This is a comic for the National Day on Writing, as we think about communities that we are part of as writers and teachers. I was thinking of my online communities and my offline communities, and how there is not an either/or when it comes to connections — it can be both.
Today is the sixth annual National Day on Writing, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English and various partners (like the National Writing Project) and this year’s theme is Writing Your Community. I’ve been mulling over how best to do this, and decided that mapping out communities — either literally or metaphorically — made a lot of sense.
Check out this workshop that I led at our Western Massachusetts Writing Project this weekend, in which we played around with paper circuitry to illuminate nodes on maps of our communities. This workshop was part of our annual Best Practices conference, and the group of teachers were highly engaged in this hands-on activity around transforming notebooks with circuits and lights.
Yesterday, students in each of my classes did some podcasting for the National Day on Writing.
They had written an artist statement about a Lions’ Club international Peace Poster project now underway with our art teacher, with a theme of Our World/Our Future. When their posters are hanging up around the school, their artists statement will be part of that. I am still mulling over the best way to connect the podcasts to the posters in a digital space. Maybe Voicethread …
Today, I hope to do some podcasting with my sixth graders, using Soundcloud, for the National Day on Writing (which officially was yesterday, I think, but the Sunday spills over into Monday in my mind). This year’s theme is Write to Connect (or Write2Connect), and I played around with some comics and memes yesterday, sharing out into various online spaces to spark the ideas of writing.
I am tinkering with an software program called, eh, LICEcap that allows you to create animated gifs for screenshots. I hosted the animated gif in Flickr, but to share the animated version from there, you have to navigate to “all sizes” and copy/share the original. A typical embed in Flickr doesn’t do the trick.
And on behalf of the National Day on Writing, I created this:
Thanks to Doug Belshaw for sharing this one out in his newsletter.
I suppose this was inevitable and not at all unexpected. But the National Council of Teachers of English is closing the virtual doors on the National Gallery of Writing. This online repository of writing (to date, there are more than 33,000 pieces of writing) was established for the first National Day on Writing back in 2009 (seems like a long time ago now). Each year, participants in the National Day of Writing have been encouraged to write and publish in the Gallery as a way to honor the richness of writing. I have writing in there, and networks that I have been part of (including the National Writing Project) have hosted “galleries” in the site over the years. (see my Log of Daily Writing from a few years ago)
But to be frank (and I was part of a small committee at one time thinking of how to re-energize the Gallery), the site was not really built for the times. What I mean by that is that the architecture of the site — from submission to search — was always clunky and difficult/complex to use, and one of the biggest drawbacks was that readers could not leave comments or contribute to writing that was in the Gallery.
Writing became static there. And that is in conflict with all the ways that technology enhances writing. We, the reader, expect to be able to add our thoughts. We anticipate the possibility of the remix. We hope that embedded media works in tandem with the written words. We expect writing to be alive. The Gallery tried to do that but then got stuck in time, I suspect, and NCTE did not have the funds (or did not want to allocate the funds) to upgrade the entire system.
Which is not to say the Gallery of Writing did not have value. It did. It was part of a push by NCTE and companion organizations to honor writing and to show how complex and amazing the writing is that we do. The Gallery may be going silent (I believe it closes down at the end of this month, so if you have writing in there you want to keep, I’d go get it) but the National Day on Writing continues.
On October 21, you can celebrate the National Day on Writing. This year’s theme is “connected writing,” as far as I can determine, which makes a lot of sense, right? I’ll be thinking about how to connect my students as writers this year. What about you?
Since the National Day on Writing, a number of students from other grades have come into our classroom to add their own sticky notes about “what we write” to our classroom mural. So, I updated the video and stretched it out a bit (and fixed a nagging missing letter that Animoto dropped off on me). The photo above shows what the huge WRITE looks like now, and just in time for parent-teacher conferences, too.
I was lucky to be invited to chat with some friends about the nature of writing, in celebration of the National Day on Writing last week. Steve Moore and Scot Squires host a new website called Write on Through, and they invited myself and Betty Raye (of Edutopia) to talk about writing, the teaching of writing and our own writing. Through some strange tech quirk, Scot and Steve (a friend via the National Writing Project) never got their voices recorded, so you have to use a little inference to their questions. But they mixed it as best as they could and I think Betty and I come across as fervent believers in the power of writing.
This year, to honor the National Day on Writing, we created a massive block-letter WRITE on the back chalkboard in the classroom. During the week, students used colored sticky notes to share the kinds of writing they enjoy doing. It’s been pretty magical to see the WRITE fill up with ideas. I’ve also had my camera ready, taking images as the sticky notes were being placed.