Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

11/Oct/2011
by Denise Krebs
1 Comment

NaNoWriMo YWP – Students Reminisce

I am writing a series of blog posts about NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, but it made sense to start with more opinions than just mine.Β  So here, without commentary, are reflections and advice from students who wrote their first novel in November, 2010.


I think that writing a novel was great because it taught me that I can be a writer if I want to be a writer. The most rewarding part was when I was finished and had a published book! I think that the hardest part was probably getting the story going, but once I did, I easily wrote 1,000 words a day! If I had time, I would love to write another novel, but I wouldn’t know what to write about this time. If I had to tell a younger student advice on this it would be to just type. It may not make sense, but that is what the editing process is for at the end. Set your goals high every day, and over-achieve the total word goal you have!! All in all, just have fun, and enjoy the time while you have it! πŸ™‚

Melissa
Author of Midnight Sky

The best part of writing a novel was to know I wrote a book and have it so I show people what I accomplished. The hardest part was getting all my words and having it make sense. I liked working every day in English class. It helped me get all my words. The Dare Machine really helped too. From this experience, I learned that words add up and you really need to stay on task to finish it. I liked writing my novel because it took up a lot of class and I got to spend every day on the computer, but sometimes it got old writing because I was sick of my story. It was really hard at first but you can always switch your story a little bit so it’s a lot easier to keep going.

Leah
Author of Country Strong

My experiences with NaNoWriMo were good and bad, but thinking back I really enjoyed it. I liked having the choice to write about whatever I wanted, and having total freedom with it. It was great! It was tricky sometimes, like when I couldn’t think of what to say. Then I just wrote something totally random. If I could do it again, I probably would because I know what I did wrong and could fix those things and make a great novel! If I would give any suggestions to the student who is going to be writing a novel, I would say to be very creative, and it’s okay if you want to add some crazy stuff in it. It makes the novel creative and fun! πŸ™‚

Allison
Author of Betrayed

I thought that it was pretty fun and you got to chose what the story was about.

Lucas
Author of The Revenge to the Death


Writing our novels was a good experience because we got to learn how to think of our own stories and to come up with our own ideas. The hardest part was probably having to come up with an idea to start your story. Once you got your idea, all you had to do was write. There was no right or wrong, you just had to do what you thought sounded good. Getting my book published was worth it. Even though it took awhile to edit and come up with a title and a cover. Now I can say I’ve written a book and gotten it published. Some suggestions I have are make sure you have a good topic and you can write a good, long story about it. If you don’t have a good topic, then you’ll be stuck on what to write the whole time.

Abby
Author of Sophie Ann and Maria


Getting to write about whatever I wanted was the most rewarding part. It didn’t matter what I wrote about; it was my idea and I’m really happy how it turned out. Writer’s block was the hardest part. When I couldn’t think of anything to write, it was hard. Then, after a long period of not knowing what to write about, I got tons of ideas. If I had the class time, I would not mind writing my own series. I seriously would not mind at all. I learned that if you want to write a story, it takes a long time of thought and preparation. Advice I would give other students is β€œDon’t hold back. Just go at this book with determination and ideas and you will have a good outcome.”

It was worthwhile doing all the revising and editing because if I hadn’t there would be tons of mistakes (spelling, spacing, punctuation). It was hard to revise but it was worth it because now I have a ‘real’ book that I wrote. I would have liked it if my teacher could have let us take our time and think about what we’re writing, not just write it down really fast just to make the deadline. Make sure that you use every day of November even if the first day is on a weekend.

Carter
Author of The Attack of Saffrondo II

NaNoWiMo was a lot of fun. At first, it was difficult to figure out how everything was going to fit together, but after you started typing it kept getting easier and easier. Filling out the packet [Young Writers Workbooks] really helped come up with ideas to include in your story.

Matt
Author of The Long Road Back

All images are from subscription iClipart.

08/Oct/2011
by Denise Krebs
3 Comments

NaNoWriMo YWP – Classroom Kit & More

Classroom Kit

Get your Classroom Kit ordered now. It is available free-of-charge from NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. It comes with a poster and stickers so students can keep track of their progress. And noveling buttons for all.

If you are reading this later, don’t think that ordering into November is too late, either. Picture this: Your students progressing on their novels like keyboarding little hellions. They don’t know yet or care about progress-tracking posters. You order your kit late. When it arrives, you hang the poster and start passing out stickers for each accomplished 10% toward their goal. Now they care about progress-tracking posters. Laughter, smiles and fist bumps all around. And you see that it wasn’t too late, after all!

More Resources

Participant Badges
Participant badges are available for your students to add to their blogs or to your class blog or web page. In December, there will be a WINNER badge available as well. Woohoo!

Flyers
The flyers are good to hang up around the school because, for our school, when it was new people had lots of questions. High school students in my building would check out the URL, or previous students would be reminded that we were starting soon. I am always tickled when at least one older student writes again in November.

Pep Talks
You adult authors will write a series of pep talks throughout the month. Students who sign up using their own emails will get great talks from authors, like last year’s from John Green and D.J. Hale. In previous years, pep talkers have included Jerry Spinelli, Margaret Peterson Haddix and Avi. Find archives of all of the pep talks here. Students who have registered with their own email address will get the latest pep talk sent to them, which I find they read more than when I send them a link. NaNoWriMo will send no junk email!

Young Writer Workbooks
One of my favorite resources has been the Young Writer Workbook. It is creative, fun, young, and the kids do not feel like they are doing workbook pages. They are working toward an authentic goal, and the workbook is used solely for realizing that goal. Last year I had copies printed from our area education agency. They each cost $2.30, which was a great price, but we didn’t take advantage of most of the pages. This year I decided to try making mini-workbooks. The planning pages are awesome for use at this time of the year. Later when we go into editing mode, I’ll make a mini-workbook with those pages.

Virtual Classroom
Another favorite aspect of NaNoWriMo is the just-new-last-year Virtual Classroom. This is a great cat-herding place for you and your wild young novelists. Not only that, it is a place you all can connect with other novelist classrooms around the world. Either way is fine–you run your virtual classroom alone, but if you wish, you can also find connect with one or more other classrooms. My next blog post will be about the Virtual Classroom.

Hope you are thinking of joining us on our wild noveling adventure! If so, start here to sign up teachers and students.

08/Oct/2011
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

NaNoWriMo YWP – How Do Students Make Their Goals?

A friend who has joined the Young Writer’s Program of NaNoWriMo asked me a good question: How do students make their goals for writing a novel in November?

I have some history here that will help. The first year I wrote novels with my students. I asked for volunteers. Eleven out of 18 students chose to write novels. I ran two different programs in English class. The other seven wrote an autobiography and a fiction story. For the non-novelers, I used the same writer’s workshop style I usually do.

The novelists, on the other hand, had much more freedom. For the month of November, their primary objective was to draft their first novel. It worked well, and each 8th grade novelist succeeded in writing a 10,000 word or more novel. 100% success rate. The students who wanted to could edit and ready their novels for publication on their own, and I helped six students get them done and ordered.

The second year I added novel-writing to my curriculum. Again, the objective was to write the first draft, reaching their word count goal. Each student wrote a novel, and on some level everyone enjoyed it and remained engaged in their stories for the whole month.

Due to the success my students had the first year, I kept the 10,000 word goal as a minimum. That was a mistake. I had a few kids who just could not do it. Of my 21 students, five did not reach their goal. Thus, they did not “win.” It was sad because it was not for lack of effort. After November starts, it is too late to change the goals that have been set. However, 3 of the 5 who didn’t reach their goal still completed their editing work and received their printed book. Create Space (a subsidiary of Amazon) has been printing a free proof copy for each person who wins NaNoWriMo. (For those who didn’t “win”, we just paid the $8 or so.) To the individuals, I also tried to make it clear that they were winners, and I had made a mistake when I insisted that the whole class should have the same goal.

I am taking the advice of the YWP this year when they suggest to the students: “Remember to set your own challenging, yet reachable, word-count goal!” I am still challenging most of my students for 10,000+ words, but they can make their goal anywhere between 3,000-10,000+. I have one student who made hers 20,000. You will know who you can push over 10,000 and who needs to be 3,000 to 5,000. I chose these numbers based on the word count recommendations from NaNoWriMo. (I’m not sure when I discovered this document–but, unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention to it until this year!)

I found it was possible for many kids to have a 500-word day, and if they write every day in November during class, that will translate to around 10,000 words. Many students will write at home too. I even had one who liked to write in pencil on legal pads. She wrote furiously at home each night and then typed it up during our class period. Students find their own way and enjoy the independence. It is a writing experience most of them have never had.

This will be my third time participating in NaNoWriMo. According to Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, it is “a high-velocity approach to noveling” and “a seat-of-your-pants literacy adventure.” All participants at times have to write random craziness. The goal of 50,000 for adult writers is hard to do for busy teachers. I have a feeling that, for students, 10,000 words feels to them like 50,000 does to me. They experienced the same joyful rewards that I did when we reached our goals. Chris also suggests that it is “monkey barrels of fun” or it should be.

Someone came into class yesterday when we were working on getting ready for NaNo and said, “I was talking to some freshmen, and they said they just wrote random stuff to reach their goal.”

Yes, I told her, sometimes I did, as well. I went on to explain what that meant. That it really is true that the act of fluent writing is our major goal. In Chris Baty’s book, No Plot? No Problem, he suggests we must write quantity over quality for this month and worry about the editing later. Most all WriMos are guilty of shameless word padding at one time or another. On rare occasions during November, I would write a passage so poignant that I wept over it, but most of the time I was as dry as burnt toast, putting myself to sleep and risking dropping my laptop off my lap. I told the student she will learn about writing and about herself by going through the process. Yes, I explained, I will not be able to read all of your novel carefully, so you could get away with a lot of shenanigans. If that is your goal–to get away with cheating on your word count–you can certainly do that. To be sure, some students are rightly more proud of their novels than others.

Each WriMo lives his or her own experience, and as teacher you have to allow them the agency to find their way in the noveling world. That’s why this year, by allowing a variety of goals, I am convinced it will make students more committed to the process of reaching their goal. And, as a result, I believe a greater number will be pleased with the end products of their labor.


Link to the same video above: Nano Published Novels 2010-11

More NaNoWriMo blog posts here and here and here and here.

07/Oct/2011
by Denise Krebs
5 Comments

Ah, Friday…Looking Forward to NaNoWriMo

I am so excited this time of year. It is just about time for NaNoWriMo!

I have written two nano novels. Mediocre at best. At worst, they are boring, redundant, childish, and so much more. Fifty-thousand words each, lacking in rich description, minus realistic dialogue, missing winsome characters, and so much less.

However, I know that I write better today than I did two years ago, before I wrote my first novel. That much is true. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I would have been a good technical writer–not a novelist.

Now I teach English and literature to junior highers, which is daunting and humbling. My 8th grade students write novels too. This week they have begun to create their accounts, think up ideas, and plan their noveling strategies.

On November 1, a blank yet hopeful Google Doc greets us. By the 30th we experience the sweet thrill of victory when we “win” NaNoWriMo.

My students keep me going so I too can experience victory. They believe in themselves, each other and me. Because of them, I believe in myself, too.

I can hardly wait!

Here is a video of last year’s group…

17/May/2011
by Denise Krebs
Comments Off on 8th Graders Publish Novels

8th Graders Publish Novels



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...My 8th graders published novels!

Last November, 21 students wrote first drafts of novels. Starting in January, they spent hours and hours editing and readying them for publication, and now 18 of them reaped the benefits of their labor, following through to see their novels published. Here’s a video of their work.

Doesn’t that look fun? It’s not too early for you to think of signing up for next year’s NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program for November 2011. This will be the third year 8th graders and I have written novels in November.

Eighth graders (and some high schoolers at my school who choose to do it again) make a goal–usually around 10,000 words. It’s a challenging objective, but most of them make it to that lofty number. I write a 50,000 word novel and connect with other writers on the main NaNoWriMo site.

nano_ywp_10_winner_300x300

I encourage my educator friends to join in the fun with your students of all ages. NaNoWriMo does things excellently, and it is geared for all students K-12. (The younger the student, the smaller the word-count goal, of course.) NaNo provides an incredible interactive virtual classroom where you can connect with other novel-writing students around the world. Oh, and did I tell you the program is free?

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer,” said E.B. White about Charlotte. Those of us who have joined in at NaNoWriMo would concur with White about the staff members at NaNo. Not only are they true friends and good writers, but each one has an incredible sense of humor, impeccable taste in stickers and posters, and the ability to help you when you have a need. The workbooks make the planning fun and meaningful (and tied into standards). In the past CreateSpace.com has provided free proof copies of their novels for all participants who reach their goal.

Check out the program links, and leave any questions in the comments section. I’ll be happy to try to answer them from my limited perspective. And, as I said at the beginning, it is not too early to think about it. November comes fast once school starts!

New this summer…you can also write a novel any time during the year and get support from the great people at The Office of Letters and Light through Camp NaNoWriMo.

For more information:
NaNoWriMo YWP Fact Sheet

National Writing Project NaNoWriMo Article
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