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INSTRUCTIONS THAT WAS FOR ESSAY:
Self-Assessment Project (first version due Friday, Dec. 4; final version due Thursday, Dec. 11) This essay will be shared with other members of the Kingsborough English Department who are in a portfolio group with me. Together we will decide whether this project is strong enough to pass. You must pass the Self-Assessment Project in order to pass the course. Here are some general guidelines. I will also be giving you more specific instructions. • Help the readers get to know you. Write autobiographically—that is, about yourself—in the first section. Include stories from your life since the pandemic began. Talk about this semester in depth, how some things outside this class—for instance, your other courses, or challenges that you have at home, or at your job if you have one—have affected your work in ENG 12. • Make explicit and detailed reference to particular pieces of writing and places within those pieces that provide evidence demonstrating your accomplishments and/or your struggles in a particular area. Indeed, I will ask you to paste into your project examples from earlier essay drafts, plus examples from your Informal Writing. You will also provide a link to the final version of your major essay. • Make explicit and detailed reference to your reading as well, as you discuss what you found challenging and noteworthy. • Be honest and straightforward in its description of your progress and your accomplishments. • Highlight progress and change through the semester. Make it easy for your reader to see how your essay writing has developed over the course of English 12. No one expects you to be a “perfect” essay writer by the end of the course; instead, we value evidence of your growth as a writer. • Be an essay—meaning that it should be a focused, cohesive piece of writing, with a beginning, middle, and end (and a title) in which you argue for your own accomplishments as a writer in English 12. The Self-Assessment Project should avoid: • Flattery of yourself and of your instructor. • Unsupported and exaggerated claims of growth and change as writers and learners. Any claim you make regarding your growth as a writer must be explicitly supported by evidence drawn from the documents you have chosen to include in the portfolio.
My Experience during the COVID-19 Pandemic
I am a 20-year-old male residing in New York. I study at Kingsborough Community College, and I specialize in English and Literature. I chose English and Literature as my majors because of my profound love for language and narratives, both oral and written. Growing up, I preferred reading to watching television and playing computer games. I was different from other kids, and my parents always reprimanded me for that to the point that I started thinking that something was wrong with me. With time, I realized that I was perfectly okay having different preferences from other children. I would mostly be found at the library, either reading, borrowing, or returning a book. With age, my love for reading only deepened, and I always felt my best when reading a book. Sometimes I would write poems and short stories in the form of blogs and post them on social media for anyone interested in reading.
Unlike most people, my life did not change a lot since the pandemic began. Most people were complaining about their inability to visit clubs, hotels, restaurants, and other social places. More so, people expressed their desires to spend time with others and be part of crowds. Do not get me wrong; I love the company of good people with who I can share a meal with and enjoy a good hearty laugh. However, I equally want my company and a day spent by myself is as good as that paid with friends. Secondly, I am not a fan of alcohol, which makes clubs and night outs the least of my concerns.
Since the pandemic began, I have been watching a lot of movies and series. Apart from the routine reading of exciting novels, I also found some books online that helped me understand certain aspects of life (Altschuler & Wald, 2020). My parents, siblings, and friends would accuse me of not wanting to spend time with them as I would be locked up in my room for the better part of my days. On the few days that I gave in to their urges, I would be the odd one out as I was not good at games such as cards, charades, and truth or dare. Many are the times I would be the first one out, something that made me feel like I was in the wrong group (Culina, 2020). Nonetheless, I took the time to learn the games, and I can now attest that I am somewhere when it comes to cards and charades.
I also used the moment to introduce my friends and family to my book club and had they register. Although some of my friends did it out of coercion, my mother has since become a genuine reader since. I have also had more instances of drinking, mostly due to peer pressure. Consequentially, this has significantly affected my reading habits. For example, there are books that I should have finished reading primarily because of the vast amount of free time on my hands. Similarly, I have not completed the fictional narrative project that I was working on, but this is bound to change.
On the bright side, though, I have been able to improve my social skills significantly through the help of my friends and family. The book “emotional intelligence” has also helped enhance my character and interaction with people (Culina, 2020). Although I have not been able to accomplish and learn new skills during the pandemic, I have learned to appreciate the company of the people that I hold dear. I have also learned how to appreciate the basic things in life, such as health, family, friends, and neighbors. It took me a pandemic to learn that life is short and should be spent with the people you love since God can decide that he needs them any day. References
Altschuler, S., & Wald, P. (2020). COVID-19: Pandemic Reading. American Literature. https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-8780887
Culina, A. (2020). How I managed my work and personal life as a sole parent during the pandemic. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-02329-x
Comments from prof:
ALSO FROM PROFESSOR:
I am glad to hear that you are such a devoted reader! I will look forward to even more details next time (see my comments on the side). But even more importantly, you will need to follow the guidelines that I gave for the assignment. The instruction sheet takes you step by step through each part of the essay; I enclose it again in case you’ve misplaced it.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR FINAL DRAFT:
For this project, you will write autobiographically, first about your life, in
particular your life since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic; then, in very
specific ways, about your work in ENG 12.
It will be read by me, and by other members of the English Department. If you
wish, you can also post it on Blackboard, but that is not required. Write it in such
a way that even those outside our class (those other members of the department)
will understand what you are saying. Don’t assume they already know.
Begin the essay with at least one paragraph introducing yourself to the reader.
Start—either in the very first sentence, or somewhere in the first few
sentences—with your name (something like “My name is ____. I was born in
______”) and go from there. As with any essay, your aim should be to engage the
reader. Pick out details about yourself and your life that you think might be
genuinely compelling to the reader. Give the reader a sense of what your life was
like before 2020.
Continue the essay with a transitional sentence (or several sentences) bringing
the reader into 2020 and to the pandemic. One example: “I began 2020 with
____________ (complete the sentence). By March, however, everything
changed.” Talk about what the early days of the pandemic were like for you.
Then continue with pandemic stories, either some or all of which you already told
us about in your Informal Writing, though you are welcome to include other
stories too. Include lots of sensory details (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell), and
lots of show and not only tell. This section should be at least three or four
As you move between one story and the next, include transitional words or
sentences, for instance: “Something else that happened to me was . . .” or
“Later in the pandemic, after many months, I had a different kind of
experience” or “Another memorable event was when . . .”
Continue the essay by talking about the fall semester at Kingsborough. In this
part of the paper (at least one paragraph) give details about what your classes
have been like—all your classes except ENG 12. Again, as you begin this part of
the essay, make sure there is some kind of transitional sentence or sentences.
These sentences serve as a bridge between one section of the essay and the next.
Just as the Brooklyn Bridge allows cars, bikes, and pedestrians to move from one
borough to the next without anyone drowning, your transitions bring the reader
smoothly and safely from one paragraph to the next—or sometimes even from
one sentence to the next.
From here and in most sections moving forward, I’ll leave you on your own
to come up with a transition that makes sense for your essay, as you move
from one section (your pandemic stories) to the next. Don’t worry, though:
if there’s a problem with any of your transitions, I’ll point it out in my
comments on your draft.
Continue the essay with a transition leading the reader to this particular class,
ENG 12. In at least one paragraph, describe the kind of work everyone was asked
to do for the class.
Continue the essay with a transition leading the reader to your own work in the
class, as you begin a detailed examination of what you personally accomplished in
ENG 12. Then, in numerous paragraphs, discuss some of the following. Notice, I
said some. You will choose which questions to answer; when anything is
required, I will label it as such.
Among the questions to consider (and you can add others you think of on your
What were some of the unique challenges of taking a class like this online?
Are you glad the class was online, or would you have preferred to take it on
campus if there were no pandemic? How do you think this class might have
been different if we had met normally on campus as opposed to online?
What was different about the kind of work you did in this class compared to
some other English classes you took, whether in high school or earlier at
What was it like participating on Zoom? You can talk both about our class
sessions and any individual conferences you had with me.
Was it hard to get used to Blackboard? Describe any challenges you faced
with Blackboard during the semester. What are your thoughts about using
Blackboard now that the semester is nearly over?
Were the videos helpful to you in any way? If so, which ones? What was
helpful about them? If not, what might have made them more helpful than
What was it like searching on Google to find more articles for your essay?
Describe some of the search terms you used, and what you found.
What were some of the challenges you faced in working on certain skills,
such as show and tell, sensory details, quotation style, and the quotation
What strategies did you use to proofread your work?
REQUIRED: What it was like to read articles from The New York Times? Did
you find it especially difficult or challenging in any ways? Which specific
articles did you get the most out of? How so? Were there any articles that
especially annoyed or disturbed you? How so?
REQUIRED: What was it like to do so many Informal Writing assignments?
Which posts did you find most challenging? Most rewarding? Most
intriguing? How so? Talk about specific posts from the semester. Were
the comments I wrote for each post helpful to you in any way? If so, give
examples of a few such comments, and how they helped you. Now that
you have spent many months doing both Informal Writing and formal
essays, how would you describe the difference between the two?
REQUIRED: How did you decide which Informal Writing posts you would
expand into complete essays? After you wrote your two essays, how did
you decide to pick the one that you focused on for multiple revisions?
REQUIRED: What was it like to write a first draft, then revise, then revise
again? What were some specific challenges you faced during each phase of
the project, moving from first version to final version? Make reference to
specific moments in each version.
REQUIRED: What were some of the five comments I wrote on your first
drafts? What are some specific changes you made in your essay to respond
to those comments?
REQUIRED: What were some of the grammar and punctuation corrections I
made on the side in your revisions? What are some examples of similar
errors that I did not mark up, but that you found on your own when you
proofread more carefully?
Continue and complete the essay (at least one paragraph) with a transition such
as “It’s been a _____ semester. Now that it is over, I look forward to the future. . .
.” Discuss your school plans. Do you expect to return to Kingsborough in the
winter or spring? If not, what are your plans? If you are returning, how do you
feel about classes continuing online in the winter and spring? How do you feel
about the likelihood that we will be back in person next fall? Now that President
Trump’s term in office is ending and President-elect Biden’s is beginning, do you
expect to follow the news closely? If so, will you read The New York Times? Or
which other news sources will you rely on? Are there any particular news stories
that you will want to watch very closely? Include a few sentences at the end to
provide closure to the essay. One possibility: to thank your readers for spending
time getting to know you and your work in ENG 12.
In summary, here are the different parts:
Your life before 2020
Your life since the pandemic began, with several pandemic stories
What your fall semester at Kingsborough has been life (not including ENG
What kind of work you were asked to do for ENG 12
Discussion of many aspects of your work in ENG 12
Concluding section with a discussion of some future plans