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?

2 thoughts on “Rebekah Coleman Unit 1 Literacy Narrative Project

  1. Carrie Hall

    Rebekah, all in all, I think this assignment is very good. It’s clear, thoughtful and well-scaffolded. My main suggestion is that you… simplify a bit. Really, even now if someone told me I had to write an essay about my own literacy and cover History, Process, Influences, and Language while using multiple narrative techniques, I’d choke. I think the first two paragraphs, focusing on one or two events in the students’ lives, is plenty for the first writing assignment in college. And then I would ask them to choose one mentor text and explain why they want to emulate that one. You can ASK all the questions you do, but as generative questions, not that they need to cover all of these topics.

    You should know that we’re going to be online in the fall, at least for the first month, so you won’t be getting paper copies. So think about that when you think about the format you need your essays in. I’m sort of surprised at the number of people who insist on their essays in 12 pt or 11 pt ___ font. What’s interesting is that you all have equally strict, but totally different rules. I wonder what effect that has on the student, to make them focus on such particulars. Where do these rules come from? What purpose do they serve?

  2. Nadine Lavi

    I agree with Carrie about the idea of simplifying. I think if I received an assignment like this, I would find it a bit overwhelming. In a way, it is a compliment to the students to think that they would be able ascertain this about themselves – their identity in terms of reading and writing – but I wonder if they would write much more than a composition about when they learned to read and write, or maybe, about a story that affected them.

    I like your grading criteria and the way you broke it down, but I am not sure that asking the students if their ideas are “well-organized” would elicit more than basic composition structure of a point and details in most paragraphs (the ones that they like or feel comfortable writing about) with a summing up at the end in the conclusion.

    i think that to them, that is “well-organized” writing.

    I think I might use something similar for grading criteria, but I tend to be more specific when I discuss structure in writing as I find the students seem to “take to it” as well.

    I also might have a discussion about what the word “identity”means, if I were doing this with a class as I wonder if they really think about that word in depth. It depends upon the response that is desired as well.

    This assignment seems like it could generate some good discussion and discussion about the texts as well, and maybe even segue to other literacy narratives and ideas about identity and topics other than language.

    All in all, a cool assignment, though.

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