Your fourth assignment is to write your own literacy narrative. The autobiographical account will not simply be an autobiography “about me,” but a narrative in which you consider yourself as a social subject shaped by and interacting within a broader world. You will not structure the narrative around “the chronological facts of an existence” but instead around “the psychological facts of forging a life” (as you will remember from assignment 2 about Gilyard’s book), using research from assignment 3 to place your own literacy experiences in the context of broader scholarly, issue-based conversations.
Audience: Readers only vaguely familiar with your authors who are interested in understanding how two scholars approach a similar aspect of a discussion of literacy and language.
Format: 6-8 double-spaced pages; MLA style
Advice: Your narrative should illustrate the connection between your individual experience and your awareness that your experience is unfolding in a certain culture, time, and place that has influenced it. Your literacy narrative should (1) be written in the style that caught your attention and one which you would want to replicate from the first assignment’s narrative; (2) incorporate the theoretical concepts you explored in the second assignment to help you interpret your own story and ground it in a critical context, and (3) comment on what you learned while exploring a particular conversation about literacy in the third assignment.
(FOR INSTRUCTORS ONLY)
Type: Write an essay in a specified genre where evidence is used to convey a new insight to a general reader
Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to help students apply the analytical strategies they have used to interpret other texts to their retellings of their own educational histories. While often personal narratives are placed at the beginning of an assignment sequence, this assignment invites students to apply analytical skills they tested against earlier readings—summary and paraphrase, description, and explanations of cause and effect—in the service of the narrative. [*Note: If an instructor decides to extend the research sequence in assignment 3, the research paper could replace this narrative; in that case, the third assignment would be an annotated bibliography.]
1. Students will return to literacy notebooks kept throughout the course to remind themselves of previous readings that will serve as models for how to compose their own integrated autobiographical and analytical discussion. In week 13 or 14, an instructor might ask each student to teach a mini-lesson on a literacy narrative from the semester that will most influence the style and structure of his or her own piece.