40-60 minutes

Learning Outcomes

  • Read about the characteristics of good definitions
  • Apply the conventions of definitions and definition essays as you compose your own definition of the word literacy
  • Practice favorite brainstorming techniques as you plan to write a hypothetical definition essay

Prerequisite Reading

“Writing Definitions” (Purdue OWL)

“How to Write a Definition Essay” (Lumen)

“Literacy Learning in Postmodern Times” from Good Intentions (1999) by Nancy Grimm

Assignment Description

  1. As a group, discuss Grimm’s argument about what literacy is and how Grimm says we ought to define or “locate” it. (10-15 minutes)
  2. Synthesizing the main points of the discussion, each person will write one short definition (1-2 sentences) and one long definition (at least a good-sized paragraph) of the term literacy. (10-15 minutes)
  3. When everyone has finished writing, each person (or simply those who wish to) will share what they wrote and provide a brief rationale. (10-15 minutes)
  4. Following these explanations, have each person work with a partner and brainstorm ideas for turning these definitions into definition essays. Talk about personal insights and possible research ideas/source materials each writer could potentially draw from or explore. (10-15 minutes)

Note: They do not need to write a definition essay unless they wish to. The point of this final step is to practice good consulting strategies.