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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Five-Minute Film Festival: National Day on Writing

I'm excited to celebrate the 2012 National Day on Writing on October 19th and 20th. Sponsored by the National Writing Project, the National Council of Teachers of English, and a whole host of other great organizations (including Edutopia!), it's an opportunity to share your text with a mass audience, and a great way to bring awareness to the value of writing as a means of communication in the 21st century.

Last year's theme of "Why I Write" was a huge success, and this year, it's changed to "What I Write" to help capture the breadth of the kinds of writing we all do. Use the hashtag #whatiwrite on Twitter to share your work with the world, and encourage your students to do the same. To get those creative juices flowing, here are some resources for teaching writing.

Video Playlist: #WhatIWrite

Keep watching the player below to see the rest of the playlist, or view it on YouTube.

  1. Mysteries of Vernacular: Clue (01:42)

    The first thing that comes to mind when I think of #WhatIWrite? Words, of course! This delightful series called Mysteries of Vernacular explores the origins of a single word with a stop-motion tale in the pages of a book. The creators plan to eventually make one video for each letter of the alphabet.

  2. Vonnegut Advice: Short Stories

    Engage students by finding writing advice from their favorite authors -- start with Brain Pickings' excerpt from the book Advice to Writers or Open Culture's blog post with writing advice from Henry Miller, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and more. In this video, Kurt Vonnegut dispenses a rather poetic list of eight pieces of advice for writing.

  3. What is the Office of Letters and Light? (01:59)

    One of the co-sponsors of the National Day on Writing is the whimsically named Office of Letters and Light -- the same org that sponsors NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, in November) and the Young Writer's Program. Watch this video to learn more about their work.

  4. 826 National: Don't Forget To Write (03:59)

    Another fantastic program that encourages students to write is 826 Valencia, co-founded in San Francisco by educator Ninive Calegari and author Dave Eggers to provide under-resourced kids with a chance to get creative and hone their skills. 826 now has eight writing centers across the country.

  5. The Power of Simple Words - Terin Izil (02:02)

    TED-Ed has been pairing animators with educators to make edu videos. In this one, a teacher makes the case that writers should not use $10 words to spice up their writing. See the full lesson here. Or, check out the opposite viewpoint in The Case Against "Good" and "Bad".

  6. Teaching Writing in the Digital Age (04:20)

    National Writing Project teacher-consultant Joel Malley makes the case that writing is more important than ever in our digital world, as he describes the many ways writing is critical in the collaborative learning processes in his classroom.

  7. Ms. Noonan: Making Students into Better Writers (04:43)

    The Teaching Channel (TCH) offers videos with practical examples of real teachers in the classroom. This video profiles a 5th grade teacher who meets with each student individually during "Writer's Workshop." You can see all videos from Ms. Noonan's class on the TCH website.

  8. National Day on Writing (01:04)

    This fun student-produced video was filmed on last year's National Day on Writing at Lennard High School in Ruskin, Florida, for their daily news show, the Roundup Report. Teachers around the campus offer writing advice.

  9. PostSecret Creative Writing Prompt (06:20)

    PostSecret is an amazing ongoing community project where people write their secrets on postcards and mail them in, many to be published in books. Of course, some are racier than others, so you'll have to preview for age-appropriateness, but they can be rich material for starting a story.

More Resources for Teaching Writing

So how do you get your kids excited about writing? There are loads of ways. One of my favorites is writing prompts -- here's a list of wonderful video writing prompts from TeachHub. Or you can get creative and use PostSecrets or Letters of Note (a collection of fascinating primary source correspondence) as fodder. There are also incredible free programs like Storybird, where kids can create digital books, and online writing communities like Figment, where students can find an audience for their work. However you do it, encourage your students to write, today and every day!

Organizations Participating in National Day on Writing

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