University’s Center on Writing hosts first National Day on Writing

Schools and colleges nation-wide celebrated the diversity of writing Tuesday, which was declared by the United States Senate.
University junior Thomas DeMarco makes his contribution to National Day on Writing on a typewriter Tuesday in Nicholson Hall.
October 20, 2009

The University of Minnesota participated in the National Day on Writing on Tuesday with activities, short seminars and an interactive writing display to recognize the impact of writing on students. The display in Nicholson Hall focused on using writing with modern technology like blogs and webcasts.
Declared by the U.S. Senate and sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the day was celebrated by schools and colleges nationwide.
“When we found out about it, we thought it would be a good idea to celebrate writing with students,” said Heather Mendygral, a first-year writing program assistant for the Department of Writing Studies. “This is a way to give students the venue to share their writing with the world and write for a bigger audience.”
The interactive writing display had writing stations such as the “Ink Spill,” which asked students to write their thoughts on a large writing pad and then post it up on a wall. The “Writing Pod,” a computer connected to a webcam, allowed students to respond to questions like, “What does writing mean to you?” The answers they typed were broadcast online.
“Some people are baffled, others are reticent,” said Tim Gustafson, associate director of the first-year writing program. “The Writing Pod is a way of having fun opportunities for people to write. Some might say serious things about writing, some may not.”
Tim Dougherty , a second-year writing studies graduate student, said some students were reluctant to participate.
“It feels public to have your face and words displayed to the whole world,” he said. But he said students passing by between classes seemed interested.
The National Day on Writing is part of a larger initiative by the NCTE to recognize the diversity of writing and how it’s changing, said Millie Davis , NCTE director of communications.
The online National Gallery of Writing, created by the NCTE, displays more than 10,000 writings voluntarily posted by schools and individuals around the world. Davis said the documents include essays, videos, blog pieces and conversations from social networking sites.
“We think people are writing more now because of the technological tools available, and they’re writing differently,” she said. Researchers will analyze the documents to provide teachers with better resources to help students with their writing.

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