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Davis Powell
02/08/2016
UWRT 1103-52
Ashley Marcum
Defining Moments
Our literacy history guides us to become who we are as people. The reason I believe it is
essential to recall our literacy history is to be able to identify how we have changed as people
over time. Our personalities, thoughts, ideas, and writing styles are all impacted by our literacy
history. By searching over my complete literacy history, I will be able to identify what I believe
literacy is and how I have changed over time as a thinker, reader, writer, and above all else, a
person.
My first experiences within literacy were extremely discouraging. From kindergarten to
first grade, very little occurred that affected my literacy besides learning the alphabet, writing my
first words, and expanding my vocabulary. In second grade, I recall writing a story with a partner
in class. Although, it was meant to be a partnered assignment, my classmate persisted to write a
story about a dragon and didnt include me in the writing of the story. This was my first
experience writing a story and it caused me to hold an unfavorable view towards the writing
process. Also, in fourth grade, I had a notably poor experience with my English teacher, Ms.
Hayes. My performance in her class was especially poor and Ms. Hayes began to take notice. In
order to correct my subpar performance, Ms. Hayes would constantly choose me to answer
questions she knew I didnt know the answers to. This method of forcing me to participate only
furthered my dislike of writing, reading, and English class in general. Conferences between Ms.
Hayes and my parents also poorly shaped my mindset on literacy. I continued to struggle in Ms.

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Hayess class because she disciplined me for my lack of attentiveness instead of encouraging me
to learn in more productive and efficient ways. Overall, my unfavorable experiences in
elementary school concerning literacy dreadfully affected my mentality moving into the future of
my education.
During this time, I became interested in the Harry Potter series. Every night, before I
slept I read the Harry Potter books with my mom. After I was done reading one of the books in
the series, I would move onto reading the next one. These books induced me to become engaged
in many other fantasy novels as well, including Peter Pan and Spider-Man. By reading fantasy
texts, I expanded my vocabulary, along with my imagination, and became an improved reader.
This period was the first time I was remotely interested in reading and writing and it was a
positive experience in my literacy history. Although I enjoyed reading in my spare time during
this term of my life, poor experiences in future English classes would change my mindset
concerning literacy.
Throughout high school, the cycle of essay-oriented writing year to year was the primary
substance of the English curriculum. This essay-oriented writing was more evident in tenth grade
as compared to any other year. My teacher that year was Mrs. Lendyak. She seemed to be a
petite lady besides her gargantuan stomach, immensely stretched from her many months of
pregnancy. She was a fairly strict teacher and extremely bitter; because of this she assigned
students a bundle of homework each week. Homework included two essays, vocabulary
worksheets, reading, and studying for quizzes and tests. This homework was coupled with
football practice and the homework, quizzes, and tests from other classes. The day-to-day cycle
of football practice, homework, quizzes, tests, essays, and vocabulary was extremely frustrating.
Through the first month of the school year, I had mediocre grades in effortless classes and an F

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in English. After many feuds with my parents concerning my grades and countless talks with
Mrs. Lendyak, I was fed up and determined to succeed in sophomore year English class. This
determination can be compared to an article titled, Learning to Read, which describes Malcolm
Xs struggles and determination to succeed. In this article, Malcolm X is constantly demoralized
as a child by teachers and other students because of his race, but Malcolm X was still determined
to learn and become an exceptional speaker and lawyer as an adult. Even though some of his
early literacy sponsors discouraged him, Malcolm X still strived to become greater. My struggles
when I was in high school were miniscule in comparison to Malcolm Xs, but we both still had
the same determination to achieve.
Even though I had newfound determination, I still struggled in English. I built my grades
up to par in other classes, but faltered in English class, especially on essays. Each week I spent
multiple nights working tirelessly on English essays, but my grade remained unsatisfactory. In
order to help me in English, my mom hired an English tutor to teach me how to write essays and
improve my writing style. Together, we created essays at a Barnes and Noble bookstore. She
helped me establish a writing style and taught me the principles for writing an essay. Meeting
with her twice a week for a month changed the way I would write essays for the rest of my
education. My tenth grade tutor had the most substantial impact on my literacy history and is my
most crucial literacy sponsor. After our meetings together, my essay grades improved
considerably and my overall English grade increased as well. This event in my life also reminds
me of an article written by Deborah Brandt, titled, Sponsors of Literacy. In this article, Brandt
discusses what it means to be a literacy sponsor. She describes a literacy sponsor as a person,
place, or thing that assists in molding a persons literacy. Therefore, in my mind, my English

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tutor is a prime example of a literacy sponsor because she forged the process in which I write
essays.
The next year of high school, I read absurd amounts of historical text and expanded my
knowledge and reading skills. In class, we read books such as The Great Awakening, The Great
Gatsby, The Water Effect, and many others. Frequently, the books we had to read were
disinteresting, but The Great Gatsby was a novel I absolutely treasured. The Great Gatsby was
the first book I had read in school and enjoyed. It revealed to me that not all assigned readings
are dull and inspired me to search for other books that could give me the same enjoyment. The
day after I finished The Great Gatsby, I went to the library in search of books and found The
Lord of the Rings series. I went home and started reading the first book in the series and I
became captivated. I finished the first book within a week and finished the whole series in a
month. During this time, I expanded my vocabulary, became an improved essay writer, and
learned a great deal about literature.
The same year, I was given an assignment called the junior paper. The junior paper was a
six to eight page paper, supporting or opposing a globally controversial topic. The topic I chose
to support was animal cloning in America. We were given a span of three months to brainstorm,
review our peers papers, and write three drafts of the paper. This process was especially time
consuming, but I developed many skills and learned various lessons because of it. Over the
course of writing the junior paper, I learned how to manage time, draft and review papers, and in
general, become a better writer.
In my senior year of high school, I had Mrs. Brandt as an English teacher. The workload
for this class paled in comparison to the classes of years past. The majority of the semester the
class focused on one novel by William Shakespeare; Hamlet. After completing every section of

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the novel, the class would watch the section we read in class, in the movie; Hamlet. Also, we
would act out each scene we read in class with props, characters, scripts, and costumes. In my
mind, this process seemed excessive, but it helped me better understand the text. Even with
Shakespeares diction, it was simple to understand each passage after reviewing it. This process
induced me to read other Shakespearian works, such as A Midsummer Nights Dream and
Macbeth. These texts aided me in understanding an authors purpose in readings and their
underlying messages, which Shakespeare often applies to his works. Shakespeare frequently
used subjects examined in the article Voice and Vitality. Voice and Vitality is an informative
article, but Shakespeare regularly used figurative language discussed in the article such as
metaphors, similes, metaphors, and understatements in his texts to portray the tone, voice, and
mood. The moods of Shakespeares writings are extremely significant because it creates emotion
in the reader.
Also, during senior year I was assigned a project called the senior exit, which accounted
for twenty percent of my grade. This project was a continuation of the junior year paper, in
which, I discussed the topic of animal cloning. There were many pieces in the senior exit,
including a presentation, a graph, a reflection paper, a peer review paper, brainstorming, and a
citation page. At the end of the semester, I had to dress formally and present a PowerPoint about
animal cloning in front of three teachers. I made an exceptional grade on the project, which was
an enormous relief, but I also learned valuable skills from the senior exit, such as, presentation
skills, time management, drafting, and confidence.
These literacy events have guided me to become who I am as a person. They have taught
me new writing styles and techniques, how to work hard, have determination and many other

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skills and lessons that have changed the course of my life. Also, I will be able to carry these
lessons and ideas into the future of my education and my career.