Noveling, the Common Core, and More

NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program is a growing part of my eighth grade curriculum. We wrote rough drafts in November.  In February, we started on what I thought would be a one-month journey of revision and editing, but it is turning into more like two months. That’s three months in all, and the jury is still out on whether this has been a good use of our time, so I needed to do a little reflection.

Previously with Novel-Writing 8th Graders

Three years ago, NaNoWriMo was a voluntary assignment, with about 2/3 of the class participating. The rest of the class did other writing assignments. A bit more than half of the novelers chose to continue with the work of editing, most of it on their own. Proof copies were ordered in the summer.

Two years ago, 100% wrote first drafts in November (it became an assignment for everyone that year), and 85% edited (much in a short exploratory course and then some on their own). We ordered proof copies by the skin of our teeth, and celebrated our accomplishment the last week of school.

Now, this year, with three months on the line, is the experience worthwhile enough to take English time to get the process done for everyone?

Noveling and the Common Core

I compared the noveling, revising and editing curriculum to the Common Core standards in Language and Writing,  and the students have really grown in the standards I looked at. The following five images are the complete standards for eighth grade in Language and Writing. I made notes in red regarding student work on this project:

Language Common Core

Writing Common Core

More than the Common Core

Clearly, with this project they are doing the work of writing and developing written language skills. In addition to these important skills in the Common Core, the 8th graders are also learning to…

  • follow their dreams
  • believe in themselves
  • recognize their creativity
  • know they are a genius, and the world expects their contribution*
  • make decisions about what to do in school
  • develop passion for their own assignments, not mine (On an aside, one of my greatest sadnesses as a teacher is when a student says, “Is this what you want?” I can honestly say, in three years, no one has ever asked me that question regarding their novel. It is strangely theirs from start to finish, even though I have many benchmarks, requirements, and, come editing time, I comment all over their Google Doc like an overachieving street tagger! I am constantly having conferences and mini-lessons with individuals. [Note to self: Next year bring in backups–parents and retired teachers who can help.] BUT, they do the work and want to. They know they are getting a proof copy and want it to be good. No student has ever said, “That’s OK, I’ll just keep this plotless wonder with all its mistakes.” I back off when I realize I’m asking too much. When one has 339 errors of the same kind, it can be a bit daunting, so I help as much as possible and we’re becoming pros at using the find and replace feature.)
  • and so much more

Maybe the jury is closer to a decision than I thought! I’ll let you know after we get all the books ordered!

Additional Resources

For more on my experience with NaNoWriMo, here is an index to additional blog posts about it.
Download Common Core Standards.
* Angela Maiers

10 thoughts on “Noveling, the Common Core, and More

  1. Denise- It must be blogging Saturday – we posted 16 minutes apart!

    This is so inspiring, and I LOVE LOVE the CCS alignment you did here. I didn’t teach writing this year, but I will be back to it next year. I am going to share your post with my colleagues and see if I can get any of them inspired too!


  2. Oh, fun, Laura! Maybe we’ll be noveling together next year! Are you leaving reading for writing, or do you have a different set up for next year? Thank you for the comment, and for reading my post. I’m on the way to Love::Teaching now!


  3. Mrs. Krebs,
    I think this assignment is very beneficial to your eighth graders because writing and grammar etc. are essential skills needed to express their ideas.

    1. Hi LaShunda,
      Thank you for reading this blog post and leaving a comment. I agree this assignment is beneficial! I think the kids are engaged and love writing their novels. Will the lessons they learn carry over into other writings that they do? I hope so!

      I appreciate all the work you and your classmates do in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 course.

      Denise Krebs

  4. Hi Denise,

    This is really fantastic. Like your other commenter said, I really enjoyed your walk through of the Common Core, and how NaNo stacked up. Lots of food for thought on how we can further develop our programs.

    Thank you!


    1. Thanks, Tim!
      We love your programs. I’m sure you are anxious to get going next week on Script Frenzy too! I’m not sure how I would ever do both, but every year we take a bigger bite into writing, so who knows?

      Thanks for reading and commenting. You guys rock!

  5. This is a great example of authentic learning. We’ve been ramping up our reading and the novels have not been our focus. We’ve been reading each others and work the last week to add feedback on six pages of hard copy to “feel” the books! It’s been a great experience for our first time. It sounds like your crew of authors have really moved into the professional realm: research, revise, edit — “Writing is hard fun!” as Donald Murray would say. Your students have discovered this power.

    1. Hi Sheri,
      It’s funny how any one student’s idea of revision can be so very different than mine. I do push them, but, like I said above, I want them to keep ownership, so sometimes I back off if they aren’t ready for more. I smile as I picture them browsing through their books in five, ten, or more years. Or, even funnier, to imagine their own children reading them someday. They will be a treasure to save, and I’m sure they will be proud of them. I agree it’s authentic work!


  6. A dream to success through writing…It’s truly amazing how you have helped your students exceed beyond the common core skills in writing and, at the same time, they are having fun. As we know, effective writing is a direct path to success in any field.
    You have,
    without a doubt, placed your students on a direct path to having a bright future.
    Thank-you for the examples you have provided for me in my future endeavors as a teacher.

    Cynthia Arrington
    edm310, University of South Alabama

    1. Cynthia,
      What a kind and effective comment! You are a good writer! 🙂 My prayer is that I have sparked a love for writing in at least some of my students.

      Blessings to you as you continue on your journey to be a teacher,

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