Assignment 2

Assignment 2:  Literacy Narrative (revised by decision of class 10/01/12)

Assignment Overview:  Students will develop a curated collection of Literacy Narrative audio essays to be submitted to the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives.

In working towards this final text, students will complete several tasks:

Students will compose a alphabetic text version of their own narratives about literacy practices and values (500 words) and a music reflection (250 words).  After students have authored their own Literacy Narrative and submitted it to the DALN, they will collect and edit three more literacy narratives using selection criteria for interview subjects determined by the class, and write a short critical introduction (250 words) to their collection


•     Students will become familiar with the history and characteristics of the genres of personal literacy narratives and reflections.

•     Students will author three texts that help them articulate and reflect on their personal experiences with literacy: 1.) a written statement (500 words) that describes the development of their literacy, their composing statement, or other moment in their lives related to their literacy practices and values; 2.) an audio recording of their literacy narrative; 3.) a critical introduction to their collection of three literacy narratives.

•     Students will demonstrate skill in audio recording and editing.

•     Students will demonstrate the ability to listen to and productively analyze audio texts using a rhetorical framework (audience, purpose, form, information).    

View Evaluation Criteria for Audio Assignment Here


Task #1:  Listening and Reading

Go to the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives and explore.

Look through the Table of Contents and read about what a Literacy Narrative is.

Browse through the archive by collection, recent submissions, or key terms. Select two of your favorite narratives to download and bring to class (on your jump drive, external hard drive, or computer.  We’ll play some of these in class.

Be prepared to discuss the following questions:

•       What makes each essay memorableaccessible, and effective?

•       What move characterize the introduction of a good literacy narrative?  The conclusion?

•       What is the role of personal experience in a good literacy narrative?  Stories?  Reflection? Commentary?

•       Who is the audience for a literacy narrative?

•       What other strategies did authors employ in your favorite literacy narrative?

•       What quality of voice/reading characterize a good literacy narrative?

Due: Monday, Sept 24


Task #2:  Identifying a Personal Literacy Practice, Value or Experience

“For ‘what makes the telling justifiable’ is also a commitment to a certain set of presuppositions about oneself, one’s relation to others, one’s view of the world and one’s place in it.  So given that autobiography is also a form of ‘taking a stand,’ it is perforce rhetorical.” ~ Jerome Bruner

To get started, write a personal statement that distills your unique literacy practices and values into a statement of no more that 500 words. You are writing to a public audience—to people who want to know more about the key tenets that shape the way you think about literacy, composing, and their attendant practices and values, the ideas that you are willing to commit to in a public way.

Due: Wednesday, Sept 26; Revision: Friday, Oct 5

Format:  Written paper in MLA format.    


Task #3:  Recording a Literacy Narrative Audio Essay

Using a recording device, make an audio recording of your literacy narrative.

Using Garageband (which will be introduced to you in class), edit this text, eliminate any unwanted material (pauses, mistakes, unnecessary repetition) adjust the volume, and add musical bumpers if you want to.

Because this assignment is designed to produce an audio essay, the goal is to record a text that does not sound as if you are reading it from a piece of paper. This text should sound fresh, un-rehearsed, spoken from the heart—even though a great deal of work has gone into its crafting. The Italian word for this approach was called sprezzatura by Baldassare Castiglione, a 15th century author. With this term, Castiglione was trying to describe the art of appearing effortless, artless, seamless, easy—even when the opposite is true and a great deal of effort went into a text, it was difficult to produce, it required many drafts to complete, you had to think about the ideas a great deal. Because your essay is an audio text, it should demonstrate some variety and range of aural effects: emphasis, pace, tone, rhythm, loudness/softness, etc. The recording quality of this text is important.  The sound should be clean, free of distracting noise and static, of high quality.

For this assignment, you can include short and appropriate musical bumpers (intros and outro) if you would like (optional).

For some extra inspiration, listen to these:

Anonymous “Memory Work” <>

Anonymous “I am A Creative Being” <>

Anonymous “The Lost Art of Note Passing”<>

Kelly Smith “What is ‘Good’ Writing?” <>

Emily Schikora “Literacy as Transformation” <>

John McBrayer “Adventures in Reading” <>

Megan Ahern “Where is the Love” <>

Laura Roherm “Almost Pretty” <>

John LaMotte “From Ludacris to Shakespeare”  <>

Lindsay Hearts “Lindsay Hearts’ Literacy Narrative  <>

Al Smith “Short Bus” <>

Melanie Yergeau “Dropping out of High School” <>

Scott DeWitt “Staying in the Lines” <>

Karin Hooks “An Old Chalk Board” <>

Valerie Lee “Literacy Narrative <>

Darius Streets “My Introduction to Love” <>

Lauren Elder “The Literacy of Recipes” <>

Glen Armstrong “Music Narrative” <>

Terrance Tate “My Life” <>

Tonya Adams “Mommy Daughter Library Stories” <>  


Some DALN TESOL Narratives Annah Marzia Zaidi  <>

Kulsum Soonasra <>

Hannah Keyung Lee <>

Yusuf Muhammed “Everyone has a Gift” <>

Sky Wang “Learn English as I Travel” <>

Deqa Mahammed “My Mother’s Struggle” <>

Viral Patel “Literacy Soundtrack <>

Sofia Gomez “Early Language Education”  <>

Debleena Biswas “A Toast” <>

Anonymous “Literacy Narrative of a Deaf Korean Graduate Student” <>

Randall Freisinger “Dead Language” <>

Keunho Shin “Studying with TV”  <>

Due: Wed, Oct 10

Format:  MP3 titled with your last name, saved on your thumb drive.  In addition, create a page for your blog that houses both your alphabetic literacy narrative as well as your audio version.


Task #4: Curating a collection of 3 Literacy Narratives Read Stories that Speak to Us.  Read in particular the foreword and introduction. Visit several of the collections.  Select two of your favorites to share in class.

What qualities does a good digital collection exhibit? What is the organizing thread for the collection? How do the narratives in the collection play with that theme in similar ways? In different ways?

Select three people to interview based on the selection criteria developed in the class. Record and edit their literacy narratives. Write a short, critical introduction or abstract to your collection.

Preparing and Presenting Your Exhibit. Think of your exhibit as the catalog accompanying an exhibit in a gallery.

You should prepare a 750- to 1000-word Introduction to your exhibit of the sort you might find accompanying an exhibit at an art museum or library. Explain the settings and occasions associated with the narratives (for those oral history interviews you conducted); provide some contextual information about the narratives, if available; and introduce the themes that emerge in your analysess of the individual narratives. Then, for each of the narratives in your exhibit, provide a detailed analysis (500–750 words) linking each narrative to the themes you introduced in your Introduction. See the abstracts to the collections on Stories that Speak to Us site for inspiration.


Evaluative Criteria. Evaluation of your digital exhibits will focus on your Introduction and individual analyses, which will be judged by how clearly they are written and how well they address the goals of this assignment:

  • clear explanation of the rationale for analyzing the three narratives together as a “cohort,” including evidence from the narratives and their associated metadata;
  • detailed discussion of any contextual information about the recording of the interviews that might help readers understand the narratives and the themes you discuss;
  • detailed discussion of the themes you discovered and the evidence supporting your identification of those themes;
  • appropriate and clearly revealed organization of your analyses around the themes you discovered in the narratives;
  • carefully composed and edited prose that is free of misspellings, typos, and grammatical blunders;
  • a list of works cited (MLA format), including the audio narratives;
  • presentation of your materials on your blog

Due: Friday, Oct 19  

Format: 3 MP3 titled with your last name and the last name of your subject, saved to your thumb drive.  A written paper with using MLA format.  Post all of your materials to your blog.


Many thanks to Lewis Ulman and the other instructors at DMAC for their good suggestions that appear in this assignment.


Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF