Monthly Archives: April 2020

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: Ruth Garcia

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.







Comment on Cuny distance learning

I hope everyone is doing well, or at least ok. Considerable stress on all including myself due to health crisis, economic uncertainty (Cuny budget, lost jobs, closed businesses etc), and political situation. People I know are getting sick. Some of my students have lost jobs, or parents have closed businesses; some students or parents are still going to work, in hospitals or as home health aides, in retail and food service. So everyone is under strain.

I’m using zoom and getting almost but not quite half of my students to participate. Also, using the blog on OpenLab and focusing on learning effective writing “design” in a blog post. This I basically mirror to paragraph breaks and I focus on clarity and precision in one’s actual statement of one’s thought. Then critical evaluation of one’s own thought and the question: do I actually affirm this thought? Metacognition gives the writer the opportunity to examine his own thought, after he has clearly stated it, and then if necessary, change it.

Zoom is useful and easy, and great for me to “lecture.” To counter this, I make the format to go around the table and have each participant give a personal update on health crisis and family; and questions on the research review. Students who participate it seem to appreciate having contact with me.

Distance learning takes “approximately” as much of my time as in person classes, minus the commute. However, I cannot really monitor who is “paying attention on zoom” and I cannot use in person communication techniques to stimulate discussion.

For office hours, I’ve used live blog sessions and I’m using Zoom. Also I am availiable on email and students have been in contact with me.

Main problem with blog. Not sure if students are really reading each other’s posts or even mine.

Nevertheless, I feel, subjectively, fwiw, that it’s working pretty well. Students seem to want to attend the Zooms. Though it’s not consistent—some are very busy.

Comments on Gilyard, excerpt from Voices of the Self

I’ve only read the excerpt here. I note that he was a Stuyvesant HS student, which I assume is the elite public HS in NYC since …..a long time(?) I believe Thelonious Monk was a student there. I know a couple of people who graduated there, and they are impressive.

My point—Gilyard was a high achieving student. Yes, he was “interrupted” by getting into drugs and crime. But he had to have had a strong foundation in traditional “academics.” So it’s not surprising to me he went on to be a professor and a writer.

For instance, to me, the excerpt we read is “standard written English.”

Not to say our students couldn’t do the same thing, or go on to be successful. But many of the students who have difficulty at City Tech do not have a strong “academic” foundation. We all know it’s easy to teach students who already have the “basics.”

Thus, we return to the same problem as from the beginning. How to engage the student who is not already motivated and “prepared” in a traditional academic sense.

Literacy Narrative Assignment–draft, James Wu

Literacy narrative for NYCCT 1101

Draft of 5 (?) week unit—4-1-2020

James Wu

What is writing?


Frederick Douglass, Excerpt from Autobiography of Frederick Douglass “Learning to Read and Write”

What is the value of reading and writing?

How does slavery dehumanize the so-called masters?

Do some additional research on Douglass.


Ernest Hemingway. 2 short stories about writing. “Now I Lay Me”; “I Guess Everything Reminds You of Something.”

What is Hemingway’s idea of writing? How does memory play a role in writing?

Try using his method in your reflection or in your literacy narrative.


Camilo Jose Cela. Short excerpt from Family of Pascual Duarte p.82-86

Discussion questions to follow.


Keith Gilyard, Excerpt from Voices of the Self

Have you encountered obstacles in your education?

Do you think Gilyard made bad choices?

Compare and contrast your experience to Gilyard’s.


Student writing

a.  4 short reflections on each reading—post to OpenLab.

 b.  Write your own literacy narrative (1500-2000 words)

What do think is the relationship between reading and writing? What is your current writing practice, including text, email, social media, etc.? What goals do you have in becoming a better writer? What social, family, emotional, economic obstacles have you met in pursuing your education?

What has been your response to those obstacles?

Literacy Narrative Assignment: Patrick Redmond

English 1101

Literacy Narrative Project


Eudorah Welty: “One Writer’s Beginnings”

Amy Tan: “Mother Tongue”

Keith Gilyard: “Voices of The Self” (excerpt)


In this unit, we are reading narratives about a few authors’ important, formative experiences with reading, writing, and education. They all have stressed that these experiences went on to help shape them as writers and individuals.  I now want you to write about your formative education. Think about your beginning experiences with writing, reading and the education that you received and write a narrative that expresses this to the reader.

The assignment will be in two parts:

First Reflection Due 9/3

The first part (25% of full grade) is a short reflection (250-500 words) about your education. 

 Ask yourself  how did your education affect you? Was the classroom experience positive or negative? Were there situations that could have been handled better by your educators? Were there any outside-of-the classroom education opportunities that shaped you?  Do these experiences continue to affect you till this day? 

First draft due 9/17, Final Draft 9/24

The second part (75% of your full grade) is the narrative. After you have reflected on the above questions, I then want you to think of one educational experience that shaped you, and write 750-1000 words about this experience. If you need help, look through the texts we have read again to help you formulate your narrative.  

Note: We will be having a peer review on 9/17 so it is very important that you attend this day. If you cannot make it to the peer review you must 


This assignment will be graded with the rubric on the syllabus I gave you the first day of class, however since this is a personal essay you may write “informally.” The stronger paper will focus on detail, organization, and reflection.


The final essay should be double spaced, 12pt. Times New Roman font, and in  MLA format. If you have any questions outside of class about MLA format please visit Purdue Owl online as I have pointed out in class and it will show you how to properly format your paper.

*If you need help, feel free to contact me by email. I would be more than happy to answer any questions before or after class in addition to my office hours .