What does NaNoWriMo in the classroom look like now?
It’s optional, but many students meet me for Nano lunches and do fun, creative activities. They tell me they’re at 80% of their goal and loving it! Even the ones who aren’t doing so well, enjoy the creative exercises we do when we meet. And, they’re not that complicated! Last week, I had students do writing sprints (sometimes with a writing prompt, other times with certain restrictions.) I also had them roll the story cubes and make up on-the-spot stories as fast as they could (spoken.) I think the shortest one we had was in 12 seconds! They enjoyed being creative, and that was the main thing I was attempting.
Now is when I’m really checking in with everyone. I don’t make them check in with me every day, because it would be tiresome for me and gives them some freedom. But, now, if they haven’t checked in at all (and there are some that haven’t!) I do pester them a bit. I ask them how they’re doing and tell them they need to check in. I think I’m going to tell the last holdouts that they can’t come to our party at the end unless they do some kind of checking in. I reward any kind of effort, but I like to know they didn’t just sign up for the party.
I’ve given out microwave popcorn bags, pencils, sticky paper pads, and fun erasers — little things like that can really motivate the kids who aren’t doing well. They might be really far behind, but at least they got a new pencil. They do have to earn it, though. I’ve been giving them away with my little writing contests (word sprints) during our Nano lunches.
Encouragement and Commiseration
I’m pretty honest with the kids. I’ve never won a NaNoWriMo. Never. When they get to this point of the month and realize all their slacking or maybe overenthusiastic goal setting means they can’t get their goal, I talk to them. I tell them that I have quit trying to get 50,000 words, but I haven’t quit writing. I am not a loser, because I tried, and I haven’t officially quit. I encourage them to keep going. Maybe they change their goal to writing a little every day instead of focusing on their official goal number. Or, maybe they just finish the story and don’t worry about how long it is. They still have their official goals, and the big chart will show that they didn’t reach their goal, but we’re going to celebrate anyway!
Prepare for the Party
I need to set up a date and make sure we have a room to host our party. We’ll probably keep it to their lunch time, so that the time is limited, and they bring their own food. I will bring ice cream, bowls, and spoons. They’ll bring toppings.
I have a few prizes here, but to be honest, I was hoping that some parents would contribute to the prizes. I asked. I sent a note home. I haven’t received even one thing. So, I probably won’t do prizes this year. And, if they “forget” to bring sundae toppings to our party, then they just get ice cream. As much as I’d love to have a big party, I am doing this as a volunteer. I have a very small budget. I think the time and energy I give is worth a lot, so I don’t worry too much about our little party. I still have almost a week, so we’ll see what happens!
Do you have questions or suggestions about using NaNoWriMo in the classroom?