Celebrating National Day on Writing: Comic Strip Style

Well,  the Huge Comic Strip Concept for celebrating at National Day on Writing at our school was pretty successful. It was also completely chaotic, as students rushed into the cafeteria at lunch, forgetting that they were there to eat and only wanted to write on the comic strip banner. At one point, I had to leave my own classroom just to act as traffic controller for the cafeteria staff, but it was fun to see so much energy and excitement around the act of writing and drawing.

I started with one large comic strip banner, but quickly realized that it was filling up and three times, I had to rush out, cut another strip of banner paper and add it to the original. I would turn my head and when I looked back, that one, too, would be filled with writing.

The original comic asked the question: What do you like to write? The answers ranged from stories, to poems, to plays, to comics, to tales about pets, sports stories and songs. It was pretty cool, and I had some great discussions with the younger kids about what they like to write.

I went on our closed-circuit morning television announcements to tell the school about National Day on Writing and to show the students (we have more than 500 students) the original comic strip banner, and one teacher later told me: “There was this incredible buzz in the room about writing. My entire class asked if they could run down to the cafeteria right then and start writing on it.


I hope you were able to celebrate your own version of the National Day on Writing, too.

Peace (on the banner),

Pin the Mouse on the Teacher

Here, Mr. Teach finally tries to get at the heart of what Boolean is doing for his project around developing an App for the MeTouch device. Boolean, in turn, pokes some fun at Mr. Teach.

Peace (in the app),

Celebrate National Day on Writing!

Today is the official National Day on Writing, spearheaded by the National Council of Teachers of English. It’s a day to celebrate the love of writing in all of its forms and NCTE has established a Gallery of Writing online, where you can explore thousands of pieces of writing now published for this event. You can even still submit writing.

But I encourage you to do something with your students today … something that gets them writing and then, you should write right along with them.

At our school, I decided to create a massive comic strip that I am putting in our cafeteria. I’ll have markers out. And the comic asks: What do you like to write? I imagine it like a graffiti board, of sorts, for our entire school and I want to take pictures of the comic as the day progresses (we’ll see if I have time for that).

The huge comic is about 25 feet long and about two feet high. It’s pretty neat. I can’t wait to see it covered with student writing and drawings and thoughts.

But I also created a Boolean Squared comic for today’s events. And of course, Boolean pushes the boundaries a bit:

Heck: if Boolean can do it, why not me? This is a poem I am just starting in preparation for my 30Poems in 30Days project in November.

<p>I&#8217;m plunging into poetry:<br />
here&#8212;hold my mask as I check my head<br />
for thoughts<br />
that might emerge<br />
from this murky depth</p>

Peace (in the celebration of writing),

PS: the poem, converted

I’m plunging into poetry:
here—hold my mask as I check my head
for thoughts
that might emerge
from this murky depth

Seeking Sponsors for 30 poems/30 days

In our small city, we have our own poet laureate. This year, it is Leslea Newman (who gained some national exposure with her then-controversial picture book “Heather has Two Mommies”). Newman is a wonderful poet, gifted author and creative force in our area. She has even done some work with my Western Massachusetts Writing Project.

Newman put out a call recently for local residents to take part in an event known as the 30 Poems in 30 Days event. This is both a way to get people to write (yeah!) and to generate funds for a worthy organization that provides free services to immigrant families in our region (double-yeah!). Here is an article about the event.

Yesterday, I created a Google Form and asked folks in my virtual networks to consider sponsoring me as a poet by pledging a small amount of money per poem that I will write in November. (I will be posting the poems here at this blog and also as part of an online writing network through National Writing Project known as the iAnthology).

I am quite humbled to see that I already have 11 people signed up. Thank you thank you thank you.

If you would like to consider sponsoring me, please fill out the following form. I deeply appreciate any help you can give and although I am a bit nervous about writing so many poems, I am going to channel the little red engine and say, “I think I can …. I think I can …” and go where the creative energy takes me.

Peace (in the poems),

The Linux Penguin to the Rescue

Boolean gives more details about his dream in which Apple and Microsoft represent his conscience and just when he is caught in the conundrum of hacking dilemma, along comes a penguin …

Peace (in the code),

Boolean, Apple and Microsoft

Today, Boolean explains a dream that he has had, in which Apple and Microsoft icons are his “inner voice.” My original thought was to have cartoons of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but I wasn’t sure whether I could pull it off and if I might run into copyright issues (something Boolean would not give a hoot about). I think the icons are more effective, though.
App challenge 7

Peace (in the hack),

Let ’em create …

Last week, I introduced my students to our closed ToonDoo Comic Site and set them free. We did a mini-lesson around our vocabularly words, but to be honest, we barely had time for them to create much. But they were so excited when I said they could create comics at home from the site, if they wanted.

I guess they wanted …

This weekend, I have been monitoring a bunch of activity on the site, with a few dozen comics being created by a large number of students. Most of them comics are just exploration, although one posted a comic without any dialogue and began asking for others to provide the text through the use of the comment box. Neat.

I liked this one because it says a lot about this class of students. They are nice kids and open to a lot of differences amongst them. In the comment part of this comic, a lot of students wrote that they loved this comic and noted “how true” the message is.

Peace (in and outside of the box),

Hacking into Mr. Teach

Here, my story arc with Boolean and the Imagination App Challenge continues. Boolean is designing a Grade Remorse Calculator and needs to do a bit of hacking to get data.

Peace (in the app),

Today .. I Get to Write

I’m excited. Today, I found some time in the weekend schedule (thank you, honey) to join the first of a series of Writing Marathons being sponsored by my Western Massachusetts Writing Project. We’re gathering over at Smith College for a few hours, just to write, share and connect.

What am I going to write today? I have a whole list of ideas and am struggling with what to focus on (a common problem — thus, Kevin’s Meandering Mind).

Here are some ideas:

  • More Boolean Squared. I have a handful of potential stories and ideas for my comic and it would be nice to have time to write them and begin putting them together.
  • Our new bike path in Leeds. I love it but people are already leaving trash along the edges. That drives me nuts. And it lends creedance to those who advocate AGAINST bike paths. I’m thinking of a letter to the editor on this one.
  • I started a piece about how I write for myself, but in a public sphere (such as this blog) and what that means. I’m not sure what that means and the piece needs a lot of work.
  • This year, I am co-teaching an inclusion classroom for the first time (well, I piloted it a bit last year) and I would love to write about how that is going and what we are learning along the way. It’s been a day-to-day navigation, made easier by the fact that we get along so well. But, I wonder, what if we didn’t get along? This so-called system we have right now would just fall apart.
  • Short stories and poems. Got a head full of possibilities there.

Oh well, we’ll see where it goes. If you live in Western Mass and want to join us, we’re meeting at the Smith College Art Museum at 11 a.m. Bring a lunch, something to write with and a $3 fee to cover some costs.

Peace (in the words),