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Literacy Narrative

Page history last edited by sandra jamieson 15 years, 7 months ago

 ENGLISH 1A – Jamieson – Fall 2008


Project #1: Literacy and Education

 Draft due in class on Friday, Sept. 6, 2008

Revised draft due in class on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008





The assignment

I’d like you to write a literacy narrative. This is a short formal paper in which you introduce yourself to me as a writer. I’d like to know how you came to be the writer you are today, who helped, who didn’t help, and how you feel about all that. Below are some questions to get you started. You don’t need to answer all of them, but think about them and answer the ones that help you come up with ideas for the paper. There is no set length for this. Just write as much as you have to say!


Getting started

Think about your history as a writer, reader, and thinker:  when did you learn to write?  who taught you? what language did you learn to write in first?  when did you learn to read?  who taught you?  what language did you learn to read first? how did you feel about reading and writing when you were young?  How do you feel now? If this changed, when did it change and why? how much do you remember family members reading and writing as you were growing up?  how much do you remember them encouraging (or discouraging) your reading and writing?  what role did school play in your developing literacy? teachers? friends? members of your community, church, extended family, etc.? what setbacks did you encounter? what encouragements? who or what has been the single most important influence on your literacy so far? what is your favorite book? why? who is your favorite book character? why? what advice about writing and reading would you give to a young writer? a writing teacher? the parent of a young child?


Organizing your ideas and drafting your paper

Write out answers to these questions in note form, and then look over your answers and look for patterns and connections.  Use these to help you organize your ideas into paragraphs.  You may structure your paper thematically, focusing on specific topics (such as good reading experiences, influential people, bad experiences, etc.), or you may write your narrative chronologically, describing your evolving literacy over your lifetime.  Use whichever structure most makes sense to you (but you need to answer the questions in order to decide this).  And, yes, you can use "I" and "me" to write about yourself!

This is due in class on Friday 6th September



Revising your literacy narrative

Now it is time to revise your literacy narrative into an academic, thesis-driven essay.  To do this, read over your narrative and think about what you are saying in it. Although you did not intend to do so, you are making an argument, or at least you have provided information that could be used to support an argument.To revise this paper spend some time thinking about what you wrote--and what you didn't write. What argument could your essay be used to support? How?



Write out that argument (for example, One good teacher can totally change the way a child writes, or One bad teacher can totally destroy a child's sense of confidence as a writer, or If a child does not learn the basics of English first, grammar and punctuation will never make sense, or Learning disabilities do not have to stop anyone from attending college, or Exposure to reading at a young age can give children the skills they need to become strong writers, etc). That is the thesis that your paper supports. Your own literacy narrative will therefore become a case study in support of this larger argument.



The role of your new introduction will be to help readers make the connection between your claim (your thesis) and your case study (your literacy narrative). In whatever order makes the most sense to you, the introduction should state your thesis and explain how your literacy narrative supports it. Introduce us to your topic and to the things you will say about it (imagine yourself a lawyer telling the jury how you will defend your client--i.e.: support a claim that she is innocent).


The Literacy Narrative

Look over the draft you wrote for Friday and edit it as necessary. You do not need to totally rewrite it to fit the introduction; rather, the introduction should fit the paper. You may need to do a little work reorganizing the first draft or removing repetition or irrelevant information, but most of the work should be the thinking and the introduction and conclusion. (You'll have one more shot at revising this essay for the mid-term portfolio if you want to do so.)



Here is where you ensure that we have made the connections you want us to make between your thesis and the case study. Don't just restate the introduction. Instead, remember that you are speaking to people who have already read your paper. The conclusion reminds us of what you have said and reviews connections (this time, imagine yourself a lawyer making the closing argument to the jury by bringing all the evidence together and reviewing ket details that you want them to consider as they make their decision). 


Due in class Wednesday, September 10.



Writing Skills developed in this assignment

Like the first essay, this one asks you to first gather information (about yourself in assignment #1 and about Drew in assignment #2), then to reflect on that information in a larger context (literacy in assignment #1, and the role of education in #2).   We will practice the following skills:

  • narrative writing 
  • explanation 
  • seeing things in context
  • thesis development
  • introduction and conclusions


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