Celebrate the National Day on Writing

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Congress has declared October 20, 2012 the National Day on Writing! Across the country schools, OST programs and communities will be celebrating the importance of writing, particularly for America’s young people.

A number of resources are available for afterschool programs interested in celebrating National Writing Day, and integrating writing and literacy into Project-Based Learning. The National Gallery of Writing offers students an opportunity to read written work in every imaginable format. Last year, the New York Times collaborated with students and educators to blog National Writing Day, and students interested in participating can also find the Writing Day hashtag on Twitter. The National Writing Project also has a number of tips and resources available for use in classrooms.

Afterschool programs considering a literacy-based Culminating Event for their project could:

1) Make a cookbook: If students are studying culinary arts, a cookbook is a great opportunity to incorporate writing. Students can research recipes online or through conversations with family members, and compile a cookbook that includes not only the recipes, but descriptions of the food, and even historical background about different cooking styles and implements.

2) Write a kid-friendly textbook: Project-Based Learning emphasizes deep learning, and mastery of subject matter by students. What better way to demonstrate this content mastery than to teach the material to others? Moreover, by writing their own textbook, students are given the opportunity to think critically about what aspects of the school day they do and don’t enjoy, and why.

3) Write the rule book for a sport they created: Many sites are interested in incorporating sports and physical activity into PBL, but struggle to integrate rich academic content into a sports-themed project. In a physical activity-based project, students could create their own sport, taking care to think critically about the components of a sport or game, and what makes sports and games fun. Ultimately students could write a rule book for this sport, and host a tournament or competition where other young people could play their sport.

4) Publish a collection of poems, essays or stories: A number of webservices are now available, for low or no cost, for writers interested in self-publication. Knowing that their work will be published, and may even be purchased, raises the stakes for student writers. Students could present their published work at a book reading or book signing for parents and the community, a perfect Culminating Event opportunity.

These writing activities, and many others, provide great opportunities to integrate literacy into Project-Based Learning!

by: Jason Schwalm

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