Reading together

Perusall logoWe’ll use Perusall to annotate and read together. Link here to Perusall.

Instructions for joining on the Week 1: Getting Situated page.

Researching together

Our course is organized around a series of two week “Make Cycle” routines. We’ll gather our own literacy data, do some analysis, read, write, and make artifacts together. Our tasks can be found under the Make Cycles menu above.



The intention of these assignments is to invite you to participate in the practices of a literacy researcher. Many of these assignments will allow you to collect and analyze your own data; other assignments will give us a chance to read and discuss current ideas in the field of literacy studies. I look forward to working together.

Our course is organized by two week “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. We’ll spend two weeks in each make cycle focused on an aspect of literacy studies. Each of these make cycles follow routines for our work together: discovering, reading, writing, and making. 

Discovering: these tasks will typically invite you to collect some data (like tracing your literacies for a couple of days). You can use this data for our larger projects and literacy research. The data you collect will also give you specific examples to consider as you’re doing the reading.

Reading: we’ll use the platform Perusall to annotate readings together. We’ll be able to see the kinds of questions we have about the readings, what insights we might add, and places that interest us in the readings. The readings can help us make sense of data. 

Writing: we’ll often write together during class time. You’ll also embark on your own study of literacy.

decorativeMaking: we’ll use the “makes” as a way to play with the ideas we’re discovering in our data collection and our reading and informal writing. You have complete control over what you make. I’ll give suggestions in case you’re stuck, but you decide what “artifact” you want to make that amplifies what you’re learning about literacy. Take some risks here: sometimes the “make” won’t turn out the way you planned. We’ll write short reflections of these “makes” so you have a chance to explain what worked and what didn’t quite turn out like the picture in your head. You make a thing: I’ll give you points. Hope this is an invitation to play with ideas, platforms, digital tools, ways of representing what you’re learning.

Make Cycles
Due: various due dates. New Make Cycle released every two weeks

Make Cycles: At a Glance

I’ll release the full descriptions for assignments and activities every two weeks. You can find the full descriptions linked here once they’re released, linked on the Make Cycle page, and in a drop down menu under the Make Cycle page. Trying to create lots of ways to find the information. ;-)

  • Getting Situated: Pre- Make Cycle (week 1)
    • Join Perusall. Instructions on Week 1 page.
    • Bookmark our course website so you can find it this semester.
    • By Wednesday, Aug 25: Read & Annotate Lunsford’s “Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast” (in Perusall)
  • Make Cycle 1: Our Literate Selves (weeks 2 & 3)
    • Monday, Aug 30 Discover: trace your literacies (bring notes to class)
    • Wednesday, Sept 1 (before class): Read & Annotate: David Kirkland’s “The Skin We Ink: Tattoos, Literacy, and a New English Education” (in Perusall). We’ll also prep for our first Make that is due Sept 8.
    • Monday, Sept 6: Labor Day holiday. No class.
    • Wednesday, Sept 8: Make: Create an artifact that represents an idea from this make cycle. Bring to class.
  • Make Cycle 2: Our Quantified Selves (weeks 4 & 5)
    • Monday, Sept 13: Discover: trace your quantified self (bring notes to class)
    • Wednesday, Sept 15: Read and annotate in Perusall Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris’ “A Guide for Resisting EdTech: The Case Against TurnitIn” AND
    • Choose one of these:
      • Audrey Watters’ “Building Anti-Surveillance EdTech” OR
      • Shea Swauger’s  “Our Bodies Encoded: Algorithmic Test Proctoring in Higher Education
    • Monday, Sept 20: what do we notice from tracing your quantified self?
    • Wednesday, Sept 22: Make: Create an artifact that represents an idea from this make cycle. Bring to class.
  • Make Cycle 3: Our Literacy Sponsors (weeks 6 & 7)
    • Monday, Sept 27: Discover: literacy interviews (bring notes to class)
    • Wednesday, Sept 29: Read: Deborah Brandt’s “Sponsors of Literacy” (annotate in Perusall)
    • Monday, Oct 4: we’ll compare interviews and think about what we learn from our shared data. We’ll start our Makes together in class.
    • Wednesday, Oct 6: Make: Create an artifact that represents an idea from this make cycle; working in class together. We’ll also watch April Baker-Bell’s book trailer for Linguistic Justice
  • Make Cycle 4: Our Languages & Literacies as Multilingual (weeks 8 & 9)
    • Monday, Oct 11: Read: April Baker-Bell chapter “Black Language is Good on Any MLK Boulevard” and read Anthony Miranda’s “Toward What Aim? Reflections on Respectability and ‘Language of Power’” This blog is from a 7th grade teacher as he reflects on Baker-Bell’s ideas and the implications for his language arts teaching. (both in Perusall)
    • Wednesday, Oct 13: Read: Gloria Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” (in Perusall)  
    • Monday, Oct 18 : we will look at the recent policy statement–Position Statement on Indigenous Peoples and People of Color (IPOC) in English and Language Arts Materials–from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
    • Wednesday, Oct 20: Article group choices. Please be in class so you have an understanding of this project. ;-)
  • Make Cycle 5: Article Groups (gaming literacies, make/hack/play literacies, social justice, digital ethics) (weeks 10 & 11+)
    • Monday, Oct 25: Discover: curate resources in teams
    • Wednesday, Oct 27: Read: student examples of literacy research (annotate in Perusall). Class not meeting in person today. Time to read.
    • Monday, Nov 1: Plans for research and working with article teams.
    • Wednesday, Nov 3, 8 & 10: Make: Article groups will share what they’ve learned with our class in a workshop.
  • Make Cycle 6: Our Literacy Research (Choose Your Own Adventure) (weeks 12-14).
    • This make cycle will culminate in the Mini Ethnography assignment.
    • Draft due Monday, Nov 15. Peer Response in class.
  • Make Cycle 7: Survey and Reflection (week 15 & final’s week).
    • Support for reflection projects
    • Due Wednesday, Dec 15

Mini Ethnography
Google Doc shared with
Due: various due dates for notes/data collection. Draft due Nov 15; Revision due TBA
75 pts

gif of someone writing

Choose a group whose literacy practices you want to learn more about. The group can be a group that meets face-to-face or it can be an online group. Describe and analyze how reading and writing operates within the group. Use our readings and our discussions to guide your use of terms and concepts.

Begin by closely observing your group for a week. Take copious field notes. Do interviews (online or in person with a mask and social distancing in place) if appropriate and record and/or transcribe them. You often don’t know what’s an important detail until later. Then read and reread your notes, noticing what seems most important or interesting. Focus in on making a claim about your group, a claim that might consider (but not be limited by) the following questions:

  • What “work” does literacy do in the group?
  • How is literacy learning sponsored?
  • What genres are used? Why? To what extent is new media a component of the work? 
  • What does “literacy” in this group look like? What is its purpose?
  • What is the role of literacy for newcomers? How does literacy facilitate or inhibit membership in the group? What role does literacy play in leadership? How does literacy support a structure of the group? To what degree is the group’s organization hierarchical or egalitarian (or in between)? How does literacy create, support, or maintain that organization?

 Your mini-ethnography should be 4-6 pages long (some may grow longer and that’s fine) and include generous literacy examples from the group you are studying. The best ethnographies will use our readings to support their analysis.

Resources for data collection:

Interview Protocol

Data Matrix (helps to match research questions to data collection)

Examples from fall 2019:

Morgan’s Dungeons and Dragons and Identity, Oh My!”

Miguel’s Discovering Through Play: Minecraft’s Interactive Game Design & Multimodal Literacies”

Orion’s “Literacies of Autism’s sub/Reddit Community”

Bella’s “Rave Ethnography”


Due: final exam time
20 pts

Option 1: Reflective Essay

Think of this reflection as a kind of manifesto, answering “this is what I believe about literacy learning and teaching…at this moment.” I invite you to write about your work in the course: what have you done well, what have you learned, how have your ideas related to literacy changed throughout this course? If you are a future teacher, what can you use in your future classroom and what kinds of questions do you still have about literacy? Support your ideas by using what you have learned from the course readings, discussions, and assignments.

Option 2: Ignite Talk

You can work individually or in pairs or trios to bring the ideas we’ve considered in class to life in an Ignite Talk. An Ignite talk is 5 minutes with 20 slides that auto advance every 15 seconds. You can record your talk and share the video with slides. I can walk you through some options for putting slides in your video. No reflection required for this one; just give your talk.

Here are some examples from the Ignite Site.

More examples: Rafi Santos Ignite TalkKim JaxonPeter Kittle and Jane McGonigal

Option 3: Multimodal Reflection

For this option, you control the product, process, materials, and distribution. You’ll include a short reflection about what your purpose is, goals, and what worked and what didn’t. Overall: your product should reflect what you’ve learned about literacy. (*For example, here is the website one trio created and the reflection portion HERE) (And another HERE)