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Sample Portfolio Essay #1 My time at Isothermal has greatly affected my life in many ways. Thanks to my time spent at Isothermal, I have decided that upon completion of my education, I hope to be able to work as a Spanish educator at K-12 and college level and as a Spanish-English translator. I have decided on these careers because of my love for the Spanish language and the fact that Spanish educators and translators are in high demand. I also believe that these are career choices with which I will be satisfied even later on in life. I have included a variety of artifacts in order to reflect the fact that my experience at Isothermal has not been focused on just one aspect of learning. The artifacts show my development not only in writing and reading but also in speaking, math, group work, and many other areas. Through my experiences at Isothermal, I have come to discover my strengths and weaknesses. I learn better alone or in extremely calm and quiet places. I am very easily led astray by distractions. It is much easier for me to learn visually than by just listening. I find even the simplest problems difficult if not given a literal example or interpretation (mainly with math problems). Learning through group work is difficult for me. A collection of more than two people serves as more of a distraction than a learning experience for me. In the process of learning to overcome this weakness I have discovered that if I keep myself concentrated by going over the instructions when I feel distracted and by not participating in unrelated conversations I can successfully complete any group assignment with time to spare. While group work is still a challenge for me, I have through my time at Isothermal learned to work my way through it. When I first arrived at Isothermal, my skills in many of the education competencies were lacking. However, over the year and a half that I have been here I feel that I have greatly improved in all aspects of my education. I am now more confident in my skills and abilities than I have ever been in my life. When I first began at Isothermal I believe that my reading and writing skills were about a two. I believe this because I struggled greatly with grammar and spelling, and found long essays a challenge. While at Isothermal I have taken at least six classes that have directly involved this competency (not including classes that involved it indirectly). These classes have not only helped me improve my grammar and spelling but I have also become a much more centered and concentrated writer. I no longer find long essays so challenging. These skills were improved through constant practice and feedback from my instructors. Now that I am nearly done with my degree, I feel that I perform at a level four. I believe this because my artifacts in reading and writing are graded very highly by my instructors. For my reading artifacts, I chose to include a book review of Rites of Spring by Modris Eksteins, an essay on Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and the study guide I completed as I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I chose these because I feel that they are some of the most complicated books I have read. I also included them because I believe they reflect my strength in reading. I received a 95 for the review, a 94 for the essay, and a 100 for the study guide. Before these classes I struggled to understand meanings of books, but now I understand even the most complex of meanings. All of my artifacts in this section reflect the writing competency. I feel that the ones I have chosen really show my improvement in writing as I advanced through my classes. I especially enjoyed my Thomas Hardy essay entitled "Family as a Factor in Failure." I believe it truly exhibits my abilities not only in reading but also in my ability to express my own opinion through writing. I feel that this competency is important to me because, as a teacher, I will need to be able to write properly as well as understand English grammar in order to properly teach Spanish to English-speaking learners. I intend to continue to develop this competency by continuing to write regularly; I am even taking an extra English class just to sharpen my writing skills. When I began at Isothermal I feel that I performed at a level 1 in the speaking and listening competency. I believe this not because of any fault with my listening skills but because of my extremely poor public speaking. I have always been very nervous while speaking in public. This affected all aspects of my public speaking from the planning all the way to the delivery. During my college experience I have taken at least six classes that address this competency. In these classes I developed this competency through spontaneous self introductions and topic discussions, planned presentations, and through rating, listening to, and rating each other's work. Now that I am near the end of my degree I feel that I perform at a level three in this competency. While I mainly receive very good grades on presentations, I still feel like I become very nervous during presentations and public speaking. This is displayed in my Ted Hughes and my Illegal Immigration presentation as both artifacts show that I was marked down for not using eye contact and my voice efficiently. I believe this is because I get so nervous during presenting. However, I do feel I have greatly improved since I began at ICC. I believe this because I now receive much better grades on presentations, and I am no longer as nervous as I used to be. I believe this competency will greatly help me because as a teacher I must be able to speak in front of many people on a daily basis. Listening is also important in order to truly understand and process my students' needs. I plan on continuing my speaking and listening skills by taking periodic public speaking classes and practicing my skills in every class. When I began college I believe I performed at a level two in the problem solving competency. I justify this rating because when I began I had extreme difficulty not only solving the problem but also determining the actual problem that needed to be solved. During my college experience I have taken at least four classes that address this competency. In these classes I worked through real life and theoretical problems. I also worked through these problems through experimentation and through mathematical equations. Now that I am nearly finished with my degree I feel that I perform on a level three. I believe this because though I have improved greatly I still feel that my level of skill in determining the problem still lacks greatly. However, my artifacts do reflect the strength of my problem solving skills especially the claim testing in the last part of my Math 151 final exam since it involves determining and validating claims. The lab report for experiment 31 also illustrates a growing ability to solve problems. This report shows my ability to effectively identify and solve problems experimentally. I feel that this competency is important to me because problem solving is an everyday skill that everyone should be able to do. I hope to continue my growth in this competency by performing regular problem solving activities. When I arrived at Isothermal I believed that I performed at a level one on the interpersonal skills competency. I believe this because as someone who was home-schooled for all but four of my grade school years I am not accustomed to working in groups or depending on other people to complete my work. I felt that group work held me back, and I saw no absolute necessity for it. During my college experience I believe that nearly all of my classes have addressed this competency. In these classes I worked on this competency by not only working in groups in projects but also during in-class competitions and class discussions. Now that I am nearly done with my degree I feel that I perform at a level four in this competency. I believe this because I can now work very harmoniously in a group and feel that it is necessary in learning and in life. All three of my artifacts in this competency reflect my ability to successfully work in a group. In the Ted Hughes presentation I worked with two other team mates and although we had trouble finding outside time to work on the presentation we worked well together to finish the assignment. In the Thomas Jefferson presentation I had some trouble getting my team mates to participate and interact but in the end we interacted well enough to receive a B overall. On all of my chemistry reports (not just the one I used as my artifact) I worked in a group of three to four people. This constant group work over two semesters of chemistry really helped me improved my interpersonal skills as reflected through the great results and grades I received throughout both classes. I feel that this competency is important because as a teacher I will constantly be working with other people, many times people with whom I am not familiar such as students and their family members. I intend to continue work on this competency by continuing my work with people and groups. When I began at Isothermal I believe that I performed at a level one in the quantitative skills competency. I believe this because all of my math skills were extremely weak. I also had problems tying in-class quantitative work to real life applications and uses. During my college experience I have taken at least four classes that develop this competency. In these classes I worked on this competency through learning mathematical equations and rules and using word problems to apply usage to real world problems. Now that I am nearly finished with my degree I feel that I perform at a level four in this competency. I believe this because I excelled in quantitative skills tests. The chemistry test and lab and the math labs that I used as my artifacts really show my improvement. My grades for these artifacts range from 97 to 108. This for me is proof of how far I have come due to the fact that my prior grade would have been a B or a C instead of the A I earned. I feel that this is an important competency for me because as a teacher I will need to use math on a daily basis to calculate grades for my class. I plan to continue to develop this competency by working on my math skills on a daily basis in every day life. When I began my college experience at Isothermal I feel that I performed at a level two in the Computer Skills competency. I believe this because I did have a basic knowledge of computer programs, but I was unable to perform some of the more complex actions. During my college experience I have taken at least eight classes that have addressed this competency in one way or another. In these classes I worked on this competency by completing documents in all the different professional programs such as PowerPoint and Word. I also used my newly learned skills to explore the Internet for sources and facts for different assignments. Now that I am nearly finished with my degree I feel that I perform at a level four for this competency. I believe this because I now have no problem completing computer based assignments whether it be a presentation or a research paper. For my artifacts I chose a PowerPoint, a lab report, and a database. I feel that these three really reflect my learning. The presentation of course reflects PowerPoint and the database, Access. However, the lab report is, I believe, the most significant. It reflects my growth in not only Word skills but also making and inserting graphs and charts while also reflecting formatting skills. I feel that this is an important competency because in today's society computer skills are not only useful but vital for survival. I plan to continue this competency by using my computer skills in everyday situations as well as for work and assignments. When I arrived at Isothermal I believe I performed at a level two in the Global Awareness competency. I believe this because while I was aware of global events but had never done a focus or in- depth study on a particular country. During my college experience I have taken about four classes that address this competency. I have worked on this competency through weekly check-ups on a focus country, studying the history of countries, and writing essays on particular global or country wide problems. Now that I am almost through with my degree program I feel that I perform at a level four on this competency. I believe this because my knowledge of global events past and present is much more extensive than it has ever been. For my artifacts I provided a set of three tests from History 111 and 112, a set of global awareness assignments on Mexico, and an essay written about a little known drug law passed in Mexico. I believe these three artifacts truly reflect the diversity of the assignments that utilized global awareness. I believe I did some of my best work on the history tests. They were a true challenge which my newly found awareness really helped me with. The weekly study of Mexico really brought the country in perspective for me and was actually the starting research for the drug law essay which was extremely interesting because of its controversial content. I feel that this competency is important to me because as a Spanish teacher I must also be aware of the culture and current events of Hispanic countries. I intend to continue this skill by doing continual research and by traveling globally. In conclusion, I plan to use all of these competencies to further my education by transferring after graduation to Appalachian State University. I plan to continue at least until I achieve my teaching licensure and translator certification. However, I do hope to one day be able to achieve my doctorate degree and become a university level Spanish instructor. I hope to be able to increase students' ability to become bilingual. I hope to achieve my bachelor’s degree within the next three years. Of all my skills that I will take away from Isothermal I believe that the writing, speaking, computer skills, and global awareness are most important to me. I expect that all my skills will be useful throughout the rest of my life. This portfolio has really helped me discover the depth of these skills, and it has also made me think of how these skills and even this portfolio will be useful in the future. I believe I have grown immeasurably since arriving here. This portfolio has really helped me understand the extent of this growth and the skills which I have gained.
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