reThink ELA #011: Getting Students Excited to Write with NaNoWriMo

reThink ELA Podcast
reThink ELA Podcast
reThink ELA #011: Getting Students Excited to Write with NaNoWriMo

Experienced adult writers are intimidated by the NaNoWriMo project, which entails writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Who thought up such an event when writing is usually a much longer labor of love? Now imagine the faces of 8th graders when presented with this project?

A teaching veteran of 30 years, Laura Bradley preps her 8th graders for this project usually when school starts in August. Laura says by the time November 1st rolls around, her kids are begging to get out of the prep phase and to start writing their creation.

We’re also joined by Sean Krazit, a 9th and 12th grade English teacher who also had success with this program in his classes. Both Laura and Sean agree that when kids are allowed to take full ownership of their writing – down to whether they can use swear words – the kids approach writing with more excitement and vigor than when given prompts, specific topics, or word counts.

Topics we discussed in this episode:

  • how the kids start to think like writers outside of the classroom
  • possible challenges teachers may encounter with administrators and students
  • how students learn about project management and deadlines
  • how teachers can grade a month-long assignment like this
  • how to incorporate mini-lessons into this writing assignment
  • the Pomodoro technique

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Young Writers Project

Pomodoro Technique

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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