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.







2 thoughts on “Julia Ait-Ziane Unit 1 Draft

  1. Jessica Penner

    Is it clear what the assignment asks students to do?
    I think you have two separate assignments: the essay and the posts. Both are good, but I was a bit confused about how they worked together–or if they were meant to work together.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t have both, but the wording right now caused me to reread and finally I was like, “OH! Okay!” I’d clarify this.

    I’d also make the prompts a little more concrete. Right now they are a bit open-ended (which I like, but a student might not).

    Are the grading criteria clear?

    Yes, though I always stumble on this myself, so other opinions may disagree!

    What learning outcomes does this cover?

    Definitely self-reflection in all of the assignments!

    Will comment more soon…

  2. Carrie Hall

    Julia, there’s a lot about this that I like– for example, I’m interested in the questions of writing routine– or the effects of technology on writing. HOWEVER– I do worry you have too many texts, and I don’t think the assignment itself is quite clear. That is, it’s actually too much in 850 words to talk about one’s entire literacy history, even at age 18. All I think you need to do, though, is to ask students to narrow it down a bit. They are not telling THE story of their literacy history, they are telling A story about their experiences with literacy that they think influences the feelings they have about writing coming into this class. You can use all the low-stakes assignments as possible starting places– they need to try them all, decide which one clicks and then choose where to begin. Then I think it’s gonna be great!

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