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Looking Back at National Day on Writing Celebrations

I have been fortunate enough to be part of every National Day on Writing since it began in 2009. On this, the 10th anniversary, I wanted to take a look back at some of my favorite ways that folks have celebrated the National Day over the years:

Join #NCTEchats on writing—While #NCTEchat is always inspiring, I am always amazed at the lively conversations that happen during the October chats. Folks share all sorts of ideas about writing in and out of the classroom. Join #NCTEchat tonight to talk about “Writing for Empathy.”

Create Graffiti Walls (but only in sanctioned spaces!)— Do you have a wall with good traffic that is big enough to have several people read and write on at the same time? Create a shared writing experience by posting a large banner or poster with a prompt in a public space. Invite participants to respond to the prompt and to each other’s writing. This can be done on the banner itself or via sticky notes.

Share #WhyIWrite Authors Videos or Invite Authors into Schools—Invite well-known local, regional, or national writers to share their writing tips and samples of their work at schools, libraries, or local group events. If possible, include a book signing at the end. If they can’t come in person, utilize technology to bring them in or use already recorded videos.

Host a Gallery Walk—Much like a visual art gallery, a gallery walk of writing can be a way to stop and savor various compositions. Hang pieces in a public space and invite viewers for an “opening” and/or keep it up all month long. A virtual gallery can also be created by posting pieces of writing (with full permission) on a website, blog, or social media site.

Hold a Write-In!—Create a thematic writing event that focuses on a specific cause or issue. Begin the event by exploring the purpose of the writing and leading a discussion around the issue. Provide ample time and supplies to support participants in doing and sharing the writing. Examples of products might include letters to the editor, cards to people in the military, emails/messages to legislators, posters for an awareness campaign, etc.

Create Collaborative List Poetry or a Class-Combined Written Story—Invite participants to create poetry or stories together using a variety of methods. Showcase the written pieces in a public space or online. Read more about this idea by Kwame Alexander.

Conduct Freewrites, Outside!—Invite writes to allow their thoughts to meander, writing down ideas as they come to mind. The writers should go down alleyways in the mind that could not be explored in a formal essay requiring transitions and logical placement of ideas. Further help this process by writing outside, calling on nature as an inspiration.

Schedule an Open Mic Storytelling or Poetry Event—Invite participants to share original work and an audience to come hear the readings. Make sure to have a room big enough to have a “stage” area for presentations and plenty of room for an audience.

Keep a Writing Diary—Encourage your students to uncover all of the different kinds of writing they do on a daily basis by asking them to keep a list of everything they write, from text messages to school assignments, e-mails to diary entries, in a single day. We are all voracious writers!

All That You Do!—We are anxious to see and hear what you are doing for the National Day on Writing! I always get ideas for what I can do next year. Share your celebrations with us here.

We can’t wait to celebrate the National Day on Writing and #WhyIWrite with you!