and personal responses? Should I wait and do them towards the end of
If you wish to have the students do the portfolio summaries and
responses near the end of the semester, you can. That is up to you.
Evaluation of the Student
Question: What does a student need to do in order to pass this course?
If the student's portfolio passes, then the first hurdle is completed. But
the next hurdle is to get the required number of points in the course to
earn a letter grade of C or better.
Question: It seems that there are two ways to pass English 87—either by
the portfolio (the committee signs off on it stating the student is now
allowed access to English 79) OR by passing the class with a grade of “C”
or better regardless of what the portfolio says. Is this true? Can a student
pass the class by simply doing assignments but receiving a No Pass on
The answer is no. The student must pass the portfolio in order to pass
the course. The student must also have enough points in the course itself
to pass the course. So there really are two things going on—the portfolio
and the course assignments.
Question: How do the results of the portfolio affect the grading of the
students in the course?
As for grading, the portfolio process is a tool to determine if the
15 student's work is considered passing or not. The work is evaluated by at
least two English 87 instructors. How an instructor uses the portfolio in
grading for the class is up to the instructor, but the portfolio is not meant
to affect the specific grade for the student. The portfolio is given a Pass
or a No Pass evaluation. While a student could have a passing portfolio,
the student may still fail the course. In the past, students have passed
the portfolio but have failed the course since they did not have the
adequate number of points to earn a passing grade in the course.
Question: How are the students graded for the course?
This is NOT a Credit/No credit course. This is a letter grade only course.
Question: I am confused about the assessment for English 87. I don’t
know why, but I was under the impression that English 87 functioned
primarily the same way English 70 does and that is that there is no grade
received for the class but rather a Pass/No pass and this is all dependent
on the portfolio. Basically, if one doesn’t pass the portfolio, one fails and
receives a No pass or Incomplete and must then retake the class.
There are similarities in the ways that English 70 and English 87 function.
Both courses use a portfolio process. A major difference is that English
70 is a Credit/No Credit course, and English 87 is letter grade only
course. Another difference concerns how students can pass the course.
Just because a student in English 87 passes the portfolio does not
guarantee that the student will pass the course. The student must still
meet the requirements of that particular course to earn a passing letter
grade. This distinction should be made clear in the syllabus of each
Question: Where do I get the portfolio folders?
As you prepare for the reading, you could pick up empty portfolio folders
for your students in one of the file cabinets in Holt 201. Before the
reading, be sure to fill out the information requested on the front of each
folder. Do not fill out the Pass/No Pass part. We will determine that at the
Question: While writing the summary assignment and the response
assignment, can the students use a dictionary and/or a thesaurus?
Question: While writing the summary assignment and the response
assignment, can the students use a copy of the Delta Winds essay?
Question: While writing the summary assignment and the response
assignment, can the students use an outline?
No, but they can have notes on the copy of the essay that they are
Question: I am NOT planning on telling the students about the summary
because I think they might cheat and write one at home. Do you let your
students know ahead of time or not?
It is not only customary but also recommended to let the students read
and discuss the essay beforehand. For many students, the vocabulary and
content of the essays can be challenging. Just as in English 79, by
reading and discussing the essay beforehand, students can dedicate their
allotted class time to writing. If you are concerned about your students
writing a summary ahead of time, you could bring in your own lined paper
and have them put away all of their notes. Then, have them write on the
paper you have provided. You could even use lined paper of a different
color if you'd like to make sure the students are composing on that one
Question: I was just checking my calendar and noticed that our reading
portfolio date is coming up. I am a little concerned because I may not be
done with all the writing assignments. I have very low students and I have
spent a considerable amount of time prepping them. Do you have any
suggestions? I still have two assignments to go.
Do whatever you can to get the portfolio assignments completed so that
the group of instructors can read the portfolios on the scheduled date. If
students do not have all of the assignments in the portfolio, they cannot
get a passing score on the reading of the portfolio. Just let the students
know the urgency, and they will most likely meet your demands. Make
sure that you have at least one summary done and one response done,
and then concentrate on the narrative essay and the argumentative
essay. At the least, you should have two drafts of each of these essay
assignments. The students can be doing the drafts as homework; the
drafts do not have to be written in class.
17 Question: One of my students asked me if, on the day of the portfolio
"put-together," I could help her choose which summary and personal
response to put in her portfolio. Am I allowed to help her or is it her
decision? I would think that she should be the one to decide.
Go ahead and help your student decide. In general, instructors choose
which works to include in the portfolio. As long as all four writing
assignments are in the portfolio, the student should be in fine shape. It
goes without saying to choose examples that best reflect the student's
level of writing.
Question: How long does a portfolio reading take?
In the past, we have been able to finish reading the portfolios in three or
Question: Will I be paid for participating in the portfolio reading?
Since the portfolio reading for English 87 was initiated, the adjunct
instructors have been paid for their time reading the portfolios. Make sure
to fill out an hourly time form at the Division office.
Question: Is there a norming packet for these portfolios?
No. The English 87 instructors go through a quick review at the beginning
of the portfolio reading to establish some common ground and to ask
questions. When we are all agreement about the procedure, we begin
reading the portfolios.
Question: I have a problem. I am the only English 87 class this summer.
What should I do about readers for the portfolios?
Make arrangements to schedule a portfolio reading date with an instructor
who has taught English 87 in the past. You will need at the very least two
instructors to conduct the reading.
Question: What needs to be inside the portfolio on the day of the
Be sure that you have all four of the assignments in the folder. The
portfolio folder should contain one summary, one response, one multiple
draft narrative essay, and one multiple draft argumentative essay. These
18 assignments should be clearly labeled. Your grades for the individual
assignments should not be on the front pages. This measure is taken so
the other readers will not be influenced by your grading. So if you haven't
marked the assignments, please hold off on the grades on the actual
pages in the portfolio. Of course, with the multiple draft essay
assignments, you will be providing feedback to the students so the drafts
are expected to have comments and marks, as you would do so normally.
Question: When you include assignments in the 87 portfolio, do they
usually have instructor comments? I am thinking about the summaries and
responses done in one draft for the 87 portfolio.
The summaries and responses in the portfolio do not have to have
Question: I need to know if we are supposed to assess (grade) the
portfolios BEFORE the reading date? If so, how do I assess the portfolios?
We have tried excluding the original instructor as an evaluator of the
portfolio, but lately we have been including the original instructor as a
reader. The latter method seems to make the portfolio reading more
efficient. Also, most instructors want to have a say in whether or not
their students should pass the portfolio or not. So, please DO read the
portfolios before the reading date and mark the back of the portfolio
folder with your score of the portfolio material—either pass or no pass.
Question: How are the portfolios evaluated?
We have at least two readers for each portfolio. The first reader is the
original instructor; the second reader is another English 87 instructor. If
the two evaluations are NOT in agreement, then a third reader is called in
to cast the deciding vote. We do not have a scoring rubric at this time,
but with an understanding of the different skill levels involved we have
followed the general distinctions made in the English 79 rubric to
determine if a portfolio is at a passing level or not.
Question: How are the results collected onto a spreadsheet?
Copy and paste into an email to the person coordinating the portfolio
reading your Drop Roster for your section. The Drop Rosters can then be
collected into a spreadsheet with the names of all students in English 87
for that semester.
After the Portfolio Reading
Question: What should I do after the portfolio reading?
Please leave the response assignment inside the portfolio and return the
portfolios to the Reading/Writing Learning Center (Holt 201) for storage
in a file cabinet. The response assignment will serve as a proof of the
student's writing. You can return the other portfolio assignments to the
Question: What should I tell the students after the portfolio reading?
As you know, if a student does not pass the portfolio, the student must
receive a D or an F for the course grade. In general, you might consider
advising students who passed but had a split reading on their portfolios
and students who have a C for the course grade to enroll next semester
in English 73 (2 units) and/or Reading 98 (1 unit) in the Reading/Writing
Learning Center. These support courses can be taken before or while
taking English 79.