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June 2009

Now is the time to organize your group of writers to create a local gallery in the National Gallery of Writing!

The current outlook for congressional recognition of October 20 as the National Day on Writing is bright:  Dina Titus (D-NV) is the primary sponsor of the resolution in the House and we have already enlisted more than 25 co-sponsors in both bodies of Congress. We anticipate a vote on the measure before the summer recess.

Have you written to your Representative asking him or her to co-sponsor or to vote for the resolution? Nearly 400 NCTE members wrote letters this month; it's your turn now to

Our list of National Partners -- organizations who are soliciting their members/stakeholders to publish in their national gallery space -- is impressive. It includes:

826 Project
American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science
Council of Writing Program Administrators
Google Docs
International Reading Assoc.
National Center for Family Literacy
National Council of Social Studies
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
National Endowment for the Humanities
National Geographic Society
National Science Teachers Assoc.
National Writing Project
ProLiteracy Worldwide
USA Today

See NCTE's resolutions and position statements on writing then think of a resolution you'd like to submit (on writing or some other topic) for consideration during the 2009 NCTE Annual Convention; October 15 is the submission deadline.

The National Day on Writing: An Historic Opportunity
to Advance Literacy
Kent Williamson, NCTE Executive Director

The National Gallery of Writing has been built and is accepting writing submissions to approximately 300 local and national galleries. This work will be published and open for public viewing on the National Day on Writing, October 20, 2009, and we will continue to accept and display work from writers everywhere through June 2010.

We are making excellent progress on this ambitious enterprise. But we REALLY need your help and participation. In the end, this initiative needs mass and scale -- the active participation of more than 100,000 writers -- to make a lasting impact. I am personally inviting you, as a Council-Grams reader, to be an activist and leader in this campaign by doing these five things to contribute to the success of the National Day on Writing initiative:

1.  Publish your own writing to the National Gallery. Don't wait. Choose any piece you've ever written, spoken, drawn, texted, or videoed, and submit it to the NCTE Gallery. It takes roughly six minutes to work through the publication process, and once you've done it, you'll be able to tell others just how easy it is. Which leads us to. . .

2.  Invite your family members and friends to publish to the National Gallery. In this great mosaic representation of how people write today, every piece counts. As long as it is significant to its author, we have a place for it in the National Gallery. And, every piece will be searchable by multiple criteria (at the discretion of each author), so it should be convenient to find pieces of interest to you from friends and acquaintances, people in your community, or those who share some of your characteristics or interests.

3.  Speak to classes you teach; community, service, or church groups you belong to; or journalists/media personalities you know about publishing to the National Gallery. If you have a well-defined group who would like to see their work published collectively, consider forming a local gallery.

4. Organize a celebration of writing in your school, group, or community on October 20, the National Day. The list of plans forming up around the country is impressive -- everything from writing marathons, to poetry slams, to memoir chains, to journal read-ins, to post-it note plot schemes are in the works. Get creative and make your celebration memorable!

5. Get ready to write to Congress as the vote to establish the National Day approaches. NCTE will be sending out an Action Alert later this summer to signal members when the time is right to get in touch with your congressional representative.

As an NCTE leader, you probably can think of other creative ways to make the most of this initiative. If you can leverage the great ideas and energy that are fueling this campaign to advance a literacy program in your school or institution, well, that's perfect. Here are a few more of our ideas:

Celebrity endorsements of the National Day and National Gallery are being gathered and will be shared widely throughout the late summer and fall.
Several related reports about the status and practice of writing have been produced by the Council, building awareness through national press coverage. More pieces designed to assist writers of all ages are in various stages of production.
An appeal for a Presidential Proclamation recognizing the National Day will be enroute to President Obama in July, as is an invitation to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to record a podcast or videoclip in support of the National Day.

When the NCTE Executive Committee authorized an effort to establish a National Day on Writing and National Gallery of Writing last fall, it had high hopes. This was to be our signal effort to reach beyond the bounds of our membership to invite all of America to write, and to reflect upon what writing means today: who writes, why, for what purposes, and with what tools.

But there were even higher hopes for what the initiative could mean for how NCTE is perceived; by demonstrating that the Council has the expertise and resources to help every writer share their work and improve their craft, we would be taking an important step towards the achievement of our organizational mission. And in the process, we would be providing a panoramic view of 21st century literacies in practice, valorizing the kinds of "everyday" writing that are too often overlooked or dismissed as trivial.

At some point I'd like to hear your story about the National Day or National Gallery of Writing. But don't stop to tell me now, just act. It's time for NCTE to "go viral!"

Council-Grams, a bimonthly newsletter for NCTE members who are leaders in the Council (committee chairs, executive committee members, editors, affiliate or assembly officers, etc.), is distributed by email by the National Council of Teachers of English, 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096; 800-369-6283. If you would like NCTE to have a different email address on file for you, please email

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Copyright 2009 National Council of Teachers of English
NCTE...The Professional Home of the English Language Arts Community

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