Considering Literacy

Linda Adler-Kassner  
Total pages
November 2005
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Considering Literacy
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This composition reader helps students understand the connection between education and literacy by encouraging them to write about their experiences in college.

Considering Literacy offers instructors a flexible, yet structured set of unique writing assignments that will help students develop writing strategies. Each assignment contains a list of readings included in the book to be used in conjunction with the writing assignment. The result is that students have a greater understanding of the connection between education and literacy.


  • Readings provide a variety of approaches to literacy and encourage students to think creatively and innovatively about how they and others define “education” and “literacy.” Included are narratives, analytical pieces, and essays.
  • “Writing Assignments” provide a flexible structure for students to think through questions related to education and literacy. Assignments help students practice writing strategies and make connections between familiar and new writing strategies.
  • Each assignment includes a list of readings in the book to be used in conjunction with that assignment, helping students to think creatively about how to make connections between reading and writing.
  • Four levels of assignments are offered, and within each level there are many assignments to choose from.
  • Each assignment includes two “Developing Work” prompts that encourage focused brainstorming, helping students to write essays that are more substantive, thorough, and engaging.
  • Extensive pedagogy frames each reading:
    • An Introduction discusses issues related to reading interpretation.

    • “Pre-Reading Questions” ask students to reflect on why they are reading that particular section.

    • “Post-Reading Questions” ask students to reflect on the central theme of the reading.

    • “Critical Reflections” help students identify the dominant readings of each selection and consider its implications.

    • “Making Connection Questions” facilitates student reading across selections in the text.

Table of Contents

Introduction for Instructors


About This Book: Approaches and Assignments


“Reading: Words and Images”

“Getting” reading

Reading questions

Strategic reading

Reading images


“Learning from Self” Assignments

            Expectations and Experiences

            Influencing Your Literacy Development

            The Purposes of Schooling

            Why Are You Here?

            “Your” Campus

            Your Literacy History and Its Significance

            Your Literacy Development

“Learning from Others” Assignments

            What's the Purpose of Education and Literacy

            Literacy Practices and Schooling

            Testing Definitions: Dominant and Vernacular Literacies

            What Counts as “Learning” and for Whom?

            How Is Literacy/Education Defined by You and by Others?

            Community Literacies

“Learning Through Research” Assignments

            Debating the Purpose of School

            Representing the College Experience

            Designing Assessments

            What Counts, for What, and Who Says?

            Analyzing Literacy Experiences

            Positive Learning Experiences

            What's Taught and Why

            What Counts, for What, and Who Says?

            Observing Literacy Practices

“Speaking Out, Joining In, Talk Back” Assignment

Readings About Uses of Learning:

David Barton and Mary Hamilton. “Literacy Practices” 

bell hooks. “Engaged Pedagogy”

Paolo Freire. “The Banking Concept of Education”

Theodore Sizer. “What High School Is”

Readings About Learners:

David Barton and Mary Hamilton. “How They've Fared in Education: Harry's Literacy Practices”

Lorene Cary. From Black Ice.

Mark Edmundson. “On the Uses of a Liberal Education I: As lite entertainment for bored college students.”

Andrea Fishman. “Becoming Literate: A Lesson from the Amish”

June Jordan. “Don't Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the Future Life of Willie Jordan.” 

Robert Louthan. “Heavy Machinery”

Mike Rose. “I Just Wanna Be Average”

Michael Ryan, “The Ditch”
Earl Shorris. “On the Uses of a Liberal Education II: As a weapon in the hands of the restless poor.”

Ron Suskind. “Fierce Intimacies”

Readings About Learning (in and out of school):

W.E.B. DuBois “On Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others”

Kate Daniels. “Self-Portrait with Politics.”

Frederick Douglass. From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Darcy Frey. “The Last Shot.” 

Stanley Kaplan. “My 54-Year Love Affair with the SAT”

Nicholas Lemann. “The President's Big Test.”

Teresa McCarty. “Classroom and Community”

Michael Moffatt. “What College Is REALLY Like”

Executive Summary of the “No Child Left Behind” Act.

“Wendy Darling”. “What 'No Child Left Behind' Left Behind.”

Gary Orfield and Johanna Wald. “Testing, Testing”

Peter Sacks. “Do No Harm: Stopping the Damage to American Schools”

James Traub. “The Test Mess”

Booker T. Washington “The Atlanta Exposition Address”


(list of photos to be added to Contents)



Instructor Resources