NaNoWriMo in the Classroom
NaNoWriMo is a movement. A barrage of tweets. A month of wordsmithing. And it is SO MUCH FUN.
Let me tell you about my ten-year-old son. He struggled with reading early in elementary school which translated to poor writing skills in his later elementary years. Then something changed. He had amazing teachers and we all worked together to help him improve while maintaining his love for the process. And you know what happened? He now sees himself as a writer. He loves the freedom and creativity of writing and it warms my mama heart like you can't believe.
So let's how you can use National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to instill that same confidence in your students. And do you want to know the best part? The foks at NaNoWriMo have created a TON of resources and lessons for you to use in the classroom. Yep. They're divided into elementary, middle, and high school documents. Wait. There is an even better part! The materials are GOOD! I'm talking quality lessons that are engaging and capture the important parts of writing. Not the typical "extension" activities listed at the bottom of your textbook. No, no. These are activities that are tied to your writing standards and that you and your students will love!
If I still had my own classroom (and NaNoWriMo makes me want one!), I would print out a calendar of November. I'm old school and like the paper, okay? Then I would fill in all of the things that will interfere with me doing what I want to do (i.e., holidays, field trips, pep rally schedules, etc.). Then I would plan out the order NaNoWriMo lessons, modifying based on my students' needs, and build in time for writing. Finally, I would fill in any gaps with additional lessons that would benefit my learners. Simple.
So why should you incorporate NaNoWriMo into your ELA course? The process of writing is hard, but it's so much easier and more fun when you have a system of support. The NaNoWriMo movement allows you to transform your language arts/English classroom into a place where writers go - because for the month of November (and hopefully beyond) that's what we are.
Even the most reluctant of writers will come around. Sure it's difficult at first, but everything worthwhile is. The lessons that are provided will help you and your students break down what it takes to write a narrative in clear and objective snippets. No longer is writing something that just comes to you, but it's something that we all can do. And while we are writing, we are also stretching our capacity to be creative, to outline, to apply the elements of writing, and to be gritty. After all, grit is the combination of perseverance and passion, elements that every writer (and human being) needs.
What if your students don't want to be writers? That's okay. I'm taking a guess here, but I think science classes are full of non-scientists doing experiments. And gyms are full of non-athletes. And choir is full of sweet kids who can't hold a tune. But you know what? There are also a handful who, as a result of your tenacity and dedication to your discipline, will think, "Huh. That chemical reaction was kind of cool." Or, "I really don't hate running like I thought I did." Or, "Did she learn how to do those directive hand motion things in college or is she just waving her hands around randomly?" Regardless of the nonsense, they learn and understand and appreciate. And with the NaNoWriMo online community and your classroom full of writers, they don't have to do it alone.
Here is the link to the educator side of NaNoWriMo.
And, because I know that you are going to want to participate yourself, here is the public side of the website.