Several suggestions for using the writing found in the book Beginnings follow. We hope that these ideas will encourage you to do more than simply read the forceful pieces of writing contained in the book.
Ohio Literacy Resource Center
· As you read each piece, make notes about what makes the writing powerful. If you are working in a group, share your ideas with each other. Draw some group conclusions about the things writers can do to add strength and power to their drafts.
· Especially with longer pieces, make similar notes about the most effective parts of the writing. Again, share these ideas with others, and draw some conclusions about the qualities of effective writing.
· As you read each piece, decide who the intended reader or listener is. Share your ideas in a small group. Can you make any generalizations about writing with an audience in mind?
· Use Bleich's heuristic as a way to respond to a particular piece of writing. To do this, think and make written notes about these three questions:
1. How did this piece affect me?
2. What did the author do to prompt this reaction? What in my own background prompted the reaction?
3. What do I think is the most important word (or for longer pieces, sentence or paragraph) in this piece? Why do I think so?
If you are working in a group with others who have also read the particular piece, share your ideas.
Note to teachers: For longer pieces such as short stories (pp. 16-19 and 48-50), try using a Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA) to help students get practice in predicting, confirming, and looking carefully at texts.
Several of the pieces in this book are character sketches (see pages 3, 9, 11, and 12). Read these as a set. Then analyze them. What do they have in common? How do they differ? What are the qualities of an effective character sketch? You might want to organize your thoughts using a Venn diagram.
At least two of the pieces in this book are retellings of true events (see pages 55 and 68-69). Read both of these pieces, and then analyze them. What do they have in common? How do they differ? What are the qualities of an effective retelling of a true event? How does a written version differ from retelling in person?
"Copy change" is a writing activity that involves using another author's framework for your own writing. To do a copy change, you use the other author's general format, but you insert your own ideas. The name poem (p. 2) or the "A friend is..." poem (p. 5) can be used for copy change writing.
As you read these pieces, think about which ones are personally meaningful to you. Write notes about these reactions in your journal. You might ask yourself questions like, Why do I identify with this writing? What parts of the writing bring to mind my own experiences? If you are part of a group, you may want to share your ideas with others.
If you are interested in reading Beginnings on the OLRC website, just follow these brief directions.
1. Type in the website's address: http://literacy.kent.edu
2. Once you are at the website, under the heading OLRC Table of Contents, click on OLRC Publications
3. Once this page appears, you will see a list of possible general topics of publications to go to. The first one is the Beginnings site - click on it and get ready to read and enjoy some of the best writing by some of Ohio's adult literacy students.