Thursday, July 30, 2009

Proposal for National Day on Writing

“Celebrate Charleston through Writing”

We're proposing that the LWP host events to celebrate the National Day on Writing. Let us know if you want to get involved!


Students will enter a writing contest "Celebrate Charleston through Writing" in which students will write about Charleston, teachers will choose the best ones to nominate, and then the winners will read at a special event on October 20th, the National Day on Writing.

“Celebrate Charleston through Writing” allows teachers to create assignments that will elicit a wide variety of research and writing skills. Students might engage in traditional, library-based research using primary or secondary sources, they might conduct interviews with friends or relatives, or they might conduct first-person research by visiting a location or participating in an activity. They could use this information in a variety of documents; for example, Standards E4-5.2, E4-5.3, and E4-5.4 list the following genres as samples: personal essay, memoir, narrative poem, personal essay, travel writing, restaurant review, editorial, essay, speech, and report.

A single activity could, of course, lead to a variety of kinds of writing. For example, a student might attend a Battery, Riverdogs, or Stingrays game, then write a narrative (of the experience), a description (of the game, the venue, the team, or the crowd), a persuasive piece (about ticket prices, the behavior of the fans, the quality of the event, or the comfort of the seats), or even write a report (on the team history, on the relation of minor-league sports to the big leagues, or on the promotional strategies used to attract fans). The document might take the form of a letter, a brochure, a report, a poem, a video, or even a web page.

The assignments will meet state standards. In every grade from first through twelfth, according to the standards, “The student will write for a variety of purposes and audiences” (Standard 1-5; Standard E4-5). Research skills are also important in all twelve grades: “The student will access and use information from a variety of sources” (Standard 1-6; Standard E4-6). Although the level of sophistication increases with grade level, students at all grade levels need to find information from a variety of sources and use that information in written documents created for different audiences and different purposes.

The SC ELA standards for 2008 ( are based on the following guiding principles:

1. An effective English language arts curriculum is framed within the context of a community of learners
2. Learning in English language arts is recursive.
3. Reading, writing, communication, and research are interdependent.
4. An effective English language arts curriculum provides strategic and purposeful instruction in reading and writing.
5. Oral language and expression is foundational to literacy learning and development.
6. An effective English language arts curriculum uses literature from a variety of cultures and eras.
7. An effective English language arts curriculum emphasizes writing as a centerpiece of the school curriculum.
8. An effective English language arts curriculum utilizes all forms of media to prepare students to live in an information-rich society.
9. An effective English language arts curriculum emphasizes informational text that is relevant to our increasingly complex and technological world.
10. An effective English language arts curriculum teaches the strategies necessary for independent learning.

We (the Lowcountry Writing Project) would develop a list of genres in which students could submit their work. Teachers could choose to assign work in particular genres or let students choose their own categories. Each category would be divided in age groups, creating a matrix of categories. For example, the matrix might look like this:

Gr. K-2 Gr. 3-5 Gr. 6-8 Gr. 9-12
Web page
(any genre)
(any genre)

Participating teachers, using their own class-specific criteria, would select “winning” entries for each class and grade level; depending on the level of participation, we might have only one entry per school, or we might have grade-level entries, or even allow schools to submit one entry for each genre. If participation is high, we would encourage schools to have school-level readings, and maybe to publish school-level anthologies, to allow as many students as possible to be published and to read their work in a public setting.

Students would write and revise in August and early September, using a time-table that would allow schools to submit entries by the end of September. LWP teachers would then select winners for each grade level and genre to present their work in a public event on the National Day on Writing, October 20. Again depending on the number of entries, we might display multiple submissions in each category.

The focus of this event would be on the students and their work, but we would invite local, state and national politicians to lend their weight to the event to stress the importance of writing. We would invite, for example, Mayor Riley, Governor Sanford, Congressman Clyburn, and Senators Graham and DeMint. To pump up student interest, we would also invite some local celebrities to lend their endorsements, say a few words about the importance of writing, and maybe sign some autographs. We hope to get coverage in all the local media.

All the pieces selected for performance and/or presentation at the October 20 event would also be published either online or in an anthology of some sort.

WRITING MARATHON FOR THE TEACHERS AND SUPPORTERS. As a leading up to the event activity, we will sponsor some mini “writing marathons." A regular feature of the Lowcountry Writing Project’s Invitational Summer Institute, these events will give teachers, parents, and other community members an opportunity to experience for themselves the act of using writing to remember, learn about, make sense or, or simply recollect an experience.

Our goal is to have writing groups of 6-10 people each blanket Charleston to write about as many different facets of the area as possible. Using our contacts in the community, we will get free admission to as many site and activities as possible, such as these:

Carriage tours Ghost walks SC Aquarium Historic houses
Churches tour Downtown parks County parks Plantations
Harbor tour Museums Food tour Arts tour
Fort Moultrie Fort Sumter Sports events Theater

Some events, such as a football game or a theater performance, would have set starting times, but others could be designated as “morning” or “afternoon” events, so die-hard writers could sign up for two events. Each group would be led by a professional writer or an LWP Teacher Consultant.

As with the students, each participant could submit a piece of writing based on the activity to our local gallery to showcase Charleston, and to demonstrate how much one can learn about an area by writing about it. We would also create a “local gallery” on the “National Gallery of Writing” web site ( sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English.

If we generate enough corporate support, we’d like to offer a slot free to every “participating” teacher – that is, every teacher whose students wrote something for the National Day on Writing. For everyone else, we would charge a nominal fee – probably $10 – to cover costs of T-shirts and supplies.

We Need . . .

*experienced writers and teacher consultants to lead the various small groups. We would like to have a sports writer, for example, lead a group to the football game at The Citadel, offering tips on sports writing and on interviewing players and coaches after the game. We would like to have a food critic lead the food tour, and a theater critic lead the theater group, offering tips on how to write a review.

*sponsors for individual events: comp tickets to a theater performance, various museums, carriage tours, a ghost walk, a harbor tour, and so on.

*T-shirts: an appropriate “Celebrate Charleston through Writing” logo, plus logos for sponsors.

*readers to help select “winning” submissions. LWP teachers will carry most of the load, but we’d like to have to professional writers and celebrity readers, too.

*advertising to get the word out: public service announcements, print ads, posters for schools and libraries, and whatever else it takes to let the community know about these events.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Create a Local Gallery as Part of the National Gallery of Writing

Why a National Day on Writing?

In light of the significance of writing in our national life, to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives, October 20, 2009, will be celebrated as The National Day on Writing. The National Day on Writing will:

* celebrate the foundational place of writing in Americans' personal, professional, and civic lives.
* point to the importance of writing instruction and practice at every grade level, for every student and in every subject area from preschool through university. (See The Genteel Unteaching of America’s Poor.)
* emphasize the lifelong process of learning to write and composing for different audiences, purposes, and occasions.
* recognize the scope and range of writing done by the American people and others.
* honor the use of the full range of media for composing.
* encourage Americans to write and enjoy and learn from the writing of others.

What is the National Gallery of Writing?

The National Gallery will be a digital archive of compositions accessible to all through a free, searchable website—a living archive of thousands of examples of writing from across the United States.

* Each writer of any age or occupation will be able to submit one composition.
* Writers will include with their composition information about themselves and the reasons they selected and submitted it to the Gallery.
* All sorts of compositions will be accepted, including (but not limited to) electronic presentations, blog posts, documentary clips, poetry readings, “how to” directions, short stories, memos.
* On October 20, 2009, the National Day on Writing, the Gallery will be unveiled for readers.

The National Gallery features three types of display spaces all curated and collected in a variety of galleries:

* The Gallery of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
* The Galleries of National Partners curated by groups as diverse as Google, the Newseum, Sesame Street’s Electric Company, and the National Science Teachers Association.
* The Galleries of Local Partners curated by groups as diverse as a local Girl Scout troop; a town such as Augusta, Arkansas; a community college course; a bridge club; a city such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a writers group, and local business.

Become a Local Partner

Local partners can be any group, including a family, a few good friends, a club or church group, a class, a school, a workplace group, or an entire city who wants to see their work collected together inside the National Gallery. Every local partner needs one key person: a Curator who applies for local partner status and agrees to review all work submitted before it is published. You can see the existing local galleries here.

The Role of a Curator

The Curator is essentially the filter for the Gallery. While all Gallery Curators will be encouraged to be broad-minded and inclusive, they retain the authority to allow pieces to appear in a gallery or not (note: some writing not chosen from a Local Partner or National Partner Gallery will be referred to NCTE for possible inclusion in the Gallery of the National Council of Teachers of English). Curators will have access to online tools that allow them to "feature" a select number of pieces within their Gallery for a period of time. If a Local Partner Curator anticipates a heavy review load, she or he can recruit assistants who will also have access to review tools. Curators will be responsible for completing a review and triggering a review response email within one month of receipt of each submission.

Some members of the local gallery will need to assume certain roles: curator/writing assistant, October 20th event planner, publicity, fun and camaraderie organizer.

Why Should I Consider Starting a Local Partner Gallery for My Group?

For many good reasons:

* It is a way to help your group think more deeply about how, why, when, and where they write, and share ideas or information that is important to them.
* It can evoke pride, or at least a strong bond, as you see what others post to your Local Gallery.
* It can help you sharpen your own thinking about writing and improve as a writer.
* It can broaden your awareness of the perceptions and talents of others—discoveries that are often hidden in everyday writing.

Getting Started

The first thing a prospective local gallery will want to do is hold an organizational meeting. At the this first meeting, they’ll want to:

* Set a name, theme, and brief description of their Gallery.
* Set a timeline for what they want to accomplish.
* Think about creating a blog or email list or phone tree to communicate among the organizers and members.

Name a curator and maybe assistant curator(s).

* Decide who will apply for the local gallery and when.
* If there is/are an assistant curator(s), the curators will want to to discuss how they’ll handle distribution of submissions/load balancing. The curators will need to develop guidelines for reviewing submissions. See NCTE’s guidelines as a model.
* Check out the information for curators as the gallery develops.
* Use the NCTE NING Group for curators to stay in touch with other sites and gather ideas for their site.

Develop a basic PR outreach strategy

* Use the NCTE model to prepare a press release to announce the gallery once it has been approved.
* Decide on the best places to send the release.
* Make a plan for getting members to write for the gallery.
* Write Letters to local media editors;
* Focus media outreach to TV, Radio

Schedule a follow-up meeting to

* Focus on implementing decisions made at first meeting,
* Provide examples of writing that might be submitted to their gallery.
* Talk about ways of celebrating accomplishments of gallery organizers and participants.
* Make a plan for celebrating their group’s participation in the National Gallery of Writing on the National Day on Writing, October 20, 2009.

Guidelines for Choosing the Writing to be Included

While all writers should be able to express themselves and their point of view, certain kinds of writing simply do not belong in the National Gallery of Writing. Therefore, you may not post or link to writing that:

* is obscene, pornographic, or sexually explicit
* depicts graphic or gratuitous violence
* makes threats of any kind or that intimidates, harasses, or bullies anyone
* is derogatory, demeaning, malicious, defamatory, abusive, or hateful

Prohibition of Unlawful or Harmful Content

Although as the host of the National Gallery, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is not responsible for the conduct of writers who post here, we want the National Gallery to be a safe and educative site on the Internet. Therefore, in posting to the Gallery, you may not:

* violate any local, state, national, or international law or post any writing that would encourage or provide instructions for a criminal offense
* impersonate any person or entity or otherwise misrepresent yourself, your age, or your affiliation with any person or entity
* make available any unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation
* All writing submitted to the National Gallery or any Local or Partner Gallery will be reviewed "as is" and will not be modified or amended during the review process.


Recruiting Other Groups

If you’d like to recruit local galleries in your area you can contact groups and invite them to organize and you can volunteer to make a presentation to those groups on why and how to set up a local gallery.

* If the groups are already formally organized groups (e.g. a Boy Scout Troop), you can contact the president or group leader to invite them to organize.
* If the groups are not formally organized (e.g., staff and customers of a local business), look for a leader to get things going. That leader would have these attributes: interested in the project, well-organized, energetic, socially committed, might have a role like newsletter editor.
* You may also want to look for helpers in organizing a local group like local librarians or teachers.
* Think about contacting Americorps, sports organizations, Key Clubs, student clubs and NCTE student affiliates, high tech companies, film Schools or media projects, screen writers guild, Best Buy, Target
* Invite these groups to join together on October 20th for a celebration of the writing on the gallery.

Ideas for Celebrating the National Day on Writing

Host a Family Writing Night.
Students could showcase work using poster sessions, computer lab presentations, etc.
To promote the local celebration, the Partner could run a series of personalized ads including:
Hold a Back-to-School Writing Celebration Night.
Hold a Gallery Open House.
Conduct a Spoken Word/Poetry Slam Celebration.
Hold a Writers’ Showcase or “Composition of the Day” leading up to the National Day.
Invite well-known local/regional writers to share their writing processes and samples of their work at school or local group events.
Create a thematic writing event that focuses on a specific cause—this could include showcase chalk art, people writing on post-its or cut outs that could be posted on a wall or public display, graffiti art, letters to the military, writing about trauma or loss, etc.
Hold a write-in.

Suggestions for where to hold Celebrations and Events:

Senior Citizen Halls/Residences
Coffee Shops
Boys and Girls Clubs
Scout Meetings
Parent/Teacher Nights
Tech Showcases
Back to School Nights or Parent Open-Houses
Community Festivals or Events
Book Club Meetings

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Soul Quick Story Call Out


Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings
101 Stories of Gratitude, Fortitude, and Silver Linings

This follow-on book to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People continues Chicken Soup for the Soul's focus on inspiration and hope in these difficult times. These inspirational stories remind us that each day holds something to be thankful for -- whether it is having the sun shine or having food on the table. Power outages and storms, health scares and illnesses, job woes and financial insecurities, housing challenges and family worries test us all. But there is always a silver lining. The simple pleasures of family, home, health, and inexpensive good times are described.

We are looking for true stories and poems written in the first person of no more than 1,200 words. Stories can be serious or humorous, or both. They should not have been previously published by Chicken Soup for the Soul or other major publications.

Here are a few suggested topics:

How you count your blessings or express your gratitude
What made you realize that your life is good and that you are grateful
Silver linings that you have discovered in the midst of challenging events
What is really valuable in your life
Major life changes or events for which you are grateful
How you spread the message of gratitude to your family and friends
The joy of simple pleasures
The unexpected benefits of health challenges or other life changes

This book is in the process of being completed and will go to the printer in September for publication in October! It is a featured Chicken Soup for the Soul title for Christmas 2009. The deadline for submissions is soon, so if you can submit quickly you have a better chance than normal of being chosen.
If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story.