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Portfolio Draft

Posted: March 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

To: DU Writing Program Faculty

From: Dan Clark

Date: March 12, 2015

RE: Final Portfolio

Prior to completing Writing 1122, I had considered myself a good writer. Now that I have completed the course, I now understand that I was not actually a good writer, rather just good at five paragraph essays. After coming to this realization, I have looked back and seen that I have progressed exponentially as a writer with much evidence to prove it. Specifically, I have advanced my understanding and utilization of the basic elements of rhetorical analysis, learned to provide evidence and reasoning meant to persuade educated readers, and grasped the importance of using feedback as a way to revise my writing as well as help others revise their own.

In high school, there was very little emphasis placed on logos, ethos, and pathos. The main strategy taught in school was to write a basic five paragraph essay; introduction, three sources of evidence, and a conclusion. Writing 1122 has taught me that structure is important, but not the priority of writing. It is the contents that matters. In my first writing project on youth violence, I utilized all three elements in one paper for the first time in my life. Logos, being the logical evidence that can persuade your audience, relies on facts that cannot be denied. I made sure that sources I used for information were reliable so that I was not falsely swaying my audience with incorrect data. I used mostly raw data and statistics to advance my assertions that neurological problems and media portrayal are to blame for the violence. Ethos, how the audience perceives you, allows the writer to think about how he can present himself as a reliable and credible source of information. Throughout my paper I had reiterated that I had been reading and researching on the topic for weeks prior to writing to ensure the audience knew it was reading information from a well- informed and unbiased author. I cited primary sources I had read as well as credible documentaries to further my credibility. Finally, pathos, the use of emotions as persuasion, can appeal to an audience where credibility and logic cannot. Through the use of pathos, I used my life experiences of growing up on the Southside of Chicago, where I had talked with friends about their family life in the ghetto where it is seen as “cool” or “necessary” to promote violence in school. This draws readers away from abstract ideas and facts to the raw experiences that I have been introduced to.

As for my ability to produce writing that effectively provides evidence and reasoning for assertions, particularly for educated readers, my forums provide sufficient evidence of my success. Forum #3, where I was to apply two professional writings of Garbarino and Staples to the primary source of Eric Harris’ journal, I had to analyze the three readings very deeply. Through this, I was able to develop my own ideas and connections between the ideas of the professional writers and how they applied to the evidence of Harris’ journal. In order to articulate myself, I had to provide evidence of the connections and my reasoning for such ideas, which I had never been able to do in writing. Another forum in which I effectively provided evidence and reasoning was forum #7, where I was to analyze the common ground Martin Luther King Jr. establishes between himself and his audience in the letter from Birmingham Jail. Writing to an educated audience, I was able to describe King’s success through the Rogerian Model of argument, specifically through the common ground he establishes. This allows King to draw connections with his intended audience, which furthers his ethos and argument.

Perhaps my most improved writing achievement is my ability to use feedback to revise my writing as well as help others to revise their own. In high school, I had never had to opportunity to get writing advice from fellow classmates or give writing advice. After being introduced to class discussions, mostly in small groups, I was able to develop the skills of revision. As proof, two out of my three writing projects got an extra point based on my peer revision of fellow classmates that said I gave them the best revision ideas. The fact that before every writing project was turned in we had group revision in class, I was able to use my classmates’ ideas to better my paper. There were often key aspects I had forgotten to include in my paper as well as better alternatives to better my writing that I was able to include in the final paper that I never would have done without the help of others. The feedback of Professor Benz also allowed me to see mistakes I had made in my writing as well as possible alternatives in wording or structure to better my argument that I never would have thought of myself.

The two writing projects I decided to include in my portfolio are #2 and #3. Writing project #2 was intended to utilize the Toulmin style of argument in an op-ed. I chose to write about the police force in the United States and why it is seen as such a menace. Writing project #3 was a memo written with the Rogerian style of argument. I wrote to Rebecca Chopp and discussed the negative tradeoffs of mandating Friday classes to deter binge drinking for the 2015- 2016 school year.

In writing project #2, I decided to revise my links incorporated in the op-ed. One of my links was not consistent with the point I was trying to get across, which diminished my ethos. Also, I added several more links to provide readers with necessary information that would have not been relevant in the op-ed, like the case briefs for the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. Several of my sentences in the op-ed also interfered with the flow of the reading. Because of this, I decided to revise the structure of these sentences by condensing the long sentences and making two or more, as well as substituting certain words. Since it was my first op-ed, I was not completely sure of the tone that should revolve around the op-ed, so I made a few abrasive statements and comments that needed to be deleted as a whole from the writing. In order to further advance my argument of the incredible size of Eric Garner, I included a picture of him.

In the revision of my third writing project, I added a direct quote from the email about the policy change for the next school year as evidence. Also, to provide more evidence, I mentioned the prior policy of DU not having mandatory Friday classes and the success it was able to achieve. Similarly with the second writing project, a few of my sentences went against the flow of the reading, which I revised by condensing one long sentence into two or more. In the memo I failed to recognize the effect this policy change would have on the professors. In order to correct this, I included the negative tradeoffs it would have for the professors, which furthered my argument by further developing the ripple effect.

While it may seem that I have not mastered these goals based on the fact I had not received perfect scores on my writing projects, it is in the understanding of my mistakes that I have shown mastery. I was able to correct these mistakes using the three learning goals to improve my writing drastically. Through the review of my revised works, it will be proven that I have indeed learned the goals I have claimed to have learned.

As of recent, it has become apparent that the police force of the United States is systematically abusing its power (sarcasm of course). But is it really the police that are acting out of line, or is society acting in such a way to require police to resort to much more aggressive means of upholding the law? Definitely the latter. Because of this, the police force is viewed and treated unfairly. Let’s first take a look at the “brutality” of the police department nationwide. In the most recent study, 1.4% of arrests have been reported as having to use excessive force, almost all of which are given media time for weeks. These cases are rarely ever completely explained, lacking the information regarding the aggressive nature of the perpetrators that required the police to use excessive force. But what about the 126 officers that were killed in 2014? A simple mention in the news for a couple seconds is apparently suffice. 2014totalfatalities-web_custom-df784be8fe541622a01105419bc5bfbd56a9e39f-s1600-c85 The public image of the police force is obviously distorted because of people’s reliance on biased media instead of relying on facts. Of course there are anecdotal occurrences of excessive force used by the police, but there is an important word in that sentence: anecdotal. One occurrence is wrongly interpreted as systematic corruption. Why can’t the police force as a whole be trusted because of anecdotal incidences? A doctor guilty of malpractice doesn’t call for hate upon all doctors. Financial corruption and crooked dealing doesn’t keep people from entrusting banks with their money. Going back to reliance on media, people simply take what they hear as the absolute truth, without considering the bias or false information they are being presented. A very recent case, that of Eric Garner in New York City, provides strong evidence to support that most American people rely solely on media. When denying to comply with police orders, Garner was taken down by a supposed headlock (an illegal action) which sadly resulted in his death. First of all, I find it strange that he was able to “clearly” state that he could not breathe whilst undergoing a headlock, which is supposed to completely cut off the flow of air. It could not possibly have been an illegal headlock, then, but rather a legal submission. People immediately labeled this as police brutality, but didn’t look at the facts. Garner was 6 foot 4, 400 pounds. Even if you consider it an illegal headlock, how else would they have been able to detain a monstrous sized man neglecting to comply with their orders?


Garner was also facing many health problems, like asthma and heart- related problems. If breathing was the trouble, a “headlock” was the least aggressive way of detaining him. Mace or even a baton would have exponentially increased his difficulty to breathe. What were the officers to do, wait until Garner decided to comply with their order? No. They needed to do their job and uphold the law. Garner could have avoided dying by doing one simple thing: following the law. The Garner case also brings me to my next point about the bad image that police get. Being that Garner was black and the officer that had got him in the headlock was white, it was deemed racist. Similarly, in the Michael Brown case, because a black man was shot and killed, the action was deemed racist because of the officer being white. People ignorantly shaped their own opinions without the evidence of the case, in which it was discovered that six African American witnesses stated that Brown attacked the officer, which creates reasonable cause for an officer to use any force when his or her life is threatened. This still was not able to convince people to look at the facts. Instead, the “advice” of Rev. Al Sharpton promoting violence towards police officers as a way of creating “peace” was taken as much more logical reason behind shaping public opinion about the police force. The thing is, in 2012, of all the people killed by police, 63% were white, 17% were Hispanic, and 13% were black. Hm… That seems skewed in that one race is killed much more often than the others. But the Ferguson riots targeted against police for the racial killings of blacks, which are actually killed at about half the rate of whites.  hghg Once again, the negative public image of the police can be attributed to biased media coverage as well as a lack of ability for the people of the country to think based on logic and facts. Police officers risk their lives to protect the citizens of the country, but are treated as criminals, which needs to be changed immediately. In the end, the police force of the United States is the true backbone of the country, ensuring that there is order and not anarchy throughout the country. They deserve to be praised, not criticized. I don’t know about you, but personally if I feel threatened, I’m calling the police, not criminals that have to be “brutalized” to be kept from victimizing others.

Six weeks of winter break and one week of spring break; something doesn’t seem right. While some students utilize the lengthy break better than others, many would forgo a week or two in exchange for a longer spring or summer break. Although it is a difficult policy to correct, it should be taken into consideration because what may seem like a blessing to some, is a curse to most others.

After the fourth paragraph: “If DU is so concerned with students getting internships, why let them out so late in summer that it is nearly impossible to find an internship that they are qualified for relative to availability?”

After the seventh paragraph: “It seems a little odd to me that DU, with easily one of the highest tuitions in the U.S., would require the long six week break as a monetary policy.”

Dartmouth’s New College Try

Posted: February 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

-Kairos is used through Marcus’ immediate issuance of the op-ed relative to the new policy.

– Her hook is effective because she starts by saying “Dartmouth is giving college drinking a new try,” which would catch the reader’s attention because it would be taken out of context.

– 1. “(Fraternities, that’s you.)”     2. “pregaming”          3. “pong”

– “For this we’re spending $65,000 a year?”    “Seriously, if these people put as much dedication into schoolwork as they do into obtaining alcohol, they’d all be Rhodes scholars.”

– “Not true.”   “Learning.”

– By the middle of fall term, 35 percent become high-risk drinkers (defined as four or more drinks for women, five or more drinks for men on at least one occasion in the previous two weeks) compared with 26 percent among college students nationwide.

– after “for this we’re spending $65,000 a year?” She argues Dartmouth should take more drastic measures in cracking down on alcohol consumption.

Rose and Op-ed #1

Posted: February 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

As the Denver Post writes to appeal to all people, educated or not, they concentrate on using diction that is much less formal than that of an academic paper. When writing about Obama’s free community college proposal, although it would be nearly impossible to do without including financial jargon like Pell Grants, the author successfully describes what a Pell Grant is for those that have no prior knowledge. Similarly, the explanation of the topic, including potential successes and failures, is done in such a way that the common person can understand easily.

Of the ten paragraphs in the article, only one has more than two sentences, which contains five short, concise sentences. This allows readers to continue to be engaged as well as understand the emphasis being put on specific points that the reader is trying to convey. As already stated, the article contains many short sentences that get right to the point to make the reading much easier as well.

The first statement of the article gives a clear idea of what is to be read in the following paragraphs as well as the obvious implication that it is unbiased, in which the obvious successes and failures will be pointed out. This is backed up by financial statistics as well as analysis of the potential outcomes of these actions.

As stated in the previous paragraph, the hook is given in the first statement, which attracts the reader. The article then summarizes the status quo, and indicates the author’s idea of the importance of Pell Grants.

Arapahoe H.S. Report

Posted: January 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

Comparing the assertions of Steinem and Wise in relation to school violence, Pierson both supports and deviates from their writings. Pierson had indeed attacked a small, quiet community, which had not ever expected such a crime. This statement is proven by a student interview in the Arapahoe H.S. Police Report (11). The writing of Wise puts forth much effort to articulate the lack of realization in quiet, predominantly white neighborhoods, that evil is all around them and can strike at any time. In this case, Karl Pierson was the proof. On the other hand, Pierson  deviates from the claims based on the ideas of Steinem’s “supremacy.” There were no specific people targeted for being minorities. Rather, Pierson simply killed out of hate for the people as a whole.

Pierson and Harris were both full of hate, causing them immense anger at all times. This is an obvious reason for both of them to be prescribed to certain medication in order to try and control these emotions. With the help of failed medication, both Harris and Pierson found enjoyment in planning their shootings of their schools, which is proven through their documented journals. Although Eric Harris claimed to have been bullied and tormented, he had a close- knit set of friends that he was able to interact with out of his own choice and interest. Pierson, according to the Arapahoe Police Report, had no documented friends, which perhaps gave him more of a credible motive as to what he had decided to do at his high school.

Harris Journal Writing Activity

Posted: January 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

“…people say “you shouldn’t be so different” to me, and 1st I say fuck you don’t tell me what I should and shouldn’t be and 2nd mother fuckers different is good, I don’t want to be like you or anyone which is almost impossible this day with all the little shits trying to be “original copycats”, I expect shits like you to criticize anyone who isn’t one your social words, “normal” or “civilized” (Harris 26). This passage from Harris’ journal can perhaps be describing the root of Harris’ evil and violence because of the fact that he states it is impossible to be original. As Staples suggests, boredom will cause youth to seek a distraction, which in Harris’ case is violence, to abate the anger that he suffers from because of the commonality between all people. Through violence, Harris hopes to create an originality within himself in which he can hopefully find satisfaction.

Forum #2

Posted: January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

The first of Garbarino’s issues that I chose is child abuse. Though I have never experienced it personally, it is often shown in movies and books as one of the most life- changing events that can never be resolved. The beginning of one’s life is the time when one’s perception of the world is shaped. If one’s perception is beginning with abuse, happiness is a rarity and sometimes even nonexistent, which can contribute to violent thoughts and emotions that cannot be controlled due to the fact that those were the only experiences in the victims’ lives. The second reason is neurological problems, which is arguably the most difficult to deal with. From birth, some people are born with different brain processes and thoughts on reality that cannot be altered, let alone controlled. Because of this, they do not see their actions of violence as society does, making it seem like the right thing to do. And finally, and in my opinion the most interesting, is the environment in which these youths are brought up in. Being from the South side of Chicago, there are few safe neighborhoods to live in. Luckily, my neighborhood has been free of any serious crime, but my experience with those from high school that grew up  in Englewood, the most dangerous neighborhood in Chicago, is life changing. Having heard stories about classmates’ experiences in this neighborhood has really shown me how different “home” can be just going to a different neighborhood. I have heard stories of their families growing up with little to no money, in which gangs and drugs seemed the only way to get by. Growing up in this type of environment can really change one’s priorities and opinions on how one should act.index