Saturday, September 12, 2015


Understanding the Author's Craft by Writing

My school has started a Data Team that is in charge of analyzing the data that we receive from exams and letting us know what we should try to focus more on in our classes. I am not going to lie, this scared me a bit when they started (am I just going to be teaching to the test?), but for the most part, what they have told us are things I focus on anyways, now I just have to add a note to my Haiku saying, "We are focusing on __________ because of _______________."

One of the areas they feel students need more exposure is analyzing the author's craft. I am pretty excited because I have wanted to justify using the National Novel Writing Month's Young Writer's Program, commonly known as NaNoWriMo YWP, in my classroom and now I can.

NaNoWriMo is so easy it is almost hard to explain. Essentially, it is an idea that anyone who wants to write a novel can sit down and do it in a month. For the adult's program, on November 1, participants start writing with the goal of hitting the 50,000-word mark by 11:59 PM on November 30.

NaNoWriMo also has a Young Writer's Program specifically for students!! For students, they can set their own word limit, making it achievable at any age.

My NaNoWriMo
There's a teacher's kit you can buy / get for free (depending on their supply and your location) that comes with
  • An awesome poster for your classroom where students can chart their novelling progress
  • 35 stickers that say "Contents Extremely Imaginative" (great for laptops or binders)
  • 35 "I Novel" NaNoWriMo buttons 
  • One Writer's Emergency Kit (Fun for speaking activities and downtime in class)
But that's not all! There are some different workbooks (for different school levels)  you can download for free or purchase for $10. It goes through some fun ways to introduce your students to plot, setting, characters etc. They also have some lesson plans developed for Kindergartners through High School Seniors.

I won't be using these exactly. I'll be adjusting them so that we can use them to discuss the characters we have read about and analyze how the author has used the skills and methods we are learning about (as well as use them on their own).

I contemplated doing this on Haiku, but I think I will be using the website they have set up where my students can sign up, get motivational speeches, and track their word count. I can also give them announcements etc.

The best part, if your students meet the goal, then they get a voucher to get free copies of their book published and mailed to them. AWESOME motivation.

This will be my first year rocking it, but I'll be sure to post any amazing lessons I come up with while this goes on, and expect a post in December about how it went.

If you've ever done this before or have any pointers, comments below! If you're a newbie like me and you also teach high school, maybe our students could Skype or otherwise collaborate?

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