Monthly Archives: March 2020

English 1101 Unit 1 assignment

Just to note, I used this assignment this semester, which I found on the FYW website and found it to work exceptionally well. I made minor tweaks.

English 1101 D371 Paper #1: Literacy Narrative

Due Dates

Proposal/Conceptual Outline: 2/10

First Draft: 2/19

Final Draft: 2/24

In this unit, we are investigating the place of language and writing in our lives. The goal here is to think through, in all of its nuance and contradictions, our varied experiences of language and writing – the ways in which the languages we speak contribute to a developing identity and sense of self/community, and the role writing (and reading) plays in this development. We want to think through personal experience, everyday life – the languages we use with friends, with relatives, immediate family, whomever else we may encounter in whatever context – and begin to consider how we use language differently in different contexts, often to a specific end. We want to begin to devise our own relationships to language. Through our readings, and as we consider our personal relationships to language and look critically at our own writing processes, we should begin to see how the world creeps in, how our everyday experiences of language, of writing, of being in school, are intimately connected to and reflective of the world at large and the institutions we inhabit.

Part I: Narrative (1000-1500 words)

To round out this unit, each of you will write an essay about a significant event in your experience as a writer/student. Consider what you’ve written in your observations: perhaps you want to expand on some of the things you have written there. Consider also the different ways the writers we’ve looked at 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

You should talk about how the event shaped your relationship to reading and writing, or to school/education in general. Or else, you will want to talk about 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 English, etc. In any of these cases, you should 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.

In this assignment you should seek to: describe your reading and writing processes, and the relationship between the two; gain a greater sense of how your personal experience of literacy, and how those experiences have shaped how you envision yourself as a writer in the current world; reflect on your own schooling and educational influences, and examine the social and technological issues involved in accessing language fluency; and explore understandings of the ethnic and cultural diversity of written English, as well as the influence of other registers, dialects, and languages.

This is not a 5-paragraph essay. This is you relating to your peers the story of whom 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.

You don’t have to choose a good event, or a happy one. You do not have to pretend. Write honestly, and with as much care as you can muster.

A note: this is not an excuse to write something unfocused or sloppy. You are allowed to be creative. You should absolutely be descriptive. Stay away from vague or general claims and clichés. It’s your life, you know it best and to the smallest detail – use that to your advantage.

Part 2: Reflection

After you have completed the first draft, you will bring in three copies of your essay – one for me and two for two of your peers. You will share these essays with your group, and, after reading each other’s essays, provide thoughtful, critical feedback. I will hand out a sheet with a list of questions to help guide you in your peer review. Note what you think works and what you think could use some work. You will attach a copy of the two letters and your first draft to your final draft.

Once you receive your grade, you will hand in a reflection (400 words). In this, you will explain:

  1. Why you chose to write the way you wrote
  2. What insights you’ve gained from the readings and your peers’ essays
  3. What you think worked and what you might improve on



Rebekah Coleman Unit 1 Literacy Narrative Project

Project 1: Literacy Narrative

Due Dates:

  • My Reading/ Writing Identity Due:
  • Amy Tan Response Due
  • Antonio Vargas Response Due:
  • Donald Murray Response Due:
  • Draft of Narrative Due (for in class revision and editing):
  • Final Version Due:

**NOTE** All work is due at the beginning of class.

You must both hand in a printed version of the assignment and post it on the class OpenLab site.

**Please Do NOT** wait until the last minute to ask me questions. Come and visit me during office hours or email me during the week with questions.

What is a Literacy Narrative?

A literacy narrative tells the story of the development of a person as a reader and writer. It may capture important pieces of the author’s identity, struggles, turning points, or people who influenced them.


You will craft a memoir of at least 1000 words. The memoir should depict a moment that captures an important element of your life with a focus on the development of your reading or writing identity—a turning point, a place, person, community or experience that influenced your identity, an important lesson that was learned, a time you learned something about yourself as a reader or a writer.

You will not tell the whole story of your life, but rather present a slice of your life. You will focus on one or two key events, moments, people, etc. that influenced the development of your literacy identity. The memoir should tell a personal story about your experience as a reader and a writer.

Mentor Authors

We will use the readings “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan, “My Life as An Undocumented Immigrant,” by Antonio Vargas, and “All Writing is Autobiography” by Donald Murray.

Guiding Questions

Use these questions as a guide. The memoir should NOT be a series of paragraphs that answer each of these questions, but rather use them to guide your thinking and inspire ideas. While you should address each of the focus areas (history, process, influences, and language), they do not have to follow the order presented here. The memoirs should tell a compelling story of your literacy development.

  1. History: You will tell the history of you as a reader and writer. How do you feel about reading and writing? How has reading and writing shaped your identity? Or what factors have shaped your identity as a reader and write? What has influenced the development of your writing identity? What kinds of reading and writing have you done in the past? Have you enjoyed it? Why or why not?
  2. Process: Describe the type of reader and writer you are? Where do you like to read and write? What type of reading and writing do you enjoy? What are you successful at as a reader and writer? What struggles or challenges do you face? Does reading or writing in a specific language, voice, or format help or challenge you?
  3. Influences: What people, institutions (school, out of school programs) or communities have helped shape your reading and writing identity. Was there a key moment or person that influenced you and helped shape you into the writer you are today? How has your schooling and education influenced your reading development? Has your literacy development been influenced by social, cultural or political factors?
  4. Language: We have read and talked a lot about the ethnic and cultural diversity of written English. We have explored the ways that authors have grappled with different forms of English in their reading and writing lives and discussed ways speakers and writers use English differently depending on situations, the languages they speak or the dialects they encounter. Reflect on this concept and discuss how the ethnic and cultural diversity of written English may have influenced you.


The assignment must be typed in 12-point Times New Roman Font. It must be double- spaced and have one-inch margins.

If you have any concerns about being able to type the assignment or questions about the formatting, please speak to me by INSERT DATE.

Grading Criteria (more details to come)

Content/ Genre: Is my literary narrative a narrative (story) that tells about my literacy development and my growth as a reader and writer? Do I include all of the required components (History, Process, Influences, Language)? Do I use different narrative techniques to tell the story and strengthen the message?

Organization: Are my ideas well-organized? Does my narrative follow a clear structure?

Purpose and Audience: Is the purpose and intended audience for my narrative clear? Do I write in a tone and voice that matches my purpose and audience?

Presentation: Did I revise for content and edit for grammar, spelling, and conventions? Does it meet formatting requirements? Does it look presentable (not sloppy)?

Citations: If relevant, did I properly cite all sources referenced or used in the piece?

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.


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:

  • 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.

For next week (March 9 and 12)


Please read the excerpt from Voices of the Self  (below.) Please note that Gilyard is now a highly esteemed professor at Penn State. This excerpt comes from a book in which every other chapter is a narrative account of his educational experiences (as this is.) The alternating chapters are scholarly writing about literacy education for African American students, using his own experience as example.

If you have not read it yet, please take a look at “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan HERE

Before next week’s meeting, please also post your end comment on the student essay we reviewed in class as a comment on this post (just click “comment.”) Remember that in Minimal Marking, we usually keep it to 1-2 paragraphs. We write first what the student is doing well, and then we write what we (as a reader) feel like the essay is lacking– where could they improve– in this case, focus on a larger, global concern like organization or providing evidence. Finally, you can choose ONE (at most two) sentence-level concerns you’d like the student to focus on.  Make sure you provide them resources to research this concern on their own! 

Download (PDF, 3.26MB)