I plan to encourage my students to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year. For those of you who aren't familiar, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It's the month where tell your inner-editor to hush so you can just let the ideas flow on to the page. It's about getting something done without worrying how perfect it is, because you can always go back and revise in December.
Last year, as October drew to a close, I introduced NaNoWriMo to my class. I explained the premise, and gave them the option of taking on the challenge. We talked about word count goals and commitment to writing outside of the classroom. Then the fun started. Student after student signed up, each cheering each other on as they dedicated themselves to writing a book. In the end, I think all but two students decided to participate. We had weekly lunch meetings where students could eat and share their writing with friends, and although not all students met their goals, they definitely started to find their voices as authors.
The Young Writers Program for NaNoWriMo has some great teaching materials to get your students psyched for NaNoWriMo and to teach them about narrative writing in general. You can check out their website at http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/. In addition, there's still time to order a NaNoWriMo classroom kit which comes with a student goal setting poster, NaNoWriMo stickers to track progress toward a goal, and buttons for those students who participate or finish. The classroom kit is free (and awesome), but they request a $10 donation for the materials -- a small price to pay to get your students excited about writing.
In honor of NaNoWriMo, I'll be hosting a month-long link-up that will start on November 1 and run the duration of NaNoWriMo. Whether your class officially participates in NaNoWriMo or not, I hope you'll join me in sharing the great writing work that's happening in your class. Grab the button, spread the word, and meet me back here on November 1st for a writing extravaganza!
In the meantime, check out the Educators' section of the Young Writers Project. I'm sure you'll find plenty to get you (and your students) excited for a month full of creative writing!