Caitlin here. I just wanted to let you know a little secret: Kids love writing.
(And yes, they can be bribed to do so with leftover Halloween candy.)
If you visit us here often, or are an educator who loves National Novel Writing Month as much as I do, you probably know about NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program. Though I’m not a full-fledged teacher yet, I decided to start my own virtual classroom for middle schoolers, YWP Mat-Su, on the site this year. It was as much for the Mat-Su Borough students I’ve come to know while substitute teaching over the last year as it was for me; I finished a novel in November 2015, but I have at least four more waiting to be fully written. What better way to find the motivation than to surround myself with young students who are experiencing NaNoWriMo for the very first time?
After plastering 20-some posters around the Palmer-Wasilla area of the Valley during the month of October, we (myself and two middle school teachers) hosted an info meeting this past Monday, and our first official write-in at Colony Middle School on Wednesday, November 1. We have 11 signed up and at least eight have started their stories with various goals in mind (the other three have not updated their word counts yet, probably because they are writing some place other than the site, which auto-updates for you). One girl is already schooling me on the way to her goal of 20,000 words.
Though, on day three, I don’t have quite as many words down as I’d like, I’m definitely more excited about writing with these young’uns beside me. With goals from 500 to 50,000 words, I’m confident we’re all going to make great strides in our writing volume by the end of the month.
If you’re hosting your own virtual classroom this November, let us know! All of us at AWP would love to know how many students you’ve engaged and what your group’s goals are. Tell us what has or has not worked well for you and your students, or let us help you get started on a project now! It’s never too late to begin.