Category Archives: 1101 Unit 1-Lit Narrative

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.

Kieran Reichert FINAL 1101 Unit 1

Essay #1: Literacy Narrative

In this unit, we have read several examples of literacy narratives. In “Mother Tongue,” we read about the titular mother’s “broken English” and how that, along with several pivotal educational experiences, made Amy 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 a response to the question “What is literacy?” in a way that is personal, meaningful, and considered. The question does not ask “what is the definition of literacy?” but rather “what does literacy mean to you?” In this essay, you will relate experiences or events that have been important in shaping the kind of writer and reader you have become, or experiences that illuminate the role of literacy in your life. The purpose of the assignment is to explore this experience in order to gain insight into who you are as a writer and reader, and to examine the role literacy plays into your life. In the end, you will have linked your participation in this class to the rest of your experiences with writing in your life.

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” — 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. Your paper should have a title, an introduction ending in a thesis statement (an answer to the central question of the prompt), several body paragraphs that utilize the Point + Illustration + Explanation model we discussed in class, and a succinct conclusion.

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.


RGarcia Final 1101 Unit 1 Literacy Narrative Assignment

Prof. Ruth Garcia

English 1101, semester

Unit 1: Literacy Narrative Writing Assignment (1000-word minimum)

Due: xx/xx/xx


In class we have read, discussed, and analyzed Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” Malcolm X’s “Learning to Read,” and Sandra Cisneros’ “Only Daughter.” In these narratives, the writers discuss their educational journey—the way their experiences affect their education and shapes their career choices/professional interests, the way they feel about education, and their understanding of the world around them. In addition, in the “Allegory of the Cave,” Plato likens leaving the cave to the painful experience of TRUE education, while being trapped in the cave and being force-fed the shadows on the wall is something of a false education.

Now, for this assignment you will use these writers as models and write an education narrative of your own. You should write a narrative focused on one of the following:

  1. A moment, person, and/or experience that led you to choose your major and shaped your interest in your chosen field.
  2. An experience, or inter-related series of experiences, that shaped how you viewed or experienced education.
  3. An experience in your educational journey thus far that changed how you felt or thought about something important to you.
  4. With Plato and your own experiences in mind, write a narrative in which you show what to you is a true education and explain how it relates to Plato’s ideas.

In developing your narrative, and regardless of which focus 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 1000 words!
  • Whether or not it’s on time

Final Literacy Narrative

English 1101 Paper #1: Literacy Narrative

Due Dates

Proposal/Conceptual Outline:

First Draft:

Final Draft:

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

 How Will You Be Graded?

  • organization of thoughts
  • concreteness of details
  • details support the greater narrative/argument

See attached formal rubric for more detailed explanation of grading


Criteria Excellent








Development of Ideas         40%

·       Does the essay respond fully to the prompt by telling a story about your literacy? Includes reflection and analysis of your experiences, which attributes an overall meaning or lesson to the narrative?

  • Does the essay focus on a specific event or experience?

·       Are supporting points fully explained and supported with evidence and reasoning?


Organization                          40% 

  • Does the author include a clear beginning that pulls readers into the essay?

·       Are paragraphs organized in support of a single idea?

·       Is there a clear connection between each paragraph?

·       Is there a logical pattern of development in support of the main idea?


Mechanics and Usage             20%

·       Does the essay use a variety of sentence lengths and structures to create sentence fluency?

·       Does the essay use effective diction?

·       Does the essay avoid errors in grammar and syntax (particularly those we have covered in class)?

·       Is the essay formatted in MLA document style?