Next Thursday, October 20th, is the National Day on Writing. If you are like me, sometimes these special days sneak up on you, making it difficult to prepare something meaningful to do to celebrate. I am hoping this post reminds everyone of the fantastic opportunity to celebrate the importance of writing and provides some ideas on how you might mark this day (in plenty of time to put the plan into action!).
According to the NCTE site, “Every October 20, NCTE celebrates the importance, joy, and evolution of writing through a tweetup, using the hashtag #WhyIWrite and events hosted by thousands of educators across the country.” NCTE is joined by the National Writing Project, The New York Times Learning Network, and the Teaching Channel in hosting this day.
Last January, I began a Voxer group to discuss educators as writers. During the summer, our group began brainstorming some ideas for the National Day on Writing and we renewed the conversation last week. Here are some of the fabulous ideas that have been discussed:
Dana Kramaroff, a K-6 Instructional Coach from Pennyslvania, came up with “Unroll Your Idea!” Dana writes, “We often do reading challenges for the number of pages we can read or the number of books we complete. For National Day on Writing, invite students and staff to see how many inches or feet of writing they can do. Show students a roll of adding machine tape and ask them to approximate how many inches or feet they can fill with their writing. Roll out and measure a strip of tape and have students write. Hang the stories along the hallway wall between classrooms, hanging down from doorways, along the walls of the cafeteria. Get all writers in the building involved…that means the whole school…the janitor could have their writing hanging from their clean up cart, the principal could have theirs hanging from their office door. Even the bus drivers could write and have it on display, taped to the walls of the bus.”
Fran McVeigh, a Reading Specialist in Iowa, shared how her school district will celebrate the National Day on Writing by having students write thank you cards and letters for people in their family, their school, and the community, including community helpers such as firefighters and police officers. This is a beautiful idea to help promote writing as well as gratitude and citizenship.
Kristi Lonheim, a 5th grade teacher in Saudi Arabia, had the idea to create a Writing Scavenger Hunt, and ask students to look for where they find writing in their everyday lives. They can keep a list, sharing all the ways they use writing and see it used in the world around them. Kristi also suggested allowing students to have time to free write on the National Day on Writing. Students love the opportunity to write in whatever style or genre they like about whatever topic they choose.
Aside from these valuable contributions from our TWT Voxer group, there are so many writers and educators who generously share resources that might be of use to you as you plan ways to celebrate the National Day on Writing. Amy Ludwig Vanderwater , children’s author, poety and writing teacher, has created an amazing resource: a Padlet of favorite fictional characters who keep notebooks and live writerly lives. Sharing this with your students would be another way to make a connection to the National Day on Writing. If you haven’t visited Amy’s Sharing Our Notebooks site or The Poem Farm, be sure to stop by and check out all the amazing resources that celebrate writing, especially keeping a notebook and poetry.
Jess Keating ,”author, zoologist, bookwork”, has created “Write with Jess”, a video series where she gives writing tips to students. The videos are short and kid-friendly and address writing issues such as how do you get ideas and why you need to revise. The National Day on Writing would be a perfect time to share one of Jess’ videos with your students.
Our Two Writing Teachers archives also include ideas from years past on ways to celebrate this day of writing. Additionally, NCTE is hosting a Twitter chat (#nctechat) on Sunday, October 16th, at 8 p.m. ET to discuss “The National Day on Writing: Why I Write.”
I am disappointed I won’t be with my students on October 20th, but excited that I will be at the New York State English Council’s (NYSEC) 66th Conference in Albany, New York. I’ll be presenting a workshop on blogging with students, making the National Day on Writing a perfect time to share my love of writing and blogging with an audience of educators. I created a padlet to share with my students, this Two Writing Teachers community, and any educator who feels it can be useful. The padlet asks contributors to share a time that you wrote something that mattered. Click here to access it and add to it.
How do you plan on celebrating the National Day on Writing this year? Please share any ideas in the comments!