What is the National Day on Writing?
On October 20, 2009, organizations (including universities and schools) across the country will celebrate the National Day on Writing. Sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (and co-sponsored by a number of organizations), this day is intended to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing all of us engage in and designed to help make us, as writers from all walks of life, aware of our craft.
In preparation for this day, NCTE is working with partner organizations to create a virtual gallery of writing. The National Gallery will be a digital archive of samples that exhibit how and why Americans are writing every day, accessible to all through a free, searchable website.Writers’ pieces will be accompanied by
- brief descriptive entries (meta-data) describing who the writer is,
- the genre of writing represented, and
- why s/he selected this particular piece to submit to the Gallery.
How might CEE members participate?
This initiative offers some exciting opportunities for CEE. CEE created a “local gallery” that identifies a theme and a description of the kinds of writing we’d like to include. Individual sites (such as a particular university’s English education program) can then create their own “sub galleries” within which they place their own students’ writing. Each sub gallery must have a “curator” who will make sure each entry is appropriate for the site.
Each site might want to set a prompt or prompts about writing and the teaching of writing for their own pre-service and practicing teachers to respond to. (For some suggested prompts, see below.) This variety of response and links across various CEE sites has the potential to demonstrate to others the complicated nature of teaching writing as well as the commitment of new and practicing teachers to writing instruction.
CEE Gallery Information
(Visit the CEE Gallery; other local sites will be sub galleries nested within it)
Conference on English Education
Theme and Description
Theme: Becoming a Teacher of Writing: What Matters Most
Description: Across the country undergraduate and graduate students who are studying to become teachers learn about research-based best practices in the teaching of writing. Here we present what these soon-to-be teachers are learning about themselves as writers and about ways of teaching writing.
Specifics on How to Participate:
To start a local gallery nested within CEE’s gallery
- Go to http://galleryofwriting.org/;
- Click on “Start a local gallery” and follow the instructions;
- When asked if you want this to be a sub gallery, check yes;
- You’ll then be directed to identify the name of the sub gallery. Scroll down the list of local galleries to Conference on English Education.
Possible prompts for CEE members to use in their classes:
1. Who are you as a writer?
Ask pre-service teachers to think about themselves as writers and how they came to be the writers they are today. This prompt, from NCTE’s CoLEARN site, might be used or adapted.
Purpose: Our beliefs about literacy are shaped in part by our personal experiences becoming literate or participating in literacy practices. This prompt encourages you to explore a personal memory about learning to write and the influence this experience has had on your understanding of writing.
To begin, try to think of a memorable experience in writing from your childhood. It might have occurred as you were learning to write or as you engaged in family or social gatherings (e.g., writing a family holiday card, keeping lists and charts). It might be a pleasant memory or an unhappy one. Write about this memory and what you can learn from it about yourself as a writer.
To understand the ways in which this memory may have shaped your writing and sense of yourself as a writer, you might want to explore the following questions:
- How did this experience affect you as a writer? Did it encourage you to write more, write less, broaden your ideas about writing, build or diminish your confidence in your writing?
- What role did other people play in this experience? Helper? Teacher? Partner? Critic?
- What kinds of writing did this experience authorize? In other words, what kinds of writing were expected in this context?
- Did this experience help you think of yourself as a writer? Did it encourage you to continue writing?
- Would your students have had similar experiences to this one?
2. Who are you as a teacher of writing?
Ask practicing teachers to respond to a prompt about their own practices and beliefs as writing teachers. This prompt, from NCTE’s CoLEARN site, might be used or adapted.
8Purpose: As teachers of writing, you probably have acquired a great many artifacts that represent the ways in which you approach this work. Taking some time to look through this collection can help you think through, perhaps, why you approach the teaching of writing in the ways you do.
- Schedule some time at school to "dig" for evidence of how you teach writing. Start at your desk and work your way through your classroom, collecting artifacts as you go. "Dig" is the operative word here. Don't just go for the big, visible items like books and lesson plans; bulletin boards, photographs, even the physical arrangement of the room may tell you a lot about how you approach the teaching of writing.
- Take a day or two to expand the dig by focusing in on what strategies you use as you teach writing. Whole class writing assignments? Individual choice in topic selection? Small or large group minilessons? Try to collect any additional artifacts that represent these strategies and take a few notes each day that list the various strategies you've used.
- After collecting a range of artifacts and a list of strategies divide a piece of paper into three equal columns: In the first column, simply list the artifacts; in the second column, write the functions(s) that the artifact serves in your overall approach to teaching writing; in the third column, write about the background of that artifact and the approach it represents (did it come from a course you took, an idea that came from discussion with colleagues, something one of your own teachers did or used?).
- Reflect on the insights you have gained regarding the teaching of writing through this process. What have you learned about your approaches to writing instruction? How might this experience begin to change your definitions of writing and writing instruction?
- Write about what you believe about the teaching of writing to share with others.
3. Who are your students as writers?
Ask pre-service teachers who are involved with K-12 students to start a correspondence with them about writing. The pre-service teachers might begin by writing letters in which they talk about who they are as writers: what they write, how they write, why they write. They can ask the students to respond, answering the same 3 questions. If permissions are given from both sides, these dialogues about writing would be a great addition to the CEE gallery.
4. How is my writing important?
Ask pre-service teachers to choose a piece of writing that was really important to them for any reason. Ask them to revisit the piece and write a reflection that explains why they wrote it, how they wrote it, and why it seemed important.