Writing Portfolios

Students submit two writing portfolios during the Writing Seminar, one at the end of each week.  Each portfolio consists of two or three pieces of writing, plus a cover letter.  Students drop these portfolios into their Phase 1 folder on the W: drive.


Portfolio 1 Cover letter – instructions

August 16, 2010

Dear Writer,

For each portfolio, you will provide a cover letter.  This letter allows you to give your reader a context for the selected pieces, a perspective on your sense of their strengths and weaknesses, and some insight into what you are wondering about your writing.  Think of this letter as a conversation with your reader where you are letting your reader know how best to approach and respond to your writing in a way that would be actually useful to you.

To begin with, your reader will want an introduction to your pieces.  Here are some questions that may help with the opening paragraph(s): What specific pieces did you choose and why?  What habit(s) of mind does each piece represent?  Overall, how would you characterize this collection of your work (first thoughts? revised? pieces you put yourself into? familiar styles or new approaches? etc.)?  What is the history of each piece (have you submitted any of these before?  If so, what has changed since the last submission?)?

Your reader will also wonder about how you see these pieces.  So here are some questions that may help you write more reflectively about your pieces: When you look at what you have chosen, how do you feel about these pieces—individually and collectively?  How did these pieces help you learn about yourself as a writer?  Were you surprised by what you wrote?  Are any of these pieces more important to you than others?  What strengths do you see, or what aspects please you?  What aspects concern or bother you? 

Finally your reader will find it much easier to respond if you provide some direction.  Ask questions.  Say what you are wondering.  (You may find the Peter Elbow hand-out “Summary of Ways of Responding” a helpful resource for figuring out what you most want to ask.) 

Don’t forget to shape and polish your letter.  Use this handout as a model for how to format a cover letter.  Give it a date and a salutation (“Dear____”), single-spaced paragraphs, a closing (“Sincerely,”), your name signed and typed.  Double space between the salutation and your first paragraph, between each single-spaced paragraph, and between your last paragraph and your closing.  Leave four spaces between your closing and your typed name.  These four spaces provide room for your signature.  Be sure to edit and proofread your letter as well as the contents of your portfolio.  This is the same format you will need to follow for cover letters when you submit subsequent portfolios to the Writing Center and apply to abroads, internships, and even jobs.

Lastly, it is good practice to acknowledge your reader in closing.  So thank you for taking the time to go over these directions carefully.


Your Reader


Portfolio 2 Cover letter – Instructions

  1. Follow the directions above for the previous cover letter "Portfolio 1 Cover letter – instructions."
  2. In addition, write a paragraph in response to each of the following prompts (minimum of two paragraphs total):
  3. Describe how you have used first-order and second-order thinking skills in writing the texts in this portfolio.
  4. Explain how practicing the different habits of mind has affected your writing/thinking.


What is the W: drive?

The W drive is the Writing Center’s network drive (writprog on ‘Es-filer-01’).  This is where you can find an electronic writing portfolio folder just for you, where you will drop portfolios and writing samples and retrieve your writing evaluations.  This is also where faculty portfolio readers can access and review your portfolio submissions.  You will use this e-portfolio throughout your experience at Principia. 

To access the W: drive:

  1. Click on My Computer, and you will see various drives to access. 
  2. Click on the following drive:  Writprog on ‘Es-filer-01\writcnt’ (W:)
  3. Within this W drive, choose the letter of your surname, and then scroll for your name and double click on your folder.  (If you try this and get an error or “access denied” message, call x5145)
  4. In a second window open the folder where you have stored the documents that you want to drag and drop onto the W drive.
  5. Here you have two options, depending on what you’re trying to do:
  • Access your “Working Space” folder.  Here you can save any of your papers from the Writing Seminar and any other class.  You have both “Read” and “Write” access to this folder, so you can save papers here that are either final or works on progress, edit them, rename files, etc. Note that while you can save writing files here throughout your Principia experience, you cannot save downloads or other personal files to this folder.  Click here to review the “Your Dog Can’t Eat the W: Drive” handout for more information.
  • “Drag and drop” your Writing Seminar Portfolio files into the Phase 1 folder.  (Note that you CANNOT do a “Save As” from an open document into this or any other Phase folder, as these are all DROP-ONLY file folders.) Make sure you retain a copy of each dropped paper in another location, such as your “Working Space” folder.  If you hold the “control” key while dropping a file, it will ensure that a copy stays in the original location.  NOTE: the documents inside the folders for Phases1–6 are “Read-Only” and cannot be changed.  

Faculty members will drop evaluations and other communications for you to view into the Evaluations folder.  This is a “Read-Only” folder.


How to drag and drop  

  1. Click on My Computer.
  2. Open W: Drive (labeled: writprog on ‘Es-filer-01\writcnt’ (W:))
  3. Find file corresponding to first letter of your last name,
  4. Open file labeled Your Name (while you can open the folders labeled Phase 1 – Phase 6 to see what’s in them, the documents in these folders are “Read-Only” and cannot be changed or moved. You can only drag and drop documents into them.).
  5. In another window, open the folder containing the file you wish to drop.
  6. Making sure that both windows are visible on screen at the same time, right click on each document as you drag it over ONTO your Phase 1 folder on the W drive (hold the document on top of the folder so that the folder name is highlighted). When you release the right button, choose “copy here” (don't move the document itself, as you'll want to keep a copy for yourself).


Accessing the network from your personal computer: