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Write a 750-to-1,000-word (3-4-page) MLA-style literacy narrative essay in which you tell a story based on a personal experience with language – reading, writing, or speaking –with the purpose of making a larger point or sharing an important insight, specifically related to your understanding of how and why you have developed into the kind of reader, writer, thinker, or communicator that you have become today. Keep in mind that the main point or insight should transform your story from a personal story to one with broader, universal interest.
While narrative is a flexible form of writing, you will want to think through the following as you plan and publish your essay:
Successful narratives bring an experience to life with details about people, places, and objects and with concrete, descriptive language that evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the experience. Explore your memory for details.
An appropriate structure and clear presentation of events can emphasize your main point for your reader. A narrative can be organized chronologically (in time order)—in forward or reverse—or can be organized as a series of flashbacks. Once you choose a structure, be sure you’re consistent throughout the essay.
Using first person (“I” and “me”) will make your writing more personal and authentic.
While a narrative doesn’t have a traditional thesis statement, a successful narrative has a clear and focused sense of purpose.
Literacy narrative falls under the genre narrative essay, a non-fiction story that makes a point (thesis). Narrative essays are typically autobiographical and draw heavily on the author’s memory of a specific personal experience. The narrative is created through the process of looking back, re-viewing, and (re)interpreting the past from the vantage point of the present. Often, the goal is to help us better understand who we are today, why we are who we are, how we came to be who we are.
To get started, spend some time reflecting on:
influential events, scenes, people
turning points or moments of insightful realization
failures and/or successes
“border crossings,” or passages into new or different uses of language
Make notes to yourself as you reflect. Look for connections between your past and present.
When you’re ready, choose a “theme” for your literacy narrative. (Maybe you just realized how a specific experience influenced your attitude toward reading, or perhaps you vividly recall learning to adapt your speaking or writing for a new discourse community.)
Before you begin publishing your literacy narrative, jot down the point (thesis) you want to make. Don’t get stuck on this point – it might change as you write – but use it to guide your writing.
As you publish, keep in mind that narrative essays require technique. Yours should include:
a focused singular point (think “moral of the story”)
first-person point of view
a clear beginning, middle, and end
You may also choose to provide:
When you are finished publishing, walk away from it for a bit. Then, with fresh eyes, begin revising. Look at big picture issues first. Does the order and arrangement of your story make sense? Is your point clear? Is it, in fact, a literacy narrative? (If you are not sure, reread this assignment sheet from the beginning.) When you are satisfied, move on to smaller revisions such as word choice, punctuation, etc. We will read several example literacy narratives to familiarize ourselves with this genre.
You may also consider these questions as you first think about your approach to this assignment:
Try to recall a moment in your life when speaking, reading, writing, and the like had a big impact on your life.
· How did you learn to read and write? Did you ever teach anyone else to read or write?
· What is your earliest memory of reading and writing?
· Who encouraged you to read and write?
· What events interrupted and/or slowed down your ability and/or desire to read and write?
· Did you apply literacy skills to other content areas: sports, music, video games, etc.?
· What kinds of reading have you done in your past and what kinds of reading to you do now?
· What teachers had a particular impact on your reading and writing?
· What assignments had a particular impact on your reading and writing?
· Have different schools or other institutions had an impact on your reading and writing?
· How do you currently feel about reading and writing?
· What rewards have come from reading and writing?
· Did a special or important event from your past make you the reader and/or writer you are today?
· Was there a moment or moments that were especially empowering?
· Did you ever read a book or poem or song that made sense to you beyond the words on the page?