National Writing Project

Why and How to Join National Novel Writing Month

Publication: Impatient Optimists, a blog of the Gates Foundation
Date: November 6, 2012

Summary: Tanya Baker, NWP Director, National Programs, discusses why teachers and students alike should take on the task of writing a novel during November in celebration of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. When Laura Bradley, Bay Area Writing Project teacher-consultant, challenged her class to write novels, her students responded with enthusiasm.


Excerpt from Article

The NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program offers a common core aligned curriculum to support teachers who want to do NaNoWriMo in their classrooms. That helps with the how. To understand the why, you have to listen to teachers who are brave enough to try it. . . .

Laura Bradley, an 8th grade teacher in Petaluma, CA, shepherded 91 budding novelists through NaNoWriMo last year, and since has been a vocal supporter of the program. In her Weebly blog written to support other teachers interested in participating, Bradley let's students explain the value of the program. My favorite testimonial comes from a boy who writes, "I just think this whole thing about writing a novel is really cool. It made me think that a lot of things could be possible in the world. I mean I am thirteen years old and I just wrote my own dang novel! How cool is that?"

Another of Bradley's students took her passion for the program to the New York Times' "Room for Debate" site. Julia Fox, then entering ninth grade, wrote "A Passion for Learning is Hard to Quantify" in which she argues that NaNoWriMo gave her skills, confidence, and passion as a writer that will stay with her. "When the state tests came around, I was more confident than ever about taking those tests. Even though we had never picked up our big English textbooks we still learned the essential skills needed to do well on the test . . . . I will remember all of these writing skills much longer . . . . because I actually wrote a novel, instead of just answering a multiple choice question on one."

This month, through NaNoWriMo, teachers and their students are facing down the biggest writing challenge they have ever faced. They are doing so in a digitally connected community of writers. Over the next month they will learn a lot about reading and writing narratives, but they will also learn something about just what they can accomplish. They will emerge, a little bleary-eyed, from behind their screens in December, asking, "What's next?"

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Read "How and WHY to Join National Novel Writing Month" on Impatient Optimists , a blog of the Gates Foundation.

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