Posts Tagged ‘literacy’

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Summer Reading—and Writing!

posted: 7.2.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Now that my grandnieces Audrey (11) and Lila (7) are out of school for the summer, they are engaged in all manner of activities: Camp (the sleepover kind!), hip hop and tap, volleyball, and, of course, reading. Their school has a voluntary summer reading program, and for the last few years, Audrey has been one of the top readers, gaining mysterious points for every book read. This year, Lila will be joining her, and she’s reading up a storm too. As near as I can tell, their public school offers suggestions, but pretty much lets them read whatever they want. They both love the Dork Diaries books, and Audrey is deeply into The Babysitter volumes while Lila any books about animals. [read more]

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Communicating to Non-Literate Audiences with Comics

posted: 2.2.15 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

In the United States comics generally appeal to those who already know how to read and write, but in other contexts sequences of images with relatable characters and stories convey important information to the illiterate about how to avoid danger or pursue opportunities.

For example, Mudita Tiwari and Deepti KC of India’s Institute for Financial Management and Research are distributing comic books about financial literacy in the slum of Dharavi in Mumbai to discourage women from relying on vulnerable hiding places in their homes to squirrel away cash. [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Audience, Elizabeth Losh, Genre, Purpose, Rhetorical Situation, Visual Argument, Visual Rhetoric
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Can Writing Be Taught?

posted: 9.11.14 by Andrea Lunsford

I’d be hard put to count up the number of times I’ve been asked this question, by parents who don’t want their children to have to take a “required” writing course, by administrators who don’t want to pay for writing programs, by colleagues in literature who often assume that writing arrives courtesy of the muse, and by students who think that they have learned all they could possibly need to know about writing in high school. [read more]

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Technology and Destiny

posted: 9.9.13 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

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My Principles

posted: 1.6.11 by Andrea Lunsford

I taught my first class in graduate school, as many of you probably did too:  I was getting a Master’s in English and was assigned to teach a section of first-year English.  I can remember very little about it except that I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing: it was a harrowing experience, to say the very least.  After finishing the MA, I taught in middle and high school—mostly grades 10, 11, and 12—and that’s where I began to grow more and more devoted to students and to learn more and more about what I did and did not know.  So after several years, I applied to a PhD program and was lucky enough to be admitted (though I was on the wait list for a long time).  I studied a lot of literature but I also was fortunate enough to take many classes in the history and  theory of rhetoric and in composition theory.  Along the way, I began to establish the principles that have guided my research and teaching ever since:

  • Writing may seem solitary but it seldom (or never) really is:  writers are always in conversation with others, if only in their heads.  So writing is social and deeply collaborative; it should bring people together.
  • Rhetorical theory and history provide a strong and enduring basis for writing studies:  the ancient rhetors figured out some very important points:  audience and purpose are key to everything in writing; context is all-important—writing needs to fit the situation perfectly; writing is essentially about making choices.
  • All writers have strengths and weaknesses: it is our job to help identify them and guide students in achieving their own purposes.  It is also our job to attend to student writing with the deepest care and seriousness.  As philosopher Maxine Greene reminds us, when we enter every class we should know that there is at least one student in there who is “infinitely our superior in both heart and mind.”  I’ve had this proven true so many times that I’ve stopped counting!
  • Rhetoric and writing are plastic arts, stretching themselves to meet the demands of every new age.  This principle has never been more important than it is right now, when we are in the midst of a huge revolution in literacy.

I’d love to hear from others about other principles we could add to this list.  So please join in this conversation!

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Categories: Teaching Advice
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