NaNoWriMo: What can I expect from my students during November?

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Rory’s Story Cubes http://www.storycubes.com/

 

 

You can expect just about everything from “I quit” on the first day to the parent who comes to you concerned that her child is “writing too much.”

 

Goal is Too Big?

Some students will realize how overwhelming it can be. All of the sudden they think their goal is way too big. Just remind them to break it down. How much is that goal per day? Can they add just a couple of words each day and actually be ahead? Is it horrible if they don’t make their goal? No. There is no punishment for “losing” NaNoWriMo. It’s fun, though sometimes a pain!

 

Story Has Stopped

Every student (in my experience) will “hit the wall.” I like to warn them that it will happen and then have some remedies. This is when you’re writing along and . . . BAM. The story just stops. The pencil that scratched along merrily, now refuses to write even one word. Here are three things you can do with the stopped student:

  • Roll the dice. Get or make a set of story cubes. I like to use Rory’s Story Cubes. I put them out where students can use them. They choose just a few dice, usually, and roll them. Then, looking at the pictures, they see if a story idea appears. It almost always does. If not, they roll again.
  • Tell them to write anything. Yes, anything. They can interrupt the story and say what they had for lunch, or have the main character start singing the Star Spangled Banner. One of my students last year had his character recite all the books of the Bible. That act of “breaking the rules” can be fun and “unstick” the story.
  • Add something. Give them a specific idea, like “Why don’t you think about adding a hippo?” or “How would you add a new location to your story? Maybe they go to a water park!” Usually the suggestion of an addition is enough to get the wheels turning again.

 

I’ll list more ideas for supporting and motivating your students in my next NaNoWriMo blog post.

What do you do to help students get “unstuck?”
 
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