Why WAC is Really About Collaboration and Touching Interests beyond Your Content Area.

Why WAC is Really About Collaboration and Touching Interests beyond Your Content Area.

As Sheryl Bone and I put the final changes on our presentation for the International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference in Savannah, we are focusing on how National Novel Writing Month can be used to sustain WAC.  National Novel Writing Month is an annual challenge to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and 30 each year. You can learn more at http://www.nanowrimo.org/. The organization also sponsors the Young Writer’s Program and Camp NaNoWriMo, which kicks off on Friday.

Our goal is to inspire educators in fields outside of Composition and Writing to use NaNoWrimo or NaNoWrimo like activities (give a word count, a format, a set length of time, and make it creative) to help students demonstrate mastery of outcomes. We’re actually planning a break out activity that gives small groups a course and an outcome and asks them to create a bare bones creative writing assignment using the NaNoWrimo Model.

I happened to give in example in the presentation of using several short stories from a first-person perspective to describe how different earthquake faults produce different types of quakes.  I’m not even close to being a seismologist, but I happened to have been in a seismology lab on the morning of the Mexico City Quake and I have intimate knowledge of the 1989 Loma Priata Quake (the one that stopped the World Series).  A few years ago, I drove to St. Louis for USDLA and made it my mission to stop at several places mentioned in 8.4 – a novel about what would happen if the New Madrid Seismic Zone threw off a seismic triple the way it did in 1811 -1812.

In Paducah, KY, the town history center was readying an exhibition on the quakes. I poked my head in to ask where the best coffee in the area was and noticed a copy of 8.4 in a display case. I mentioned it to the woman operating the desk and she asked how much I knew about the quakes.  I admitted I read a great deal about them – they rang church bells in Richmond and were felt in Montreal. She took an hour of her valuable time to show me everything they had collected for the exhibit.

As I was working on some parts of the presentations, a link on the importance of storytelling in STEM came across my Twitter feed.


Immediately I thought, I have brilliant colleagues in other disciplines. So I cast a net and sent emails to social science, science, math, and other content area faculty asking for course and outcome suggestions.

I’m going to ask the same from you all. The course should not be writing or literature course, but any other content works. The outcome should be one that supporters of WAC can use to develop a rough assignment from, perhaps with a little help from Google.

So, there you go. What do you have for me?


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