Use these prompts to help you explore what you know about your past experiences, attitudes, behaviors relevant to "literacy." You may remember or you may decide that you want to ask someone who might remember.

These prompts will be most effective if you use them over the period of several weeks, perhaps the entire semester. In other words, don't expect that you will respond to the prompts one time and be done. Over the years of using these prompts, I've learned that you will continue to recall events in your past that are related to your development as a literate person and future teacher. So this assignment is meant to help you recall as much of that past as possible so you can continue to reflect on the effects of your past experiences on your future as a teacher.

Do not think that you have to respond to each of these prompts or to all of them at once. They are meant as discovery aids, as a way to promote invention of materials for your Literacy Autobiography (LA). If / when you begin considering the early drafts of your LA, you will begin choosing from the wide range of experiences and memories you have discovered through these prompts.

These prompts are NOT meant as an organizing tool for your LA. Instead, they are designed to focus you on recovering information, discovering what you know or want to know. Your LA will most likely take a very different shape, and it may use only a small portion of what you have discovered.

Reflecting on your perspectives on Language:

  1. How do you define "language"?
  2. What do you remember about how you learned "language"?
  3. What were your first words, sentences, interchanges? How did school contribute to your early language development?
  4. What are the most important differences between your use of language when you speak and when you write?
  5. How do you use language differently for different situations / purposes?
  6. What is "appropriate" language use? Give some examples?
  7. How can language best be learned? What is the relation between that and the ways you will teach reading and writing?
  8. If you view language learning in a certain way, how does that affect your classroom?

Reflecting on your experience as a Writer:

  1. What are the first things you remember "writing"?
  2. What kinds of things have you written or how have you used writing (outside of school)? How does that compare with your school writing experiences?
  3. What kinds of writing have you done over the years in school? What has been most satisfying? Instructive? Useless? Why?
  4. How has feedback from others helped or hindered your writing?
  5. How much are you influenced by other writers?
  6. Under what conditions do you write best, most happily? What conditions are most frustrating?
  7. What process do you usually use to produce writing? How does the process change for different kinds of writing?
  8. What relationships do you see between the writing you do and the reading you do?
  9. What metaphor best describes your writing process?
  10. How does writing compare to other kinds of communication (including performing arts of all sorts)?
  11. Why do you think it is important for students to learn to write?

Reflecting on your experience as a Reader:

  1. What are your earliest memories of reading? Being read to?
  2. What do you remember about the process of your learning to read?
  3. What were the earliest things you remember reading on your own? What were the differences between your early personal reading and your early school reading?
  4. How many different "ways of reading" do you use? How do you read different things in different ways?
  5. How do you gain insight into a book or a reading? How do you make sense of it or how does it "mean" something to you? How does discussion with others help?
  6. What kinds of connections do you see between reading books and seeing movies or watching TV? How are the narratives / stories different (or not)?
  7. Why is it important for students to learn to read? What should they read? Who should choose? Why?

Other forms of literacy (visual/aural/oral): how have these been developed and learned, both inside and outside of school?

What kind of a learner are you? What kinds of activities "work" for you, and what kinds frustrate you?


  1. How do your past experiences with language, reading, and writing relate to your present views on learning, literacy, and education? How well does what you are learning as a prospective teacher fit what you "know" as someone who has learned to speak, read, and write?
  2. As you think about your past experiences with language, reading, writing, how will your past affect what you do as a teacher? Be specific.

Document created by: Dr. Blalock, November, 2000, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

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