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.

Writing together

We will our work in a Currents Community to share and respond to ideas.

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

Make Cycle 3

Make Cycle 3

Weeks 6 & 7: Sept 28-Oct 11

photo of two people in masksMake Cycle 3: Our Literacy Sponsors 

Thank you for all the interesting work you did with the quantitative self readings: I enjoyed reading your comments in Perusall. I left links on some of the comments if you want to take a look next time you log in to Perusall to do the next reading.

PLEASE CHECK EMAIL: I sent a Doodle poll to see if we could find a couple of options for checking in on Zoom together next week. In our previous survey, many of you said you’d like a chance to see each other as a class. This will be informal, a way to connect, and a way to ask me questions about the class. I can offer 2-3 options for meeting times. Link to the poll here too. It would be helpful if y’all could fill this out by Monday (Sept 28). THANK YOU! It would be awesome to see each other at least on the screen. ;-) 

We’ve spent the last few weeks tracing your literacies and now we’ll pull in some data from others. For the discover portion of our work this Make Cycle, you’ll interview someone else about their literacies. This is our growing data set for our larger projects.

Tasks in a Nutshell (longer descriptions below)

  • By Friday, Oct 2: Discover: Literacy Interviews (share portions of transcript)
  • By Sunday, Oct 4: Read: Deborah Brandt’s “Sponsors of Literacy” (in Perusall)
  • By Friday, Oct 9: Write: Summary of Brandt and a literacy interview write up.
  • By Sunday, Oct 11: Make: create an artifact that represents the ideas in this make cycle about literacy sponsors. Suggestions below, but totally up to you.

By Friday, Oct 2


Literacy Interviews

Our goal with this discovery is to gather literacy narratives from our family and/or friends and then use these stories to compare to the reading we are doing together. Below are some guiding questions you can use, but think of this work more as a conversation with someone about their memories and ideas related to reading and writing.

Start by asking a family member or friend if you can talk to them about their memories of reading and writing. The best interviews are with someone who is older. If you have a grandparent you can talk to or a parent, an aunt, then that is super cool. (As a class, we should try to avoid having only interviews with roommates; it would be better to have a broad data set.)

For the interview, they could either answer questions over email, you could record a Skype or Zoom conversation (this will be seen only by you, not shared with our class: you’ll use the video for your written memo), or take notes while you talk to them face to face (social distance and mask to mask) or on the phone. You might want to try out a great app called, which captures a transcript of conversation. Try to capture as much as you can exactly what they say.

You do not need to ask all the questions below. Choose a couple questions that seem relevant for the person and then hopefully the questions will kick off a conversation about literacy.

Potential Interview Questions—

  1. Try to think of your earliest memories of writing and reading.  What do you remember of reading and writing before you began school?  Who helped you with it and what was that like?
  2. What kinds of writing did you see your parents, siblings, and other family members doing as you were growing up?  What did they read, where, and when?
  3. What stories did your parents tell you about their own efforts to learn to read and write?  What kinds of values did they place on reading and writing?
  4. How did reading and writing change as you entered elementary school?  What did you do with it?
  5. What are you asked to do with reading and writing at this point in your lives?
  6. When you were growing up, how much school reading and school writing was done with computers?  What kinds of things did you do?  What values did your teachers place on computer literacy?
  7. In the next ten years, what will reading and writing become?  What skills and understandings about online literacy will people need to have?  What about emojis and gifs and screen time? Why do you think this?

Once you complete your interview, share some highlights, portions from your transcript, in our Currents Community by Friday, Oct 2. Share a couple of excerpts that you think are interesting or insightful. Say why you chose that portion to share. 

By Sunday, Oct 4:


  • Deborah Brandt’s “Sponsors of Literacy” (in Perusall). As you’re reading this article, you might think about: 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? What have you learned from tracing your literacies and how does this compare to the people Brandt will introduce you to in her article? You can see a short clip of Dr. Brandt talking about literacy below that you might find interesting. 

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.

By Friday, Oct 9: 


  • Summary of Brandt’s article AND
  • Literacy interview write-up: share with us some insights from your literacy narrative. Include the responses, but also reflect on what we learn about literacy from this interview. What if this interview was the only data we had that helped us to understand how people think about reading and writing: what might we learn about its importance or the role literacy plays in people’s lives?  You could think of Deborah Brandt’s article as an example: notice how she describes the people in her study and their experiences with literacy (Raymond, Dora, etc). She is writing up her interviews in the same way you will, sharing what we learn from this data collection. These two student examples from previous semesters may be helpful models too:

By Sunday, Oct 11


  • A collage, some kind of art, that visualizes your literacy sponsors (pop culture, people, spaces, hobbies/interests)
  • Analysis: look over the literacy interview transcripts and share with us what you notice: any trends across the data? Any claims that we could make about how people use literacy, what they think literacy is or what counts as literacy? Write this up and share it with us.
  • A short film: interview with a grandparent, for example (with their permission) or perhaps a sponsors’ Mashup or Remix (if you’ve never seen it, check out Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix): what if you took all of your pop culture “sponsors” and created a remix: how is your identity sponsored through pop culture? 
  • Poem or original song
  • A literacy sponsors playlist: what do your sponsors sound like?
  • A pinterest board of your literacy sponsors? 
  • A flipgrid: ask friends or family to contribute a short video answering one of the literacy interview questions (again, that whole permission thing so you can share with our class).