Reflections on Literacy


One of my students’ favorite projects is the Shoebox Literacy Autobiography Project.  They collect at least five artifacts related to their personal literacy story and describe the artifacts via a short oral presentation in a small group setting.  They follow up with a short written reflection on what they learned and how they felt.  For children’s lit, students include at least one children’s book.  For CRE101, they include at least one book.

I model the process by sharing my own story of literacy and explain how literacy in our family has been passed down through modeling from the older siblings to the younger ones.  This photo is of my father’s family.  He’s the one in the short pants.  The older ones helped the younger ones be successful and go to college.  It was a group effort to help the members of this farm family rise out of poverty and achieve success.

Collins family

By sharing a bit about ourselves early in the semester (usually by week 4 or 5), students tell me they feel closer to their classmates and have a deeper understanding of  literacy in their day-to-day lives.  Here are a few comments that came in this week:

By then end of my presentation I realized that reading has been a big thing in my family. My mom’s parents encouraged her to read, not just for fun but for her own good.
Something that I learned from this experience was that we are all different in many ways but at the same time we shared some of the same sentimental items. One thing was that we all shared a picture of a love one and how they impacted our lives as literate human beings.
The interesting thing in this book is that it is written in two languages, English and Spanish. They learned a few words in Spanish. I still remember their happy faces when reading.
Even though not everyone is a big reader we’re all connected with literature one way or another.
I have always known that I am privileged to be able to say I am as educated and literate as I am, but telling other people about the process of how I got to this point of literacy in my life made me realize a few things about myself.

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