Snapshots of our Literacies

Publication Date


Document Type

Book Chapter


In “Snapshots of Our Literacies,” Michelle Cox and Katherine E. Tirabassi present a creative non-fiction writing project based on personal narratives that has been used successfully in the first five weeks of university writing courses in a variety of pedagogical settings, including English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. The students craft “snapshot essays” as brief descriptive narratives responding to writing prompts that are focused on writing, reading, discourse communities, and literacy. Through the process of drafting and feedback from peers and instructors, students build up their essay with the support of detailed instructions. This workshop based project, which was developed as a way to counteract students’ resistance to revision, also serves to move students away from the five-paragraph essay still mandated in many high schools in the United States, and (in the case of ESL classes) to go beyond the sentence-level focus of much second-language writing instruction. The students are thus socialized into the discourse of university level writing while drawing on their own varied literacies to assist in the transition.

Original Citation

Cox, M. & Tirabassi, K.E. (2011). Snapshots of our Literacies. In M.C. Pennington & P. Burton (Eds.), The College Writing Toolkit: Tried and Tested Ideas for Teaching College Writing (pp. 41-61). Sheffield, United Kingdom: Equinox Publishing.

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