First Year Composition Students Talk Writing Into ePortfolios

Each semester at St. John’s University in New York, the First Year Composition Program hosts a conference to celebrate the work of the students. In this panel, Prof. Torg introduces his course which includes the creation of writing territories, a hybrid research project called the Scholarly Personal Narrative, a documentary film, and a final ePortfolio completed via Digication software.  The students discuss their work, much of it completed in digital spaces, with professors Roseanne Gatto, David Farley, Amanda Moulder, and Tara Roeder.  The student Daniella focused on speech pathology while Richie focused on the art of songwriting and the promotion of his band.  Topics discussed include public and private writing, ePortfolios, YouTube, Facebook, songwriting, vinyl, and illegal downloading.
Click the play button below to listen or download the podcast from iTunes at the Prof. Torg Read, Write, and Teach Digital Book Club.

College Composition Students on their Writing Center Visit

I recently had my students write an “About Me” essay as it might appear on an Electronic Portfolio, a cover letter for a job, or an application for graduate school.  The assignment comes from a campus initiative toward incorporating ePortfolios and from what I’ve noticed about students’ writing who come to me as they approach graduation and are faced with writing such texts.  The students met with writing center consultants and wrote reflections about their visits.  With the students’ permission, I’m sharing some lines from their reflections.  I also snapped a few pictures of the writing center at St. John’s University where I teach.

Welcome to the Writing Center!

The people at the front desk are cheery and good-natured. I quickly passed this off as a trait of English majors.

–Max Blitzer

My expectations prior to going in [to the writing center] were to meet with a nerdy, potentially socially awkward valedictorian type of student.

–Daniel Herrera

Consultants Not the Grim (or nerdy) Writers Some Students Expect

I realized that I was actually doing most of the talking; she [the consultant] was just a mediator and I answered my own questions.”

–Malgorzata Stapor

Students Often Surprised How Nice It Is In The W.C.


When we were first assigned to go to the writing center to get help on our “About Me” essay, I was honestly confused.  How could someone help me write about myself?…When we sat down I tried to explain to her [the writing consultant] how I did not really understand the purpose for me being there.  Shortly, she explained to me how their job was to bring out ideas that we ourselves might have missed.

–Bibin George

Golden Lines From My Students’ Work

Last week when I was reading student blogs, I started collecting lines that jumped out at me so that I could share them with you.  With permission, here are a few bits of the great stuff I get to read:

The subway poles are a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. Sometimes I think that I would rather fall on my behind than grab on to those filthy things. One time, I saw a man take his hand off the pole, sneeze into it and then resume holding the pole. When I saw that, I felt my stomach drop. He probably wasn’t the first person to do this.

-by Tahyna Hernandez

Is there a child today in any part of the world who has not learned of or heard of the gas chambers in Auschwitz or read the diary of Anne Frank? Indeed. But ask any child in American modern society about what the rape of Nanking was and you will find that 99% of the population would be ignorant of such crimes. 

-by Ada Lee


My parents blamed the black people in my community for the violence and M——‘s parents blamed the Latinos.

by B.A. writing about strain in a cross cultural friendship

As the documentary went on, I was shocked to see that there was discrimination and segregation between black and white deaf people also. I thought to myself, if deaf people were already discriminated against, why would they further the discrimination, especially when both races shared the deaf commonality? 

by Jenyca St. Surin

Titles are like a person’s physical appearance in that they might not reflect how the person really is but they have the power to draw you in.

-also by Tahyna Hernandez

I’ve resisted offering more context at the moment.  If there are comments, I might say a little more about the sorts of texts these lines come from.