1/31 class notes

Signal phrasing is the key factor when doing homework



Sponsors: help people develop literacy skills

Embedded is a context-values beliefs, customs, language



Concrete agent of literacy: can get connected in person

Abstract agent of literacy: not connected through in touch


Literacy: individual literacy, economic development

The author wants the readers to expand individual to the society level.


Master: supervision, leading people



How could literacy free you (liberation)

Development: go back and get sth from there

Progression: everybody got sth to learn


Difference between hero and success story

Pg626: whats puzzling about the victim narrative-written by privileged class students


Victim literacy: trying to blame it to other person so I don’t take the responsibility for the bad result.


I will see the master narrative at every stories

Personal imperative: thriving, surviving, respect, growth, comfort, admire


Connecting Brandt&Gee

  1. Agents: a person authorized to act on another’s behalf, a person that has the power to act, a natural force used for obtaining specific results

Concrete: a concrete idea, a notion having an actual thing as its referent

Abstract: something that concentrates in itself the essential qualities of anything more extensive or more general.


Recruit: to furnish or replenish with a fresh supply, renew

Regulate: to put in good order

Suppress: to put an end to the activities of people, to do away with by authority

Withhold: to hold back, refrain


At one of the examples at Brandt, African Americans in slavery taught each other to understand the Bible under the sponsorship of Baptist and Methodist ministries. I think this relates to the ‘recruit’ function of the sponsorship    since Baptist and Methodist are supplying new materials for African Americans. Also in my literacy narrative, I acted as a regulating sponsor. By arguing about the right way to evaluate the literacy interpretation ability, I tried to put wrong things into right order.



Reading Alexander pt.2


Key traits of success narrative is that it is written by students of both genders, all races and socioeconomic class. It is often told abstractly, without specific details. It emphasizes on one’s future outcomes based on the process he went through. One of the reasons students choose this narrative is because they know this type of story is valued in our society. The upward mobility literacy myth has long been settled into our culture. No matter what one’s background is he can gain self esteem and material success in this narrative. Also the mindset students have in class is another reason why this narrative is so popular. They get the tools they need to academically succeed from the teachers and act as consumer. With the expectations that those tools will be available to satisfy their needs to success, the students keep consumer minds. I think this makes the most sense to me and one of the samples in Rising Cairn confirms to this. At “How English got turned around” by Shamus Gorman, he met a teacher who would never put an extra effort for the students. This lead him grow negative mindset toward English. Rather than rebelling against the situation and giving up, he decided to use the tools from the new teacher and ultimately changed his mindset. Under the new teacher’s guide, Shamus could gain confidence which resulted in better English grade and school life. His consumer mind to effectively use the tools from the teacher could make this possible.


The key traits of victim literacy narrative is that it is the most common “little” narrative story. It is usually written by socioeconomically and educationally privileged students and is about the negative school based literacy experiences. The narrative shows an evidence that shows negative aspects of school. These features are contrast to the success narrative and it challenges the success story by emphasizing the negative consequences of the literacy. Many people would think students from underprivileged class will write victim literacy narrative but its not. Students who are in privileged class are the majority of the writers. Those students tend to have higher standard for their education and will likely complain if it doesn’t’ satisfy their needs. I think this is the reason for this tendency.


The key traits of rebel literacy narratives is it writes about resisting traditional literacy beliefs. The writer is not against reading and writing but portray themselves as resisting the school system. These negative aspects shows that emotions such as anguish and loss of hopelessness can also be parts of the literacy. It enables readers to learn more about student’s specific histories rather than broad story. This is also the least often performed narratives which takes up only five percent. I think the reason why this narrative is so rare is because it is not really the valued type of literacy in our culture. Also this narrative requires the writers detailed explanation. This could be another reason for why many students choose to write other narratives.


1/24 class notes

Challenges on this paper

-Trying to find stories that fit into the questions

-master the concept of the terms

-Master narrative: unfortunate result of gross overgeneralization

-Master narrative: controls other stories

-potential of the different perspectives affect to the literacy narrative (gender, race, etc)

-episodes: breaking down the units

Things I do

  1. Separate the episodes
  2. put people into categories based on demographic data (who people are, where they came from)
  3. Story could be abstract/ concrete


What is cultural imperative?

Need that the society have (need to train for the next generation/ prevent people from committing crime)

class notes (1/22)

Creativity is finding connection what others don’t find

My main goal in working literacy narrative

Concepts are clusters of ideas that people used to explain

Types of Questions for literacy narrative analysis

-Description (see)

-Connection (Content)

-Significance (interpret)

Reading Alexander

-Alexander refers to the “literacy success story” as a cultural narrative that many student writers borrow from in their own literacy narratives. How does Alexander explain the appeal of this particular narrative? Which, if any, of the Rising Cairnstories you’ve sampled conform to this narrative? Provide support for your answer in the form of details from at least two narratives. If none of the samples you read conform to the narrative, skim 3 or 4 more to see if there are any in Rising Cairn; report on your findings.


One of the most common topics when the students write literacy narrative is “literacy success story”. The focus of this literacy is on the future outcomes of success such as getting good grades and earning more money. The reason why this narrative is appealing to many is because the upward mobility literacy myth has long been settled into our culture. We can easily encounter media portraying a person who gained success through achievement. Another reason for this is the success literacy is based on the idea that no matter what one’s background is he can gain self-esteem and material success. I found some literacy success story in the Rising Cairn. At “How English got turned around” by Shamus Gorman, he met a teacher who would never put an extra effort for the students. This lead him grow negative mindset toward English. This changed when he met a new teacher who had the opposite characteristic than the old teacher. Under the new teacher’s guide, Shamus could change his mindset toward English and could gain confidence which resulted in better school life. His mindset toward English had changed in a positive way. This is the reason why I could relate his story to literacy success narrative. I read similar story written by Michael Tuzzo. His attitude toward English changed in a similar way with Shamus. His grade went up from D to A and getting good grade is one of the factors in success stories.

-The “literacy success story” is an example of what Alexander and others call a “master narrative.” Use direct quotation to define “master narrative,” then paraphrase Alexander’s explanation of why the master narrative she calls the “literacy success story” is problematic, both for students writing them, and for researchers interested in understanding literacy (PRO TIP: if you’re having trouble finding the passages where Alexander explains why the literacy success story is problematic, pay attention to her use of pivotal wordsand voice markers. Look for pivotal words that signal contrast and change and voice markers that signal her disapproval of the master narrative she calls the “literacy success story”).


Many scholars say that connecting literacy and success is faulty and overly generalized myth. Success literacy can empower people but it is also based on the ideas of harsh realities. Actual reality challenge and contradict people’s assumptions about the connections between literacy and success. This inaccurate characteristic of literacy narrative can be referred to as a “master” narrative. A scholar views master narrative limiting because of their normative, institutionalized, legitimizing, and canonical tendencies. The only way to change this is to recognize this master narrative in real life experiences. Another flaw of the master narrative is its over simplification. Students can be affected by this in classes. For example in history classes most of the textbooks are simplified lacking the specific context of the events. They often receive information that is inaccurate, simplistic, and disconnected from the actual reality.

Alexander suggests that “little narratives” offer alternatives for representing one’s literacy experiences. What are “little narratives”? What kinds of people tend to write them? Why are “little narratives” useful for students and literacy researchers? Find at least two examples in your sample of Rising Cairnstories and summarize them here. What makes them “little narratives” in your view?


Little narratives are less generalized and more individualized in contrast to the master narratives. They contain multiple truths, not only one truth. Little narratives are often told by certain groups such as women and minorities. It tends to be more about particular groups and is contextually bound. Students can understand more complex context through little narratives. For example in history, little narratives focus more on specific connections between the events instead of giving a whole vague picture of an event. Also they are more multiculturally based and this makes people realize how diverse world they are living in. What I found about little narratives are more context based. Their role is supplementing the master narrative. In my literacy narrative, the main idea was “literature interpretation should accept different point of views”. I came up with an event when I took literature exam in high school. My answer at multiple choices exam was not admitted but it was finally accepted as an answer after some discussions with the teachers. The lesson of this little narrative was “literature interpretation should not be evaluated as an multiple choice exams”. This idea became the base of the main idea of my narrative.

Reading Rising Cairn

Which literacy narratives did you read? (This can be in the form of a list)?

-Reading Gone Wrong (Shaylee Amidon)

-Expect The Unexpected (Michael Tuzzo)

-How English Got Turned Around (Shamus Gorman)

-Live of Die (Paige Hibbard)

-How I reset my life by reading (Ally Karriker)

-Eyes wide open (Ericka. B)

-My Mom Prepared Me for the World (Alexis Ouellette)

-Literacy Moment (Lindsey Webb)

What ideas and experiences do some of the literacy narratives you read seem to share?

After reading Shaylee Amidon’s ‘Reading Gone Wrong’, it reminded me of my past experience at school. I took a literature exam when I was in high school. One of the questions was about which word in a passage most relates to certain word in a poem. The answer I chose was judged wrong and a lot of other students who chose the same answer were puzzled. I was not persuaded by the teacher’s explanation of the chosen answer and tried to explain how I thought about my answer. After a while, both answers were admitted. I felt from this incident that the ability to interpret literature should not be evaluated by multiple choices exams. Each students understand the certain meaning of the words differently. Literature interpretation depends on one’s background and perception. Multiple choice exams are not the best way to judge the ability. I think this connects to Shaylee’s experience at school. Shaylee was put down for being different by others choices in school. Her book was taken away by her teacher even if she convinced the teacher it was not adult books. She was put down for a personal choice at other things too but she kept determined attitude toward what she believed was right. I had similar view with Shaylee and this made my choice admitted as another answer at the literature exam.


What unique ideas and experiences did you find in the literacy narratives you read?

At “How English got turned around” by Shamus Gorman, his attitude toward learning English changed after meeting new teacher. At the age of 12, any educational help from a teacher would be helpful but in case of Shamus it wasn’t unfortunately. The teacher he met would never put her effort into the students and always move at her own pace. This made him set a negative mindset toward learning English. However this changed when he met a new teacher who was helping, kind and caring type of person. She helped change his outlook not only for English, but school in general. This story shows how important it is to meet a proper mentor when it comes to learning something. I had similar experience in school when my mindset toward struggling subject turned after meeting a new teacher.

What are the literacy narratives you read saying to you about reading, writing, and learning?

In “Expect The Unexpected” by Michael Tuzzo, he is saying the personality of a teacher affects a lot on student’s mindset toward learning English. In contrast to the teacher in Shamus’s story, teacher in Michael’s story taught his class as if students should be running it with him. With his caring personality he made sure all of the students pass the classes. This led the students learn essential skills in English. Especially for Michael active reading and public speaking skills still sticks to him today.

What questions might you want to put to the writers of the literacy narratives you read? PRO TIP: Think back to Gee.


“He taught his class as if students should be running it with him. We have to start off every class with one of his students starting a discussion question. Or sometimes we’d have to pick out a quote we found interesting in our reading and start a discuss off of that. Because he taught us differently I learned more and it gave me the opportunity to stick with me for the rest of my life” This is the part of explaining active engagement as a learner. In Michael’s narrative, he talked a lot about Mr.Kwon. It seemed that he is keeping a lot on Kwon. I wanted to know what the readers should take from this part besides emphasizing the importance of a good teacher.