Reading & Discussion Prompts


Dec 5 class plan

Multimodal Project Teams

Sophia, Jennifer, Jasmine/Julie

Cecilia, Sylvia, Lydia

Sabrina, Morgan, Richard 

Cristina, Kasey, Sarah

Ben, Cole, Vonna, Olivia/Ruben

Reflective Essay Teams

Alec, Kobi, Gil, Andrew

Merri, Emily, Sam C

Sam F, Hannah, Adrianna, Lee


1) Take a claim from literacy studies (perhaps return to the claims you made last week). Then, think through how you would represent the claim in a project or support the claim in a paper. Share out ideas. This may help people who are not sure what to do.


2) Writing prompt

Think about the claims you want to make about literacy and what you’ve learned about literacy studies (perhaps make your own list). Then, think about your idea for your final project in relation to those claims? How will you represent the ideas? How is your choice of mode reflective of those claims? If you’ve started your paper/project, look over how are you addressing these claims? How will you include the readings/authors?

(If you’re really on your way with your paper/project (done or close to complete), what are next steps or what ideas do you have for revision? What concerns might you have?)


3) Share your ideas. Get feedback from peers. Take turns at explaining your ideas for your project/paper and getting feedback. 


4) Share a few of the ideas with the class.


5) Brainstorm some criteria/elements of the project/paper. If you had a checklist next to you for assessment, what would be on the checklist?

Resources for our book club work:


Slideshare or Google Slides

Ignite talk


DML videos and talks



I’ll post prompts to help guide our reading and discussions here. They will often guide our class conversation or I’ll ask you to write about these ideas in class. Hopefully, they’ll be helpful as you read. You will also be responsible for choosing passages for us to consider from the readings and posing questions in a shared doc in teams. Links here:

Team 1: Sabrina, Lydia, Jasmine, Sam C., Richard

Team 2: Andrew, Julie, Merri, Tiana, Sylvia

Team 3: Cristina, Oliva, Gil, Morgan, Hannah

Team 4: Vonna, Ben, Sarah, Emily, Alec

Team 5: Cecilia, Sydney, Casey, Sophia, Samantha F

Team 6: Lee, Jennifer, Adrianna, Cole, Kobi

Aug 22

What are all the literate activities that make up getting to the class today? Make a list. How did you learn to do the things in your list?

Compare lists in groups. Create a chart with some categories. We’ll share out and talk about our decision rules for creating the categories.

Then, as of today, how would you define literacy? Write this out too.

What do you make of this Lunsford piece? What’s your literate life like? What do you read? What do you write? Why? What purpose do your literate activities serve?

Read Szwed & UNESCO for next week

Aug 29

In groups: How does Szwed understand literacy practices (what does he mean by the social meaning of literacy) (422-423)? How does he say others define literacy? Why is this narrow definition a problem according to Szwed?

“…the roles these abilities play in life”

Point us to a passage to consider as a class: What does it say, what does it mean, why does this matter?

Sept 5

What activities are carried out with written symbols? What significance do we attach to them and what status is conferred on those who engage in them?  (modified from Sylvia Scribner)


LaTeX example

“When Does Spaghetti Become a Light Ray?”

Writing Prompt:

Reflect on a time you were a member of a group. Did the group work well together? What allowed that to happen? Did the group work poorly…what got in the way? Focus specifically on the conditions that supported or prevented full participation. Doesn’t have to be school group.

In Your Groups

Share ideas from the above prompt with your group.

Then: As a group, create group norms that you can all agree to and live with for the semester. These norms should cover both interpersonal norms (ex. No side talk, confidentiality, monitor airtime, constructive controversy, etc) and procedural norms (checking course website, posting on time, getting materials to each other, etc.)

Ideas to think about: What are your expectations about coming to class prepared?

Williams’ reading

Consider: In the Williams article on the way we construct readers, he writes:

“If literacy is not an autonomous set of skills but rather a concept whose definition is fluid and always determined by its cultural context, what does it mean to identify our students (or ourselves) as readers? What characteristics do we as teachers assume someone possesses when he or she is (or is not) a reader? And how does that affect what we expect from students when we assign them a text to read?”

In table group: try to make sense of this idea above. Also, make sure you understand Williams’ ideas about cultural capital. Pick a passage from Williams for us to consider.

Share out. Ideas about readers, cultural capital, other ideas in Williams

Sept 12

What did you learn from your literacy narratives?


Sponsors, as I have come to think of them, are any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold literacy-and gain advantage by it in some way. Just as the ages of radio and television accustom us to having programs brought to us by various commercial sponsors, it is useful to think about who or what underwrites occasions of literacy learning and use. Although the interests of the sponsor and the sponsored do not have to converge (and, in fact, may conflict) sponsors nevertheless set the terms for access to literacy and wield powerful incentives for compliance and loyalty. Sponsors are a tangible reminder that literacy learning throughout history has always required permission, sanction, assistance, coercion, or, at minimum, contact with existing trade routes. Sponsors are delivery systems for the economies of literacy, the means by which these forces present themselves to-and through-individual learners. They also represent the causes into which people’s literacy usually gets recruited.

QW:  Who “sponsors” your literacy practices? Both in productive and restrictive ways? What are you asked to do with reading and writing at this point in your lives? Start to list out sponsors and their purposes/effects.

Share QW with group, then work with section more closely:

  • Sponsorship/Teaching and the Dynamics… (167-169 & 183-last paragraph)
  • Sponsorship and Access (169-173)
  • Sponsorship and the Rise in Literacy Standards (173-178)
  • Sponsorship and Appropriation In Literacy Learning (178-183)

As a group, summarize your section and talk about why it matters to us (prepare to share out with whole class). As part of your discussion: What do the case studies illuminate in your section? What claims is she able to make using the cases as examples?

In a nutshell: summary of your section (major claims), how the case studies function in your section (how do the cases connect to her claims), and why these ideas matter to us?

Sept 19

Unpack Brandt’s “piling up” and “spreading out” (652). We’ll write out on board.

Key ideas:

Piling up (vertically)—rising levels of formal schooling. Layers of earlier forms exist (ex: texting vs note passing). Both resource and barrier. Can you think of examples? What do we have “remnants” of? ecards…holiday cards. facebook bday

And spreading out (horizontally) reorganizing activities (economic, political, domestic). Helping family members get iTunes account. Text.

Re-Read p. 665  “What we have paid less attention to…” read from here to end.

We’ll watch a couple videos. Then think through some ideas:

  • play with the idea of producers and consumers (uploaders vs downloaders). The desire to control production and distribution. Perhaps make some categories: where are the artifacts of literacies past, present, and future. What does this mean for schooling?

  • Juxtapose some ideas from videos with Brandt. Look at how her call plays out almost 20 years later: Lessig, Wesch Web 2.0, and New Learners of the 21st C

Sept 26

Baron. Take aways from this reading. And, we will update his text by trying our hand at writing a paragraph about a new literacy.

Watch McWhorter

One side of the room summarize arguments of McWhorter, the other side Strommel.

Discuss: what value do we place on these micro-literacies (texting and twitter)? What values do these authors see in these practices? What do we think about their ideas?


literacy as doing, as a social practice (Barton)

literacy as accomplishing things with reading and writing (Brandt)

Girls use literacy to present a particular kind of self. Literate practices served to mark social boundaries (Finders)

Literacy as the ability to read and write situates literacy in the individual person, rather than in society. The practices of social groups are never just literacy practices; they also involve ways of talking, interacting, thinking, valuing, and believing. Can not pull apart literacy practices from non-literacy practices. (Gee)

Learning to write means learning to write in the ways (genres) those in an activity system write (Russell)

Literacy as a set of socially organized practices, which make use of a symbol system and a technology for producing and disseminating it. Literacy is not simply knowing how to read and write a particular script but applying this knowledge for specific purposes in specific contexts of use. A piece of writing, whatever its form, serves as a flag to signal activities in the ongoing stream of behavior that may have some component skills in common (258). (Scribner and Cole)

Literacy as a shorthand for the social practices and conceptions of reading and writing. ideological model of literacy: concentrate on the specific social practices of reading and writing. significance of socialization process in the construction of meaning of literacy for participants (Street)

conceptions of practice

Scribner and Cole: By practice, we mean a recurrent, goal-directed sequence of activities using a particular technology and particular systems of knowledge. A practice consists of: technology, knowledge, and skills (236). Practice always refers to socially developed and patterned ways of using technology and knowledge to accomplish tasks.

Wenger: Practice is always social practice. Practice: Doing in a historical and social context that give structure and meaning to what we do. as soon as members have access to the practice, they find out what counts




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