English I           Writing Assignment #1: Literacy Autobiography*                Descriptive                                   

To begin this unit on descriptive writing, you will be asked to write three different drafts focusing on different subjects. We will focus on various writing skills related to descriptive writing. From the three drafts you complete, you will select one for extensive revision and turn in a three-page final draft following MLA Style for a grade. (100 points) Points will be awarded throughout the writing process as well.


This paper will ask you to explore your reading and writing history, otherwise known as literacy. Perhaps this is a topic to which you have given little thought, but the development of your own reading and writing history most likely is rich resource filled with stories that define who you are and your beliefs and values about literacy.



You will be asked to explore significant factors and events contributing to your literacy development. A good way to begin is to create a timeline for both your reading and writing history. This can be one timeline that contains both aspects of your literacy or two separate timelines. Record significant events, both positive and negative, in your life from your earliest experiences to your most recent. Consider ideas from the following list to help you get started:

  • Favorite/least favorite books
  • Favorite writing activities
  • School experiences in reading and writing versus your own self-directed experiences
  • Attitudes toward reading and writing at different ages
  • Friends or classmates who were better at reading and writing than you were
  • Experiences with foreign languages
  • Significant people or events that influenced your reading and writing
  • Good and bad experiences with English teachers
  • Reading time spent with family or friends
  • Visits to bookstores and libraries
  • Keeping journals or diaries
  • The role of language, both written and spoken, in your immediate family and social group
  • The education and reading and writing abilities for your siblings, parents and grandparents



Once your timeline is complete, look over your findings and determine which experience(s) can be turned into an engaging narrative that will reveal your values and beliefs about literacy in your own life. Focus on using descriptive words and phrases to give the reader good visuals and emotional connections to your story. Use the notes and handouts you have been given in class to help you. You may need to combine several stories to indicate your beliefs or you could focus on one significant event to accomplish this. Your draft should be at least two typed pages. Should you select this assignment for final submission, you will need to revise your work to be at least three pages in length. By putting more work into your draft at this time, you will save significant time and effort later when you need to meet your deadline.


Good luck, and have fun exploring this aspect of your life.





*This assignment is adapted from both Dr. Nancy Zuercher’s presentation developed for the 2004 Dakota Writing Project held at the University of South Dakota and Deborah Brandt’s literacy narrative assignment, developed for her composition and Literacy seminar at the University of Minnesota, Spring 1992.