If you haven't heard of it, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It's a time for buckling down, setting some word count writing goals, and spitting out an entire novel in one month's time. While I admire anyone who can actually do this (and it would require almost 2000 words a day!) while holding down a full-time job, I think the idea behind it is too good to waste on just, you know, authors. So, I've adapted the idea to implement a NaNoWriMo type of event in my school.
Since I'm wearing the hat of "writing coach" now, I feel it's my duty (much to the groans of my already over-worked and overwhelmed colleagues) to introduce great writing opportunities for them to use in their classrooms. The school is a Kindergarten through 8th grade school, but with some adjustments, we've now got ourselves a November Writing Challenge.
The Kinders are working on their letters, so their goal per day is to work on certain letters. They'll track their progress on a chart that they'll display in the hallway. If they can practice 2 letters a day, for example, we can probably have them writing their names legibly on papers by the time the holidays roll around!
First and second graders are working on sentence structure. They have goals to write (x) number of sentences per day. They'll keep track of what they write as a class (See? Throwing some math in there as well!) and will keep track of their number of sentences each day to see how many they write by the end of the month.
Middle grades, 3-5, are working on stories. They'll be tracking word count, and will try to reach personal goals. Since the students in these grade levels have writing binders, they'll have individual trackers to keep a word count per day. They also use chromebooks which allow for easy access to word count totals. The chart is just a November calendar that they'll keep in their binder, and they will write their own daily numbers on it. Some of the more confident writers will commit to a word count per day, and others will just simply track what they do. Either way, they are writing, and that is what counts.
Our Middle School students, grades 6-8, will be writing stories and tracking word count. One of our Common Core Writing Standards is to "write routinely over extended time frames". Well, here is a perfect opportunity for that. I'm most excited about the 7th and 8th graders - they will be attempting to end the month with a long story that may reach novella length!
Oh, and the teachers? They aren't passive observers in all of this. In the middle of our main hallway will be a chart to track their progress as they write each day as well. Hey, we walk the talk in our school. Good sports, all of us, allowing everyone to watch as we color in the squares indicating that we have or haven't been reaching our individual goals each day. (As if we don't have enough pressure grading papers on time, right? *wink*)
Each of the classrooms will celebrate on November 30. And they should. If we can get our students excited about writing, and they improve through this challenge, then the effort put into this event will have been well worth it.
Pictures will be posted of how we tracked, and how we did. Stay tuned!