Featured post

Thinking about genre.

Hi everyone!  Just to recap, here is our upcoming schedule:

April 13: 3 pm Zoom call to discuss our current 1121 classes– specifically, tailoring Unit 3 to fit our new teaching situation.

April 20: By this date, please comment on your partner’s 1101 Unit One assignment. Consider the following questions (and anything else that comes to mind!):

  1. Is it clear what the assignment asks students to do?
  2. Are the grading criteria clear?
  3. What learning outcomes does this cover?
  4. Does it begin to teach students about genre? (this isn’t necessary, but may be helpful as you move into units 2 and 3)
  5. Is the assignment engaging– that is, do you think the students will enjoy doing it?

Here are the pairs: Nadine/ Rebekah, Josh/ Alison, Jody/ Patrick, Amity/ Devon, Julia/ Jessica, Kieran/ Ruth, Jim / JACCI

April 23:  3 pm Zoom call. By this date, please review 1101 Units 2 and 3 (below) as well as Kerry Dirk’s “Navigating Genre” ( you may recall we read this one million years ago, in January) and read “Murder, Rhetorically Speaking”. Please write a post (New Post) on Open Lab before our April 23 meeting answering the following question:

What are some strategies or low-stakes assignments you might use to teach your students what genre is, and how and why we move between genres in order to reach our audiences and achieve our desired outcomes? Try to think of strategies that you might be able to use online.

Download (PDF, 4.34MB)


Featured post

Adding Lit Narratives!

Hi everyone!  Sorry it took me so long to post this– I’ve been sidetracked by some life events.

I will be on Zoom (if you have questions or feel like chatting) at 3 pm today– Thursday, April 2.  Totally optional.  The link will be at the bottom of this post!

So, to post your literacy (or education or language) narrative assignments, just go to the dashboard, add “new post” and put your assignment in the body of the post. You will need to add a category.  Choose “1101: Unit One” and click “Publish” and your post.


Featured post

Upcoming Dates

Hey everyone– remember to sign up for this site– invites forthcoming.  You’ll all need to do this so you can post here, which we’ll need to do going forward.  What follows is a list of dates for most of the rest of the semester.  This isn’t detailed, just designed to give you some ideas of what’s to come and when things will be due.

Thursday, March 26, a Zoom meeting with Thursday Group. 3 pm. Details to follow.

After this point, we will all be one group. For right now, I was thinking all Zoom meetings would be about 45 minutes, at 3 pm (Mondays and Thursdays, come to whichever works for you) — they’re drop-in meetings, and optional, so you don’t have to stay the whole time or even come at all. Let me know if 3 pm isn’t a good time for you anymore.  Also I’ll be holding these meetings even when we don’t have PD just if you need extra support.

Monday, March 30: Optional Zoom meeting. Everybody welcome.

By Thursday, April 2, EVERYONE post drafts of Lit narrative assignments. I will be posting assignments and more examples ASAP but I have to get to work and get on that computer first). Optional Zoom meeting.

Mon Monday April 20:

  • Optional Zoom meeting
  • Make sure you have sent your colleagues feedback on their lit narrative assignment on the OL website. (This will complete what would’ve been meeting 5) by April 20
  •  will post the info describing 1101 units 2 and 3. I will post homework, which will be a short reading, and reflection. Please note: your drafts of units 2 and 3 will be due Monday May 5

By Thurs April 23:

  • Optional Zoom meeting
  • Short Reading and reflection due  by April 23 on OpenLab.
  • For next time, comment on two of your peers’ reflections.

Mon April 27:

  • Optional Zoom meeting
  • By this date, make sure you have commented on two of your peers’ reflections. (This will complete meeting 6)
  • I will post the activities for the week– something to watch and listen to.
  • Drafts of Units 2 and 3 will be April 4 (the following week)

Thurs April 30: Optional Zoom meeting.

By Monday May 4:

  • Optional Zoom meeting
  • Make sure you’ve posted your comments on your peers’ lit narratives on the OpenLab (This will complete meeting 7)

More details to follow about our last meeting, but likely something will be “deliverable” by May 18.

Education interviews

Project #2: Introductory Interviews with Image and Text

In our First-Year Learning Community, you have already introduced yourself in class and on our site, and reflected on your first weeks of college. For our this project, imagine you are being interviewed for an online publication about first-year students in your major—you can imagine this will be a publication from your department to be featured on an OpenLab site, or dream bigger and imagine that it’s a feature on a professional site in your field, such as the AIGA Eye on Design site, with the article by Emily Gosling, “Today’s Design Grads Are More Woke Than Ever—and It’s Looking Great,” about a recent design graduate or the interview, or Ksenya Samarskaya’s interview, “Nontsikelelo Mutiti on Interrogating the Euro-centric Design Canon.”

Choose or create an avatar to represent you on the OpenLab. You might need to reconsider your avatar choice if you’ve already selected and uploaded one. Write one or two paragraphs in which you describe the image well enough that your readers need not look at it to know what it looks like, call attention to specific details in the image, and explain how the image represents you, specifically the you you’re representing in the interview.

In your interview, you will identify and answer 5 questions, four of your choosing from among our brainstormed list, plus the question about your avatar: What is your avatar and how does it represent you? Be sure to write more than the 5 and choose from among your best answers to shape a profile of you as a first-year design student. There might be some repetition from one question to the next, but that should be minimal, and instead each question should provide different information about you, your experience, your vision for your future, your goals, your artistic sense*, your place in your chosen profession’s world, that professional world’s place in your life, etc. Refer to the list we brainstormed for the range of questions, and feel free to modify as needed to best answer the questions.

The project overall should be approximately 750-1200 words, with each answer being roughly 100-200 words with an introduction framing the interview approximately 150-200 words.

Throughout your project, you can include images to express yourself better—not only your avatar but also other images that express you as a student in an aesthetic field, as a future  professional, etc. Use the publications from Eye on Design as a model, your visual library and other sources (be sure you’re allowed to use their work!) for images to include, and feel free to be creative!

Ultimately, the materials you develop here can become part of your OpenLab profile or your ePortfolio’s About Me page.

Requirements for this project:

  • Add your work on our course site as comments or posts, according to instructions.
  • When adding a post, use the category ENG Project #2, and add any tags that you find appropriate, indicating both substance and which part of the project your post corresponds to (draft, final, etc). For the final draft, use the tag Deliver.
  • complete the related homework posts described on our Ways of Seeing site
  • include your avatar image
  • re-read your work carefully several times, making changes as needed based on your ideas and feedback from me or from your peers
  • post your finished work, approximately 750-1200 words, to our site by Th 10/10 11:30am
  • Be prepared to write a cover letter in class on Th 10/10.

*I ask about artistic sense in this assignment for learning communities with Communication Design and Architectural Technology

1101: Unit 1

Literacy Narrative Assignment – Nadine Lavi

Essay #1 Literacy Narrative

For Unit 1, we will read several literacy narratives. “Mother Tongue,” by Amy Tan focuses on the various “Englishes” that the author, a Chinese-American writer who had trouble fitting in until she found her own, unique “voice” as a writer in English, and her mother, an elderly Chinese native whose English was less than perfect, but who nevertheless, managed to make herself be understood and taken seriously by others. The author gives various anecdotes about how the different Englishes she grew up hearing, at home and at school, conflate with the Englishes her mother uses, and the times when they, or are not effective.

We will also read Donald Murray’s “All Writing is Autobiography,” about the “voices” that he uses when he writes about himself, and how they correspond to different parts of his identity.

In this unit’s writing assignment,  you will write an essay in response to the statement,  “My voice is that of a __________.” (Fill in the blank – with a noun that describes your identity or the identity that you are trying to establish and the voice(s) that you use to affirm that identity) (For example, some of the words that you might use to describe yourself might be: survivor, martyr, kid, seer, cynic, wizard, multi-cultural, multi-gendered, player, stand up guy, lady, bitch, boss, ceo, activist, sibling, parent, student, etc.).

Think about the role that language plays in terms of your identity and your voice. The purpose of this is to connect your participation in this class to the rest of your experiences with writing in your life. As a result, each of you will bring something of yourselves to this assignment and to the class as a whole, and you will leave the course with a greater comprehension of what the usefulness of this class and how to take the steps and practices we will use and transfer them into other writing situations and settings.

In preparation for this assignment, you should read the two examples of literacy narratives: Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue,” and Donald Murray’s “All Writing is Autobiography,” and a third literacy narrative. Use them as models for your essay.

Think about the following and include them when you write:

  • Your culture’s approach to reading and writing
  • Your family’s “English” and how it is similar to or different from the English you learned in school
  • Your thoughts about your earliest experiences with English (reading, writing, school, etc.)
  • Any story or book that you liked which may have shaped you
  • Your unique voice and how that reflects your strengths, weaknesses, path, and goals in life

Your essay will be approximately 3-4 pages long, with your title, indented paragraphs, double spaced, Arial or Calibri 11 point font, with 1 inch margins all around.

Take some time to jot down notes and any words that come to mind (word associations) about your early recollections of English and how that intersected with your voice. Use the first person, “I.’ Bring in two printed copies for our peer review class, and turn in a final draft electronically and a bring an extra hard copy to class to hand in to me.

Email me if you have any questions.

Nathaniel’s Literacy Narrative Assignment Draft

Literacy Narrative Assignment Draft           Due Date: February 15, 2021           Prof. Amity Nathaniel

You’ve read “Da State of Pidgin Address” by Lee Tonouchi and watched “The Dangers of a Single Story” Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which are two narratives about personal experiences involving language and education. Through these two pieces, and various other texts and videos that we’ve so-far examined in Unit One about vernacular language, literacy, and education, we have identified some of the dilemmas involving these topics—particularly when it comes to standardized English and the communities of people who are largely (and negatively) impacted by the system of “perfect” English and misconceptions about their intelligence. Now, it’s time for you to share your own personal narrative! Write about your experiences at school involving your natural vernacular and misconceptions people may have had about you.

There are several ways you can tackle this assignment. As long as you are writing and reflecting about the general topic at hand, you can draft your essay in whatever storytelling method feels best to you.

As Tonouchi does, you can write an essay about vernacular being taught in schools by using examples from your own experiences and by showcasing the importance of your personal language system. Examples of topics:

  • Did you have a teacher who taught non-standard English in the classroom or a teacher who was extremely strict with standard English? What was the classroom experience like?
  • Do you code-switch or code-mesh when you’re in school?
  • What is your proudest writing moment in school? What language style did you write in? 

Or, you can follow Adichie’s method about misconceptions involving language. Examples of topics:

  • Detail a stereotype you were labeled with in school.
  • Share a story about a lesson you learned outside of the classroom.
  • Discuss a book that really changed the way you viewed the world.

These are just examples; you can specify any particular educational incident that really impacted the way you viewed your writing skills, your education, your culture, and your language system(s).

Please write 800-1000 words. Use size 12 font and Times New Roman font style. Good luck!

Literacy Narrative, 1st Draft

Unit 1: Literacy Narrative Essay

In this unit, we are investigating the place of language and writing in our lives. We’ve read and discussed (formally and informally) narratives that examine language—both spoken and written, with the following goals in mind:

We have:

  • reflected on the varied experiences of language and writing, and how language shapes our identity and community, and the role writing (and reading) plays;
  • reflected on the languages we use with friends, with relatives, immediate family, fellow students, teachers, supervisors, etc;
  • reflected on our relationships to language and looked critically at our own writing processes.

Part I: Narrative (800 words, minimum)

We will write an essay about a significant event in your experience as a writer/student. Consider what you’ve written in the journal entries: perhaps you want to expand on some of the things you have written there. Remember the different ways the writers we’ve discussed write about their own experience as writers/speakers of language.

You may want to write about:

  • an event in your educational career that was particularly formative;
  • a specific literacy/learning event that led you to become the thinker you are today;
  • the first time you had a profound experience related to language;
  • your experience as a writer in this class so far, or in writing classes in general

Whatever the context you choose from the examples above, you should:

  • talk about how the event shaped your relationship to reading and writing, or to school/education in general;
  • how your particular experience relates to some of the bigger social and cultural issues we discussed in class, such as race, the education system, Standard Written English (SWE), etc;
  • reflect upon how your experience has enabled you to understand something specific about reading, writing, learning, or language AND how that understanding reflects on the communities/world you inhabit.

This assignment isn’t meant to be a traditional essay with a thesis statement and five structured paragraphs. Instead, this is you relating to your peers the story of who you are as someone who belongs to a particular speech and/or writing community, and your history as a reader and writer. In that spirit, you can choose to format or write this in whatever way you think best communicates your story honestly.

Part 2: Share, Respond, and Reflect

After you have completed the first draft, you will bring in copies of you to share with your peers. You will share these essays with your group, and, after reading each other’s essays, provide thoughtful, critical feedback (a worksheet will be provided).

Note what you think works and what you think could use some work. After the session, write an email based on your responses on the worksheet (~250 words) to each of your group members responding to their paper with your comments and suggestions. You will attach a copy of this email to your final draft.

In addition to the email, you will write a reflection (250 words), also to be attached to the final draft. In this, you will explain:

  • why you chose to write the way you wrote
  • what insights you’ve gained from the readings, the journals, and your peers
  • what you think worked and what you might improve on

Due Dates

  • Conceptual Outline: XX
  • Rough Draft: XX
  • Final Draft: XX

All deadlines are absolute. If you do not turn in the assignments on the published deadlines, you will receive zero points for that particular deadline. This will be discussed further in class.


You will receive two grades on this assignment. The first grade will be on your narrative. The grade will depend on the following:

  • depth and clarity of your writing
  • organization of thoughts
  • concreteness of details
  • details support the greater narrative/argument

The second grade will be on the responses to your peers and your reflection. The grade will depend on the following:

  • thoughtful response to each peer (this must cover both the things you think worked as well as suggestions for improvement)
  • thoughtful reflection on why you chose to write the way you wrote, what insights you gained, and what you think worked on your narrative and what you hope to improve upon

This assignment was adapted from Andrew Stone’s U1 assignment on https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/fywpd/category/unit-assignments/


Literacy Narrative Assignment – Kieran Reichert

Essay #1: Literacy Narrative

In this unit, we have read several examples of literacy narratives. In “Mother Tongue,” we read about the Amy Tan’s mother’s “broken English” and how that, along with several pivotal educational experiences, made Tan the writer she is. In “All Writing is Autobiography,” Donald Murray talked about the different parts of himself he brings into his different writing projects. These were both literacy narratives, which are stories writers tell about their relationship to reading and writing.

In this unit’s writing assignment, you will write in response to the question “What does literacy mean to you?” that is personal, meaningful, and considered. You will describe experiences or events that have been important in shaping the kind of writer and reader you have become, or experiences that illuminate the role that literacy plays in your life. The purpose of this essay is to link your participation in this class to the rest of your experiences with writing in your life. As a result, each student will bring some fuller portion of themselves to the page and, the course will be enriched, and, in turn, you all will exit the course with a deeper understanding of what this course meant to you and how to take the tools we craft and hone outward into future writing situations. 

In preparation for this assignment, you have read two examples of literacy narratives — Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” and Donald Murray’s “All Writing is Autobiography” — and you will read a third sample student literacy narrative. Look to them for guidance.

If you feel stuck, think and write about the following prompts:

  • What is your current attitude toward reading/writing?
  • What are your beliefs about yourself as a reader/writer?
  • What happened in the past to make you have that attitude or those beliefs?
  • What experiences were most significant?

Also, consider the following areas of experience you might explore:

  • your family’s attitude toward reading/writing
  • your own reading/writing experiences in and out of school
  • what you remember about learning to read/write
  • what successes or failures you have had connected to reading/writing
  • a particular book that had an impact on you
  • your reading/writing strengths
  • your reading/writing weaknesses.

Your essays will be >750 words (approx. 4 pages) in length, double-spaced in a normal 12-pt font (Cambria, Baskerville, Garamond, Times, etc.), with 1” margins all around. You should write your name and course details in the header, and page numbers in the footer.

Given the nature of this essay, you should draw from personal experience, and you may use the first-person “I” when doing so. You will bring in two printed copies to our peer review session in class and turn in a final draft electronically and physically by the beginning of class on __________.

Please feel free to stop by my office hours or shoot me an email with any questions.


Literacy Narrative

Prof. Ruth Garcia

English 1101, Semester

Unit 1: Literacy Narrative Writing Assignment (850-word minimum)

Due: xx/xx/xx


In class we have read, discussed, and analyzed Sandra Cisneros’ “Only Daughter,” Malcolm X’s “Learning to Read,” and Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue.” In these narratives, the writers discuss their experiences with education in connection to elements of their identity; or, they discuss events that have shaped the kinds of readers and writers they are.

Now, for this assignment you will use these writers as models and write an education narrative of your own. What is a particular event that affected how you viewed or experienced education? Alternatively, what is a particular event that illustrates how an element of your identity affected your educational experience?

In developing your narrative, and regardless of which question you choose, you should reflect on your experience and the significance of your story. As you write, you should also keep in mind Mike Bunn’s “How to Read Like a Writer” and think about your purpose and audience as these will help you makes decisions about your content, style, and tone.

You will be graded on:

  • Your ability to develop an overall point/significance for your narrative.
  • Concrete, significant detail (are you painting us a picture?)
  • Focused event (did you focus on one event or connected, series of events?)
  • The thoughtfulness of your reflections (is there a point?)
  • The carefulness of your proofreading and organization You should be able to explain the choices you made.
  • Word count: At least 850 words!
  • Whether or not it’s on time

Julia Ait-Ziane Unit 1 Draft

Unit 1 Literacy Narrative

Let’s start with a definition.  What is a narrative?  According to the dictionary, a narrative is a “spoken or written account of events.” What is literacy? Again, according to the dictionary, literacy is “the ability to read or write.”  So, if you put those two words together, what I’m looking for you to produce by the end of this unit is a piece of writing (yes that is our mode of communication…for now) that describes your experiences as both a reader and writer, from birth to present dayIt is not an autobiography of your whole life.  It is a close-up of events that apply directly to your development as a reader and a writer.  As the camera gets closer, there should be many things that we readers can see, so the focus of this paper is on details, as well as analysis of these details.

Consider these questions as you write:

  • What experiences have shaped you as a writer? (positive and/or negative)
  • What experiences have shaped you as a reader? (positive and/or negative)
  • What do all these details add up to? (What’s the bigger picture here?  Connect the separate dots of your experiences with a common thread)
  • How do you view yourself as a reader and writer now?

We will be reading and discussing how others experience language in different ways and forms.  We’ll also be watching things as well.  Hopefully, all these examples will help you articulate your own experiences with both topics.

Proposed Readings (complete articles, essays and a lone poem)(links will be included on the syllabus):

“Me Talk Pretty One Day” – David Sedaris

“The Sacred Spell of Words” – N. Scott Momaday

“The Writing Revolution” – Peg Tyre

“Does Texting Affect Writing?” –Micheala Cullington

“Introduction to Poetry” – Billy Collins


The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X

Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

The Story of My Life – Helen Keller

“Maya Angelou, The Art of Fiction No. 119” – George Plimpton


You will also be responding to specific questions on Open Lab to start building components of your narrative.  There will be specific questions to answer, and the order of these questions will hopefully help you with the details and structure of your assignment:

Post 1 – 9/2 – David Sedaris discusses his French teacher in his short essay “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” Write about a positive or negative experience with a teacher or instructor in your past.

Post 2 – 9/9 – Tyre discusses how one high school changed its citywide writing scores by changing their writing programs.  Write about your high school writing classes.

Post 3 – 9/14 – Cullington discusses the impact of technology on people’s writing skills.  Write your opinion about the impact of technology on your writing skills.

Post 4 – 9/16 – Maya Angelou describes her writing routine.  Describe your own writing routine.  Even if you think you don’t have one, you probably do!  Think about the room you write in or the mode that you write in.

Each of these posts may contribute to your Unit 1 final project. It is imperative that you complete them before your first draft is due!  You might be able to lift one of your posts out and transfer it to your paper.

First draft due (850 words) (bring a copy to class): 9/21

Final draft due (850 words) (upload to OpenLab):  9/30


Grading Schema:

  • Concrete significant detail
  • Analysis of your experience
  • Carefulness about sentence clarity and organization
  • Word Count: 850
  • Whether or not prep work (Posts and first draft) were done


My remote teaching experience thus far:

To say I feel like a fish out of water is putting it mildly.  Also, I’ve never felt so chained to the computer.  If I’m not posting stuff, I’m reading submissions and responding back to them.  I feel like I’m sending my responses out into the ether of the cyber world.  I was using Open Lab with both my classes, but I really miss the face to face contact.  Video chats just don’t cut it.  One positive is that I started using posts more and I find that I’m interacting with the students more informally.  I’m making jokes and they’re making jokes back.  I really think that posts will become a permanent feature in my future classes. Also, despite the various ways that I have to contact students, I’m not hearing from more than half of them.  The students who were keeping up with the work in the class are still keeping up, but the students who were struggling are really struggling now.  I’m not sure what I can do to bridge that gap that is probably caused by a number of factors: lack of technology, access, sick family members, etc.  That is really the most frustrating thing.