Oklahoma State University, ENGL 1113: Composition I–Literacy Narrative

Below appears an authoritative version of the guidelines for the Literacy Narrative (LitNarr), superseding any previously published information regarding the LitNarr.


The First-Year Composition Program at Oklahoma State University describes the LitNarr as seeking “To practice and develop writing strategies that include vivid description, a well-told story, and a sense of significance/meaning to the story. To be able to define literacy (see below) and apply this definition to selected contexts [sic].” It defines literacy as “the ability to use context-specific language enabling a communicative act. It is bound up with reading and writing traditionally but may also be considered to include other forms of communication.”

The program stipulates for the LitNarr that “Students will write a 4-5 page narrative essay that explores an experience with literacy and applies writing techniques that include description, a well-told story, and a sense of significance/meaning to the story. The essay will follow MLA conventions for font, margins, page numbering and title.”

Sections of the course taught by Prof. Elliott will need to complete a number of individual tasks to negotiate the assignment successfully:

Information about each follows, along with a copy of the grading rubric and notes.

Select and Read an Article

Owing to the nature of literacy, experiences with it are many and varied among the students who will compose a LitNarr. In the interests of building common points of reference for class discussions, providing examples of the level of discourse appropriate to a general public audience, and in building a knowledge base useful for future assignments in the class, students will focus the LitNarr on one of the following three articles, written by Frank Bruni for the New York Times:

Each is available online. Choose one and read it. While doing so, be sure to take detailed notes of the experiences of selecting and reading (perhaps looking at the assignment guidelines provided below to guide note taking). It is from those notes that the text of the LitNarr will proceed most easily, as it is easier to make notes as matters are in progress and collate them later than to try to recall all of the details at that later time.

Begin on the reading and note-taking as soon as can be done. Early beginnings allow more time for completion, as well as more time for reflection and revision; each conduces to better performance on assigned tasks, which translates into better grades.

Return to top.

Compose the LitNarr PV

After reading the selected article and taking notes on it, draft a narrative that relates your experience of reading to a potential reader who has completed high school in the United States but has not gone to college and who does not share your background, experience, or expertise. In doing so, you will need to provide some background information about yourself—possibly including a summary or distillation of your previous reading experiences—so that your reader can understand from what position and understanding you approach the exercise.

You will also need to offer context for the writing; that is, you will need to offer expressions of the circumstances in which the assignment is being conducted. Remember that you are writing to a reader who does not share your background, and your college coursework is part of that background.

The bulk of the draft should concern itself with the actual narrative. Moving chronologically, report the experience of reading the piece. In telling the story, address such questions as

  • What did you think?
  • What did you feel?
  • What made sense?
  • What confused you?

In essence, tell the story of your selecting and reading the piece you choose.

The draft should conclude with an indication of what implications the literacy experience detailed has for your future work as a reader and writer. That is, consider what the reader can take away from your reported experience of reading.

It is not strictly necessary that the draft be the full required length of the LitNarr FV (four to five full pages, formatted appropriately, equivalent to some 1,400-1,750 words); it is assumed that the work is in progress. That said, a more complete draft is more desirable than a less complete one, largely in that it eases the later work that must be done and offers more opportunity for concrete improvement to the writing that is done. Please note also that the text composed in the draft may well need to change; keep in mind that it cannot get better without changing, and that all writing can be improved.

Please type the draft, either initially or as a later stage of composition, prior to class time on 28 August 2015. Please bring a typed and printed copy of that draft to class as the LitNarr PV on that day; class that day will concern itself with peer review, with students reading and commenting on one another’s papers. (Guidelines for how to do so will be provided.) This will allow students 1) access to other readers to help ensure comprehensibility of their narratives and 2) practice in reading and assessing written work, which they may then apply to their own writing moving forward.

A holistic minor assignment grade will be taken from the presence or absence of your LitNarr PV in class that day; the instructor will call for student drafts while peer review is in session during class that day. A reasonably complete or complete draft for the LitNarr PV will receive an A. One mostly in place but still lacking one or two major components will receive a B. One perhaps half-done will receive a C. One that lacks several major components will receive a D. One that is barely sketched-out will receive an F. Students who arrive in class without drafts will receive a zero for the minor assignment grade, as will those who fail to attend class that day (excepting those covered under class attendance policies expressed in the syllabus and detailed during class discussions).

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of composing the LitNarr PV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

Return to top.

Revise the LitNarr PV into the LitNarr RV

Following peer review of the LitNarr PV, you are strongly encouraged to revise your draft in light of the comments made by your peer reviewer/s. Work from global issues—such as enhancing and clarifying your background and the context of the assignment, rethinking the ordering of the main narrative thrust, and reconsidering the implications of your narrative for other readers—to more local issues—such as how best to transition between each major part, how to transition from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence, and how best to phrase for concision and emphasis. Only after all of that is done should there be any thought of checking and amending as appropriate the surface-level features of formatting, spelling, punctuation, and the like.

The draft that results from that process of revision, the LitNarr RV, should still have an introduction that offers a synopsis of your reading background so that readers can understand your approach to the work, comments offering context for the assignment so that they can understand what it is supposed to do, a narrative that depicts your experience of the process of reading the selected piece, and a conclusion that moves toward what readers can do once armed with the knowledge of your experience of reading the selected piece. It does need to be at the full length of the assignment (four to five full pages, formatted appropriately, equivalent to some 1,400-1,750 words); even though it is still a work in progress, it should be nearing completion. It may still need to change, however, as all writing can be improved.

It is to the end of improving it yet further that the LitNarr RV is to be submitted to the instructor via D2L before the beginning of class time on 4 September 2015. It needs to be a .doc, .docx, or .rtf document, so that comments may be appended to it. A version of the form that will be returned to students along with the reviewed LitNarr RV appears below; assessment standards are outlined more thoroughly thereupon. A minor assignment grade will be taken therefrom. Ideally, the grade and comments will serve to motivate further improvement in advance of the final submission detailed below.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of developing the LitNarr RV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

Return to top.

Revise the LitNarr RV into the LitNarr FV

Once the LitNarr RV is returned—which will be via email through the D2L classlist—you are strongly encouraged to revise it in light of the comments made on it by the instructor. As with revising the LitNarr PV into the LitNarr RV, work from global issues—such as enhancing and clarifying your background and the context of the assignment, rethinking the ordering of the main narrative thrust, and reconsidering the implications of your narrative for other readers—to more local issues—such as how best to transition between each major part, how to transition from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence, and how best to phrase for concision and emphasis. Only after all of that is done should there be any thought of checking and amending as appropriate the surface-level features of formatting, spelling, punctuation, and the like.

The draft that results from that process of revision, the LitNarr FV, should still have an introduction that offers a synopsis of your reading background so that readers can understand your approach to the work, comments offering context for the assignment so that they can understand what it is supposed to do, a narrative that depicts your experience of the process of reading the selected piece, and a conclusion that moves toward what readers can do once armed with the knowledge of your experience of reading the selected piece. It does need to be at the full length of the assignment (four to five full pages, formatted appropriately, equivalent to some 1,400-1,750 words), since it is the final submission of the LitNarr project. While all writing can be improved, there comes a point at which the task of developing a piece of writing must be set aside in favor of other concerns; the LitNarr FV is that point for the LitNarr project.

It is in the interests of providing feedback with which to develop other writing that the LitNarr FV is to be submitted to the instructor via D2L before the beginning of class time on 11 September 2015. It needs to be a .doc, .docx, or .rtf document, so that comments may be appended to it. A version of the form that will be returned to students along with the reviewed LitNarr FV appears below; assessment standards are outlined more thoroughly thereupon. A major assignment grade worth 10% of the total course grade will be taken therefrom.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of developing the LitNarr FV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

Return to top.

Grading Rubric

Please find a copy of the grading rubric that will be applied to the LitNarr RV and LitNarr FV here. Grading of the LitNarr PV is detailed above.

Return to top.

Notes

Aside from the piece read, no outside information should be deployed in completing the LitNarr. Since there will be no need to reference outside information other than the piece read, informal citation will suffice for it—although that informal citation must still be sufficient for a readership that does not share the authorial/narrative background, experience, and expertise to clearly understand the piece being referenced. Failure to provide appropriate informal citation may be treated as an academic integrity violation.

Aside from the examples of such pieces and similar pieces provided in the Norton, many examples of the kind of work to be done for the LitNarr project can be found at the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives, http://daln.osu.edu/. Examples can also be found through the following links (do note that topics may vary from assigned guidelines for the current term):

  • From my old teaching blog, here and here
  • From the Fall 2015 term at Oklahoma State University, here

Review of them is encouraged, as having models to follow tends to make work easier to do.

Return to top.

Geoffrey B. Elliott
9 March 2016

Edited for minor changes to phrasing.

10 thoughts on “Oklahoma State University, ENGL 1113: Composition I–Literacy Narrative

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s