Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, is traveling the country talking about the power of literature to inspire hope and change. For the National Day on Writing® she invites us all to consider the role our own words can play in doing the same through an exploration of her equation: Writing = Hope x Change.
Though a series of short video clips and accompanying activities, you can bring her message and her call to action into your own classroom for a celebration of what our words can do. These videos were all recorded during a 2018 visit to School of the Future in Manhattan, New York, where Jacqueline led a talk and discussion with a class of middle school students.
Special thanks to Lakisha Odlum and her eighth-grade students for collaborating with us on this project. Thanks also to Barbara Phillips and Lauren Zucker who, along with Lakisha, contributed to these resources.
What is a Write-In?
In a Write-In, a group of people gather to write and share what they have written together. Action-oriented write-ins involve writing collectively about a common topic or issue. But writers also get together for write-ins just for the experience of writing in community with others.
The resources shared here are intended to support a classroom write-in in which you use these video clips from Jacqueline Woodson as a catalyst to inspire your own writing.
You may choose to watch these short videos all in one class period and reflect and write about them all together, or you may wish to break them up over a span of days. The resources we provide are not meant to be prescriptive, but to offer a plethora of options from which you can pick and adapt things to meet your students’ needs.
Spread the Word
We invite you to share the work you and your classes do around writing by posting to the hashtag #WhyIWrite on October 20–21. If your students are old enough to share their own work, encourage them to us the hashtag as well. If you share any pictures or pieces of writing from your classes, please be sure to obtain permission from the students and their guardians.
The Three Videos
Video 1: Why I Write
Jacqueline Woodson talks about why she writes, her process, and why it’s important for us all to share our words.
Video 2: Writing = Hope x Change
Jacqueline Woodson explains the “equation” that fuels her work and how it plays out in the books she writes. She reads an excerpt from Each Kindness and points to the moment of change in that story that propels it forward. She concludes with a call to action, inviting us all to tell our stories of hope and change.
Video 3: What will your words change?
Jacqueline Woodson shares an excerpt from her most recent book Harbor Me, centered on a group of middle school students, and discusses how as writers we can create change by questioning the narrative we see around us and sharing the truth of our own stories.