It was bedtime in my house, and we were getting a late start on reading the next chapter in Junie B. Jones. My daughter, Megan, insisted on bringing paper into the bed with her as I read aloud. “I just love to write,” she sighed, filling the page with her words and ideas. Indeed, she does. Lists, songs, stories, plays, cards, letters- writing fills her world and she purposefully uses writing for expression, communication and creativity. As a first grader, she has utter confidence in her ability to write.
In professional workshops, I’ve asked teachers, “Are you a reader?” and every hand goes up. When I ask, “Are you a writer?” there are hardly any who will raise their hands. How and why does that change? Why are we reluctant to claim the identity as writers, when we might have easily believed it as young children, maybe even snuck paper into bed to write into the night? What role do teachers play in helping students not only grow in their ability to write but their confidence to share their ideas in written form?
Why do you write? Why do your students write? Why does it matter that you can express your thoughts, ideas, and opinions in writing? Why does it matter that we share our stories?
October 20th is the National Day on Writing, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and it is a day to reflect on all these questions and celebrate the role writing plays in our lives. Since October 20th is a Sunday this year, you might choose to celebrate this day with your students today, October 18th, or Monday, October 21st. You can follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #whyIwrite.
Here are some ways I plan to celebrate the National Day on Writing with my third grade students:
I plan to read aloud Dan Yaccarino’s I Am A Story, a moving book about how stories have been passed on since the beginning of time.
I will share Recipe for Writing an Autumn Poem by Georgia Heard and we will discuss how Georgia combined cookbook terms with fall objects. Students will try their own “recipe” poem for a season or holiday of their choice, using Buncee as a way to create digitally.
My fabulous student teacher has been helping the students to learn about persuasive writing and they will craft their opinion on the topic of slime in school.
We will continue sharing our “word of the day.” I purchased Storyteller’s Word a Day by Mrs. Wordsmith and each morning, my class learns a new vocabulary word. The students have been truly enjoying the words and I’ve noticed them using them in conversation. We’ve “swaggered” down the hall together after learning the word “swagger” and one student showed me her “velvety” gloves after we talked about what the word means. Word play and expanding our vocabularies is a fun way to continue celebrating the National Day on Writing!
Finally, students will have time to write on the blogs we launched last week via Kidblog! I have already learned so much more about my students from reading their blog posts. They ask to blog every day!
One other way I am excited to celebrate the National Day on Writing is to kick-off the Long Island Writing Project’s Saturday Series on Saturday, October 19th. While it is a day before the National Day on Writing, it is an opportunity to meet with other educators and read, write, and reflect. Nicole Mirra wiill be facilitating our first workshop in the series and the topic is “I Hesitate But I Have Hope: Critical Civic Empathy in Troubled Times.” Nicole is the author of Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement and is the recipient of the 2019 NCTE David H. Russell Award for for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English. I am so eager to hear about her book and to discuss ways to use literacy to build critical civic empathy.
On Sunday, I want to take some time to reread the writing I’ve done on my blog and here at TWT. Maybe I will write some positive postcards to send home to students. Maybe I will write a letter of thanks to a friend who is always there for me. Perhaps a poem, a list, an Instagram post? The possibilities are endless when it comes to writing.
How do you plan to celebrate the National Day On Writing?
Here are some links to past TWT posts on The National Day On Writing for more ideas on how to celebrate: