WAC Celebrates National Day on Writing 2018

This year, our National Day on Writing celebration was a bit more familiar but no less exciting. According to the NCTE website, the National Day on Writing is a day to recognize all forms of writing, built on “the premise that writing is critical to literacy but needs greater attention and celebration.” This mission is one near and dear to our hearts. So, with tweets prepped, pens at the ready, and sticky notes shining brightly in the sun, we were ready to call attention to the diverse voices of the Mason community as they let us know their thoughts on writing.  


A bit differently than last year, we set up our booths in the atrium of Fenwick Library and in the JC South Plaza. Our WAC team kicked the day off right, writing a few sticky notes themselves and placing them on the poster boards or glass windows, respectively. Then, as the morning wore on and people stopped by, we asked them to tell us why, when, what, where, or how they write. Their answers? Varied and written in Sharpie on our colorful sticky notes. Even good old George, campus’ most famous writer, got into the writing spirit.

Note by note, the windows and boards were filling up! At Fenwick, we even started running out of room inside. So our team of volunteers decided to place some of the answers on the outside of the library. They talked with students and professors alike; they even met a couple of dogs along the way!

Like we’ve been seeing in our Writers of Mason profiles, the writers we met at NDOW demonstrated just how diverse our campus’ writing culture is.  Certainly, some of the notes repeated similar ideas, but others took us by surprise. Here are some samples of what people shared:

  • #whyIwrite: to express my ideas, to share my passion and give some to others, quoting Aeschylus, to tell the truth and tell stories of those who aren’t able to, to better understand the world, because my voice is heard 10x more when it’s on paper, to outpour an expression of my soul,
  • #whatIwrite: stories, scientific purposes, 100 emails a day, self-exploration, creative stories, prayers to God, about my cancer experience, my sanity, music and lyrics, haikus, grant proposals, social media posts, YA fiction,
  • #howIwrite: without writing there would be no heroes, creating new life, all at once, with pretty pens and tea, with so so much coffee, collaboratively, transforming what already exists into something new,
  • #whenIwrite: between 8 and 10 p.m., everyday and in so many ways, with a deadline approaching, inspiration hits, in the middle of the night, right when I get up, in a blind panic, early in the morning when no one is around to bother me,  escribo cuando estoy aburrido
  • #whereIwrite: in a blue moleskin, at home, on the couch with my laptop, into the universe, in Fenwick library, everywhere but the toilet, in my mind, at the park near my house, Gathering Grounds coffee shop

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In addition to these hashtags, we had fantastic engagement online all week! The WAC team had the privilege of taking over Mason’s official Twitter account (@georgemasonu) for the week to spread messages about the NDOW, writing tips in general, and specifics about writing at Mason. Each day, we tweeted every 30 minutes during business hours, making sure everyone had the chance to view the writing world at Mason. We tweeted almost 100 times the entire week thanks to help from the Mason community. However, the NDOW was a huge day for social media engagement and proved to be the most prolific. We tweeted a total of 58 times that day through Mason’s twitter, cross publishing with WAC’s twitter (@thewritingcampus). With replies and mentions, Mason’s engagement across all accounts was upwards of 250 tweets for the day.

Some of our favorite tweets included:

  • the use of our lego sets to replicate the inside of an MFA workshop and establish a swashbuckling writer ship
  • one professor’s appeal to writing, Broadway, and Hamilton
  • photos of the visit from over 40 middle school children from Oyster Adams Bilingual School in Adams Morgan, Washington D.C.
  • one volunteer’s haiku on the National Day on Writing

Our favorite post of the day had to be one by Mason’s president, Angel Cabrera. He posted a picture of himself holding up a sign saying “Scribo ergo sum” which translated from Latin means, “I write, therefore, I am.” His engagement was the highlight of our day and showcases the appreciation the administration has for the work we are doing within the wider academic community.  


All of this couldn’t have been possible without the help of some dedicated volunteers either; a bevy of tutors from the writing center, faculty from the Composition program and the Stearns Center joined us. By the end of the day, we were all tired but we had a lot of fun talking with people across campus about writing. We can’t wait until next year’s National Day on Writing!


Reading Research as a Process (in the Sciences)

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As we have written throughout this semester, many challenges that students encounter with writing stem from difficulties with reading.  These difficulties range across disciplines, but each discipline might face its own set of challenges.  The problem many faculty in the sciences experience, writes Laura Davies in her article on teaching reading in science courses, is that often “students regard scientific texts as collections of facts.”  Thus, Davies says, students engage articles purely for content and can overlook how that content engages in broader disciplinary conversations and practices, which are often critical for entering into a disciplinary community.  So, how do we help students read for more than facts? Continue reading

Reading Like a Writer


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Earlier in the semester, we shared some resources that focused on using annotations and other strategies to support reading.  The general intent of these strategies is to prompt students to engage more deeply and mindfully with their reading.  In our post on “mindful reading,” we mentioned that effective readers often read for specific purposes that shape the way they engage the texts they are reading.  For instance, if readers want to gain a general understanding of a text, they might skim it by noting the title, reading the introduction and conclusion, and browsing the main sections.  But what if we have a different purpose?  What if we are engaging a text not for its content but for its structure? Continue reading

Scientists Talk about Reading Research

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Earlier in the semester, we shared a few resources to support the ways in which faculty teach reading in (writing-intensive) courses.  While literacy scholars and reading teachers suggest a variety of useful strategies to help students engage with their reading more deeply, one of the most commonly offered recommendations urges faculty to talk and model productive reading practices.  That is why today we are sharing an article that does just that: interviews scientists about their reading practices.  Continue reading

Join Professor Gesa Kirsch and WAC Mason Tomorrow

Dr. Gesa Kirsch, Professor of English and Media Studies at Bentley University, will join WAC Mason for a discussion of “The Advocacy, Activism, and Rhetorical Savvy of Dr. Mary Bennet Ritter, MD, and her Contemporaries.”  Dr. Kirsch will explore Dr. Ritter’s life and legacy, trace her cohort of women physicians, and examine the role of the Woman’s Medical Journal in creating and sustaining a large professional network of early (mostly white) women physicians.

The talk will be held at 2:00pm in Johnson Center Room F on Mason’s Fairfax Campus.  It will be followed by a reception at 3:30 and a coffee hour for graduate students at 4:00pm.


Kirsch Colloquium - Advocacy, Activism, and Rhetorical Savy

Study: Peer Review Increases Impact of Published Scholarship

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Tomorrow afternoon, the WAC Program is sponsoring a talk at Fall for the Book on “The Future of Academic Writing and Publishing.”  The talk will feature five panelists who will consider how academic publishing is currently evolving and how scholars and editors might respond to that continuing evolution.  One facet of this evolution concerns the prevalence of metrics that quantify the “impact” of a given article or journal.  While impact metrics have been critiqued for a number of reasons, their use has remained prevalent, perhaps increasingly so.  And that prevalence lead researchers John Rigby, Deborah Cox, and Keith Julian to wonder what impact factor metrics might reveal about academic writing beyond the circulation of a particular text.  Continue reading

Join WAC at Fall for the Book


Writing Across the Curriculum is proud to sponsor “The Future of Academic Writing and Publishing,” a special event at George Mason’s annual Fall for the Book festivalPanelists Adam Winsler, Emily Green, John Warren, Laura Poms, and Doug Eyman will consider how academic writing has changed to reflect digital landscapes, diverse audiences, and new publishing platforms.  This multidisciplinary panel will also contemplate recent challenges to definitions of academic writing and how we might anticipate further changes in coming decades.

Please join us Thursday October 11, 2018 at 4:30pm on the 3rd floor of the Johnson Center in Meeting Room G.

FftB Flyer - Academic Publishing


Strategies to Support Mindful Reading

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Since we are still feeling inspired by the Stearns Center’s fantastic conference and its theme of “Small Changes, Big Impact,” we thought that we’d share a few more ways to support reading in the writing classroom.  This week, however, we are offering a more complete resource with a series of useful reading strategies that we can teach to our students. Continue reading

Using Annotations to Support Reading

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In our last post, we highlighted the need for faculty to think more intentionally about the ways in which they support student reading, particularly in college writing courses.  This might sound like it requires large-scale changes in teaching, but it doesn’t have to: we can start small.   In fact, the theme of this year’s Innovations in Teaching and Learning (ITL) Conference should help us realize that: “Small Changes, Big Impact.”  With that theme in mind and the conference just two days away(!), we thought that we would share a small change that can help us better support our students’ engagement with reading. Continue reading