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Trexler 1 Heather Trexler English 1101 Ms.

Fuentes October 2, 2013 Literacy Memoir The very first vivid memory I have of my literacy history occurred when I was about three or four at one of my tea parties with my stuffed animals. Everyday my stuffed animals and I had a tea party and near the end my mom, our guess speaker, would come in and read one of Dr. Seusss books to us, most of the time it was Green Eggs and Ham. One day my mom had to go to the doctor and she was not back in time to read to us, and of course dad could not take her place because boys do not go to tea parties, but we could not go without hearing a story; therefore I had to read the book. I was very nervous, and although the stuffed animals would not have known if I were to mess up, I was, and still am a perfectionist; everything had to be exactly right. I began to read the words, and all of the sudden the nerves went away. I realized that I knew every word on the page, and the next, and even the one after that! As soon as mom returned home I rushed to her and told her all about what happened, she was very proud and asked me if I would like to be the guess speaker at the tea party the next day. I proudly agreed but I insisted that she come then too, just so she could see just how well I was doing. First grade brought about several more historical literacy events to my life. That was the year that I became intrigued with the Junie B. Jones series. They were a set of short chapter books that talked about a girl, Junie B. Jones, and her life as she went through her kindergarten year. Many of the things she did were quite silly and that is what made me, along with several other little girls, love reading her books so much. I can remember getting in trouble for arguing about when I was going to go to bed on a school

Trexler 2 night because I was trying to finish reading one more page, or one more chapter, or I was just trying to finish reading that book. No matter what, I was always trying to stay up later to read those fascinating books. First grade also brought about another literacy event, but this one was the very opposite of Junie B. Jones; this one was Phonics One. I remember that book like I just held it in my hand yesterday, it was a deep red color and all over the front it had phrases like, lets learn to write, writing is Awesome, and did you just use a short a or a long a. I always dreaded hearing the teacher say okay class lets get out our phonics books. Partly because the material it covered seemed boring to me, but mostly because I did not understand what it was trying to say when it talked about long and short vowels. We started learning out of that book around October and in April I had epiphany Everything suddenly clicked and I started answering all of the questions Mrs. Heiskey asked. It felt great to understand the material and I remember promising myself then that I would never give up on something if I didnt understand it at first because when I finally did understand it made me feel that much better. Very different challenges were brought about in the second grade. We had a teacher named Mrs. Beaver and she loved to get the entire second grade in the hall way and pick on one person to read one chapter of one of Nicholas Sparks books. I knew I could read and read well at that, to myself at least, but that did not stop me from getting the jitters and praying that she would not call on me when she was picking someone to read. Like I stated before I was and I still am a perfectionist, and I knew that no one would care if I messed up while reading. They were either one: not paying attention or two: they were just happy they were not having to read. They could not care less what I did while I was up there, but that did not stop me one bit from worrying. As tragic as I

Trexler 3 have made the event sound, Mrs. Beaver was a very caring lady and she did not want to call on someone who was going to stutter too much through the book because she did not want anyone to get laughed at or made fun of for not being as fluent as others. In theory that seems great then, I dont think I am a fluent reader and Mrs. Beaver doesnt like to call people out; therefore Ill never have to read, wrong, it did not matter how good or bad we thought we were, the only opinion that mattered was Ms. Beavers. She thought I was an excellent reader, thus making me read, what felt like, everyday. As time passed I began to accept that I was probably going to be called on and when I did I was going to just have to go up there and do the best that I could possibly do, I could not ask myself of anymore. Looking back on the whole experience, I am very thankful that Mrs. Beaver made me read as much as she did. I know that I would have never thought of pushing myself so far out of my comfort zone, but since Mrs. Beaver did that for me I believe that I am not only a better reader, but also a better public speaker. From the time I started school until about the fifth grade, throughout the summer my library had a summer reading event every week. We always had an author come talk to us about writing and I enjoyed listening to them, but that was not the reason I loved going so much. Before the presentation began everyone was given pieces of paper that had a spot for your name and also a spot to put the title of the book you read that week. The best part was, you were allowed to fill out as many as you could! After everyone had turned their papers into the basket, the speaker would tell us about their life as a writer and sometimes they would read us one of their books or let us play a game to see if we were paying attention to what they had said. When they were done they would start to draw names out of the basket and the more times you had put your name in, the

Trexler 4 better chances you had of them pulling your name out. They would always pull out ten names and all of those people would get a book, a Cheerwine, and a movie ticket. I would usually read anywhere from three to ten books a week, so I had a pretty good chance of winning, and most of the time I did; but, on the weeks that I didnt I went straight home and started reading as much as I could. By the time it was time to go back to the library the next week I would have read probably twelve books. Other times after I had been on a winning streak for a while the prizes were no longer the reason I was reading so much. I started making it a competition with myself, if I were to read seven books one week I wanted to read eight the next, and then nine after that, it just kept going because I always wanted to do more and better than the time before. From the end of elementary school all the way through middle school my literacy history did not change much, I read often but that was about it. Then, I got to my sophomore year of high school and I took Honors Civics. We did not do much reading and writing in that class but it felt like we had to memorize every piece of writing in history. The one I remember most clearly was the Pre-amble of the Constitution. Everyone had to read and memorize that and then we had to be able to recite it to the teacher throughout the year whenever she would ask. That made it much harder than just memorizing it for a test because now we had to know it right off the top of our head at any given moment. Many people did not want to learn it, and they were in high school and they thought they were cool so most people did not. Me, on the other hand, did not want to do poorly on the test so I did all that I could to memorize the Preamble. After days on end of studying, I came to the conclusion that there was no way I was going to be able to remember the whole thing I was devastated. I went on the computer to try to get

Trexler 5 my mind off of it, and I had no sooner got on the internet, when it occurred to me that I could probably Google the Preamble and there would be a way to memorize it. So, that is just what I did. Sure enough, I found a video where someone had put the Preamble to music. I sat for about an hour listening to the song and singing along with it. The next day at school my teacher had a pop-quiz, and yes it was on the pre-amble. I was ecstatic that I had learned the song and I was the only one in the class that made a one hundred. My teacher asked me what I had done and I showed her the song, then I asked if I could share it with the class. She very willingly agreed and by the end of that class period the majority of my class could sing that song like it was the newest, most popular song on the radio. That class and that song taught me a very important lesson about literacy. Literacy is the ability to read and write, but it is also the ability to comprehend. When I was rehearsing the pre-amble before I found the song, I was learning some of the words but I was not understanding the meaning at all. Unfortunately that was the whole point of the assignment was to understand what the founding fathers intended for that to say. After listening to the song I understood the meaning of the words and realized that reading and writing do us no good if we do not know the meaning behind what we read or the true reason why we are writing what we are. The next year, my junior year, I started to research what I wanted to write about for my senior paper. I had never received an assignment where I was allowed to write about what I wanted, and I also had never received an assignment where I had to write eight pages. In the beginning it was tough, there were so many things that I could write about but I was going to be spending the next two years of my life with that paper and topic so I had to pick something that was going to keep me interested. After about a

Trexler 6 month of research I finally picked a topic that I thought I would enjoy writing about, but I was still unsure that I was going to be able to write four whole pages about it. My teacher taught our class to look at writing the eight pages much differently. He said break your topic up into four sub-topics, now I want you to write two pages on those four topics. I had been writing two page papers since I was in the fifth grade so writing two pages was not a challenge at all. After several months of drafts and revisions, my final paper ended up being close to twelve pages long, one and a half times as long as it had to be. That senior paper, and my teacher, really taught me that there are really no rules in writing. As long as I met the few requirements no one cared if I broke my paper into four groups, twenty groups, or one huge group, all they cared about was me getting the paper written in the time limit I was given to write it. In that same year I also took Spanish Two and Three. I was quite surprised with how much I learned about English in my Spanish class. The way they structure their sentences is much different than how we do ours, but that is not the thing that shocked me the most. I learned in my Spanish Three class a lot about why things occur the way they do in our English language. I also learned the functions of different words in a sentence. Many things that were overlooked in English classes or you followed the rules of English writing simply because your teacher said you had to write like that but they never gave you a reason as to why were explained when I got to Spanish class. Going into high school I never wanted to have to take a foreign language, but since it was a requirement, I buckled down and did it anyway. Knowing, now, all of the benefits a second language can have on us, I wish I had been required to take a second language all the way through my schooling career. Not only do I believe it would have made me more vital to the work

Trexler 7 place, but I also think it would have taught me more about both of the languages, if I would have learned both of them simultaneously. Literacy in my life is ever changing and I hope it stays that way. I can see where I have grown, not only as a writer, and a reader, but also as a person. I believe that literacy is vital to a person, not only so they can read the paper or the menu at the restaurant, but also for their own sanity. We take for granted being able to write down everything that is bothering us, or just being able to get all of our feeling out in the open, but that is what lets us feel like we have a voice and a say as to what happens to us in our everyday lives.