#NaNoPrep – are your WriMos ready?

photo 1 (43)If your students are participating in NaNoWriMo (in T – 3 days), then they are probably chomping at the bit to start writing.  There’s nothing like telling students they CAN’T write until a certain date to get them begging for permission to write!  If they have created their characters, crafted their conflicts and plotted their plot, then they are probably more than ready to start chapter one.

But being ready to write doesn’t mean they are ready to deal with the inevitable road blocks that will get in their way once they get past the first page.  Be proactive and get your students ready before they crash and burn:

  • give them time to explore the resources on the Young Writers Program site for NaNoWriMo.  Not only should they create and personalize their accounts, but they also need time to check out the Dare Machine, the NaNo News and the Author Pep Talks, and to find their writing buddies on the site. When they start writing on November 1st, tell them to open the NaNo site in another tab so they can access it during writing time.
  • get them familiar with gmail and Google docs (assuming your students have access).  We use Google docs because it stores their work in their gmail accounts (which means no need for flash drives), and also because all work is saved automatically.  But most young students don’t have much experience with gmail or docs, so they’ll need time before November to get comfortable with them.  You don’t want to waste time on November 1st explaining it (and dealing with forgotten passwords), so practice with Google in the days up to NaNo Day 1.
  • teach them how to write dialogue and have them practice.  My students are 13, and most of them have not written much dialogue, but they will definitely want to include dialogue in their novels.  Better to have them practice with it now, before they write pages and pages of indecipherable dialogue.nano logo
  • have basic directions posted in your room for logging in to online accounts, for what to do when they get stuck, and for updating their word count at the end of each writing session. That way you won’t need to interrupt their writing to give directions.
  • create a shared document for all your students and have them come up with their own dares; another shared doc of their own excerpts can also be motivational.
  • consider letting them listen to music while they write.  The first year my students wrote novels, the silence in the room was a distraction in itself.  When I let them plug in earbuds and listen to music on their phones, they were able to stay focused much longer.  Or you could play music for the whole class.  Anything to break the eerie silence of writers writing.

If you are a teacher interested in bringing the magic of NaNoWriMo to your students, check out my NaNoTeacher website for oodles of help.

Bring it on, November!  We are ready-WriMos.


2 thoughts on “#NaNoPrep – are your WriMos ready?

  1. This is a great post. There are many ideas i haven’t even thought about. This is my first year doing Nano and I am excited but am starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. I am trying to take it day-by-day. I am curious about having my students sign up for gmail accts. If we do that, will i be able to view their writing in Google Drive? Or do I need a “share” spot for them to put their writing for all to see? Thanks for all your help.

  2. Hey Justin! Time for you to get up close and personal with gmail! 😉 Within your account, you’ll have word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, drawings, etc., and they are all stored in your Google Drive, which is in the cloud. So no flash drives, no lost work, etc. And all your Google work can be “shared” with other users, which means the doc will be in their account also. So my students create a doc in their account, and then invite me to it via gmail. I can then read and comment on their work via gmail. Super handy. But your students need to be 13 to open these accounts – that’s why Google Apps districts are so great — we have student Google accounts for those under 13.
    You might get a lot of answers to your questions on my NaNo site: http://nanoteacher.weebly.com/ Let me know if I can answer more questions — I love NaNo!

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