Tomorrow, Monday October 20 is the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)’s sixth annual National Day on Writing. From NCTE’s website: NCTE, the National Writing Project, and The New York Times Learning Network invite you to celebrate writing in all its forms: through photos, film, and graphics; with pens, pencils, and computers; in graphs, etchings, and murals; on sidewalks, screens, and paper.
So tomorrow, celebrate all forms of written communication. Here are a few ideas:
- Hold a Chalk-A-Bration. As coined by Besty Hubbard, a chalk-a-bration is a mash-up of poetry, and images written in chalk, left in a public place for others to enjoy. Read some poetry to your class, or use on of the myriad other ways Betsy suggests to inspire young writers on her blog.
- Write through the visual arts, as Tara Smith recently posted. Have your students study beautiful images and respond to them in writing. Or, tuck in a quick series of lessons in which you encourage students to graphically represent ideas or information they would otherwise communicate in words.
- Watch short films to study author’s craft and point of view. I am particularly fond of Pixar’s Theatrical Shorts. La Luna is one of my favorites. It is simply stunning in its simplicity, beauty, and simplicity. Show it once simply to let your students experience and enjoy it. On multiple viewings, guide students to watch with any one of many, many fascinating lenses. They could study characterization and how the characters’ story arcs unfold. They could study framing and how the artists show what is important with what they chose to feature in each shot. They could think about how the story might have been developed, from outlining, to storyboarding, to the final product.
This year, the theme of NCTE’s national convention is Story as the Landscape of Knowing. Their description: Stories saturate our lives, woven so tightly into the fabric of the everyday that it’s easy to overlook their value as a way of knowing the world. They are the glue that creates community and binds us together around common purposes and values.
So finally, to celebrate the National Day on Writing, simply tell stories. Sit with your students, campfire style, and begin, “Remember last month when we went on that field trip to the zoo? Let’s tell the story together of how we got lost on the way to see the red pandas…” Or, invite students to sit with a classmate they haven’t gotten to know very well yet and share a story from their lives. If you teach older students, you might hold an impromptu Moth-style story slam.
Last year, I invited you to think about your bottom-lines beliefs about the teaching of writing to celebrate the National Day on Writing. Here is a link to that post, as revisiting and re-confirming what we truly believe about writing is certainly worth doing year after year.
Happy National Day on Writing, and all the best to all of you writing teachers out there, from all of us at Two Writing Teachers.
Anna is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer, based in New York City. She taught internationally in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Auckland, New Zealand in addition to New York before becoming a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP). She has been an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and teaches at TCRWP where she helps participants bring strong literacy instruction into their classrooms. Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction (Heinemann, 2010).