5 things need to be in place for a successful NaNoWriMo rollout in class.
- As Dave Burgess would put it, you need to pre-heat the grill. Avoid telling students they will be spending the month of November writing a novel. Tempt them with tidbits. “Have you ever written a novel?” “I wonder who is up
for a challenge.” “Anyone heard of NaNoWriMo?” Be vague. Don’t respond to their follow up questions inquiring why you want to know. Let the students wonder and anticipate the next bit of information you let slip out.
- Students need a lot of story to tell. Loads and loads of words and sentences need to be ready to roll off their fingers right on November 1. Your role is to get them thinking, planning, mentally revising so much that when November 1 comes around the floodgates are unleashed! The Young Writers Program NaNoWriMo site has digital workbooks that are thorough to the point that the classroom teacher would have to set aside about three weeks of curriculum time to use all of the resources. Not having the luxury of that much time I pick and choose. This year my students wrote their ideas in PowerPoint in Office 365 so that those resources would be in the same OneDrive folder as their writing.
- Set writing goals. The students are practicing writing for extended periods of time. The NaNoWriMo part is just a bonus. View this as a Couch to 5K race. Create a calendar with the number of minutes students are to write in class each day. Silent Sustained Writing is the plan. Post the calendars around your room and in any online tool you use with your class. My calendars are in Schoology, the front of the room and along the side wall. You want the students to notice this everywhere.
- Prizes! We love motivation and prizes! Remember there are some things only you can give them. I give students writing a novel the daily 10 minutes dedicated to typing skills. Specific word goals are also used with even better prizes. The buttons from the YWP are coveted.
- Inspiration from other authors. Search NaNoWriMo on YouTube to discover a whole world of excitement you didn’t even know exists. People are passionate about this writing challenge. Passionate! And they vlog about it. That energy is infectious. Bring it into your classroom and see who it touches.