The following is my final project for my advanced English 2 class at STEAM Academy.

Who am I?

My name is Simon Houlihan, I am a freshman here at STEAM Academy, I have 2 dogs and 3 cats and an older brother named Murphy. I have had a lifelong passion for the arts, and have been drawing for as long as I can remember, only recently, through having an internship at Homegrown Press under artist John Lackey, have I considered turning it into a career. I attended Maxwell Spanish immersion Elementary school but my parents decided to take me out of the program when it came time to go to middle school, and it was really hard for me because I didn’t know anybody, but after making new friends, I got over it. Towards the end of the year at Morton my mom told me about STEAM Academy and I was interested and decided it would be better than going to a regular school. It isn’t easy, but STEAM is a unique experience and is bound to look good on a resume.

What is STEAM Academy?

STEAM Academy is a fast paced school for advanced students, the name stands for science, technology, engineering, art, math. It’s like a STEM school with the addition of art. At STEAM, instead of taking a class for the entire year, students move on to the next level in just a semester, however, you have to have an 83% or above to achieve mastery. At STEAM, students are urged to follow six habits that will go with us and help us through life. The habits are altruistic leadership, intentional collaboration, engaged learning, effective communication, and active and responsible decision making.

What is an ePortfolio?

As my final project for Mr. Vaughn’s advanced English 2 class, students have been tasked with writing an ePortfolio. An ePortfolio is an electronic portfolio with a number of uses, like a resume, it highlights your work and achievements, they can be used for job applications, college applications, and school work. This ePortfolio will serve as proof that I am ready to move to English 3 and have mastery of this subject, I will display the work I’ve done in English 2 and how it coincides with the skills displayed in the syllabus.


“Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).” I was able to display this skill in my symbolic short story. After reading an excerpt from Franz Khafka’s “Metamorphosis” we were to use the inspiration we got from what we read to make our own symbolic short stories. You can read it here. “Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.” I had to analyze the point of view of each candidate in the technical writer interview and wrote feedback on this assignment.


“Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.” I had to reinforce and revise my first reflection journal entry to reach the required word count as you can see here.

Argumentative writing is an important part of English. They are used to prove points, convince people of ideas, and persuade. The most important part of this is valid reasoning. It can be used to decide if your are right and are being rational. This whole eportfolio is essentially an argumentative piece.

Click this link to see a time I used this skill. During this assignment I had to look at two poems by Emily Dickinson, “Before I got my eye put out” and “We grow accustomed to the dark”. Next, I discussed the themes. The argumentative piece was when I used valid reasoning and evidence from the text to talk about what I believe the poem was about.


  • ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.4
    Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

Imagine you wrote a scientific essay. You are writing about how in the right conditions certain materials can move faster than the speed of light. The work is groundbreaking, and could allow for human travel to places light years away. You send it to NASA for review, but they never respond. Why? This is because you did not have command of this skill and the people who reviewed it had no idea what was going on. Having proper organizational skills in writing is crucial to success in life.

Click this link for an example of this skill. The assignment was to write a technical writing piece we would then use as a part of our resume in a mock interview. This skill was the most important part of my work as it allowed me to explain how to operate a microscope.


  • ELA-LITERACY.L.9-10.1.B
    Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.

This skill takes adds depth and intrigue from the reader to your writing. Lacking the variation of phrases causes writing to be repetitive and dry. There is a clear line in the quality of work between people who understand this and those who do not.

Click this link for an example of an assignment where I varied my phrases. Here, I reflected on when I exhibited the trait tranquility in my everyday life. I had to vary my phrases when writing it in order to reach a higher level of writing.


  • ELA-LITERACY.L.9-10.1
    Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

This skill is by far the most important. It is also one of the most basic, but also the most necessary. As this skill improves the quality of work also improves.  If you do not have this then you will never be able to succeed in any aspect of life.

Click this link for an assignment where I demonstrated this skill. In the assignment I wrote about Martin Luther King Jr. and his Birmingham jail letter. In order for it to be legible and have even a shred of any quality I had to use this skill.

Concluding Thoughts

Seeing as STEAM Academy is so fast paced and how classes are advanced it is very easy to miss core material. Students often can get behind on their work. Many times they have to provide a defend of learning and show they are ready to move on to the next stage. This eportfolio is my defense of learning for English 2. To finish, I will prove I am prepared to move to English 3 by my use of the skills, my mastery of the content, and my work.

Above you read the evidence section. There, I listed six of the thirteen skills found in our syllabus. I was able to describe and comprehend the skills. Along with this I provided examples of how I was able to use the skill in my work. Upon, reflection of the skills, I believe I am more than prepared for English 3. Not only do I thoroughly understand them, but I can also encorporate them in my work.

At STEAM in order to move on to the next course you must achieve mastery. This is reaching an 83% in class. Here, that what is considered average and proves that you understand the core material. I have surpassed this expectation and have an A in the class. If one does not reach a 83% by the end of the semester they will continue in the class the following semester. It may seem like someone staying in the same class is below average, but this is the same pace as normal public high schools. By my achievement of mastery in both English 1 and 2 I have proven that I am able to advance.

Throughout my work I have demonstrated a strong understanding of the material and expectations. On nearly all my assignments I received a 100%. As seen in the examples I have strong enough writing to advance. Also, as seen in the examples I have been able to incorporate the skills in my work.

Providing a defense of learning is an important part of our curriculum. The advanced classes make it easy to fall behind, or allow you to have a false sense of knowledge. Because of this the classes require check ins to make sure you understand the material. In this eportfolio I have provided evidence as to my knowledge of the skills, my mastery of English 2, and my work. I have proven that I fully comprehend and can put the skills in use. Also I have proven that I am well above mastery, and my work is ready for the English 3 level.