Friday, October 21, 2016

Celebrating with the National Day on Writing

It is so important for students to share in and celebrate their writing on a regular basis in the classroom. When I heard about NCTE's National Day on Writing (which is celebrated on October 20th each year), I knew that I wanted my classes to join in on the fun. An excuse to write for an entire class period? Sign me up! While we write daily in ELA class, I wanted to give my students an entire class period to play, explore and create with words without the lens of "writing for class." I wanted them to write for themselves.

I decided that the best way to structure the day would be to give students a variety of ways they could experience writing and to let them move about from station to station as they wanted. Most importantly, I wanted my students to have fun with writing. I wanted my room to be bubbling over with laughter, collaboration and joy...and the words of my students.

We started our celebration by doing a "writing warm-up." As soon as students walked into the room, I had them immediately come to the carpet with their Chromebook or their journal, depending on their preference. We watched a very intriguing music video and wrote together for five minutes. I liked starting our time together with a shared writing experience simply because it got the creative juices flowing.

Getting warmed up! 
I then briefly shared the different writing opportunities they could explore for the remainder of the class period:

#WhyIWrite Statements

I love the #WhyIWrite hashtag and getting to read all of the reasons why people love writing. I shared my statement with my students (and some from other teachers & staff members in our school--so important for them to see writing is powerful everywhere, not just in ELA), and then, I invited them to write their own! I wanted to make these statements visible to the entire school (to build community), so I covered my classroom door with paper and asked students to "graffiti" it with their reasons for writing.

I loved reading their statements--as always, my writers blew me away with their depth of thought and perception! This activity was a neat way to build our writing community and reflect on why writing is so important for each of us.

Revise the Story with Little Golden Books

This summer, I was introduced to Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett's hilarious picture book Battle Bunny. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it! The gist of the book is that a little boy receives a "cheesy" picture book for his birthday called Birthday Bunny and takes a pencil to it to rewrite and illustrate it into something he'd like to read: Battle Bunny!

I invited my students to do the same thing with Little Golden Books. Battle Bunny  was on the table as a mentor text for students to look through before creating their own "revised story." I provided copies of the Little Golden Book versions of Sleeping Beauty, The Poky Little Puppy, Snow White, The Princess & the Pea and Cinderella for students to rewrite and edit into new stories!

Changing it up! 
 My favorites from the day were The Porky Little Puppy and KinderElla (she longs to be a kindergarten teacher). This station was a big hit and showed students that, sometimes, the best stories are derivatives of other stories. Inspiration is everywhere!

Collaborative story
This station was simple to prep: I just covered two of my tables with large white paper and wrote a sentence at the top that was enticing enough to make my students want to tell the story yet vague enough to be open to interpretation. Throughout the day, students would go over, read the story and add a sentence or two. In some classes, writers teamed up to write together for awhile, which resulted in a lot of laughing and imagination.

At the end of the day, the stories weren't finished, so I moved them to my cabinets so that, if inspiration strikes, students can keep adding to the story. It was so fun to see where the stories went and to see my students' wild imaginations at work! Through this collaborative story, my writers saw the power of harnessing the thoughts of more than one mind and how ideas can grow and change in our writing.

Love Letters from Anonymous People to Put in Library Books
Another way to get students writing was to invite them to write "love letters from anonymous people" to place in books in our middle school library. Our students recently experienced Rachel's Challenge, an assembly where they are challenged to create a chain reaction of kindness in our school. Writing these short, anonymous notes of encouragement and placing them for other students to find randomly is a great way to keep the momentum of this powerful assembly going.

A lot of very sweet cards were written, and I'm excited to give them to the librarian to hide in the books that get checked out often! This simple act shows students that writing can heal, and it has the power to turn someone's day around.

Playing With Digital Writing

For the students who enjoy going digital, I put together a Symbaloo of digital writing websites.

I included comic strip generators, a site to create a 'choose your own adventure' story, focused writing sites & more. I encouraged students to play around with these ways to create writing digitally. A group in my last hour class decided to work on a shared Google Doc to write a collaborative story. With six boys typing over each other, it was pretty chaotic, but they had fun--and they wanted to share their story today during our author's chair time, so I'm going to call that a win!
A lot of laughing was going on. Writing is fun!
By offering time to play and experiment with digital writing, my writers discovered that writing is everywhere, and it doesn't always mean putting a pen to paper. Going digital gives my writers an opportunity to share and create like never before.

Taking the time to honor and celebrate writing on a specific day is so worthwhile. It shows our students that writing is not just an act "for class" but a creative act that is joyous, collaborative and fun. I'm already thinking of how I can continue to create space for this kind of celebrative writing experience as we move forward this school year. 


  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing all these great ideas!

  2. Spectacular!!!! I bought some Golden Books this year too...we should share :)

  3. Yes! We should scan them into Drive and start a folder!