#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: just an excerpt, please!

If your students have been pounding away on their keyboards for the past month, drafting a (very very rough) first draft of a novel (thank you, NaNoWriMo!), you might be wondering how you can assess the work they’ve done. It wouldn’t be fair to assess their first drafts, especially since one rule of NaNoWriMo is that we all “silence our inner editors.” How painful would … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: just an excerpt, please!

#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Time for Titles

Returning from Fall Break this week, my students have four more days before NaNoWriMo ends. We have two class periods together, plus they will write at home. Our focus this week, after months of planning our stories, collecting writing advice from authors, working through writer’s block, and figuring out how to conclude our novels, is to just get to our word goals. We know the … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Time for Titles

#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: ogres and onions

When my students create characters for their NaNoWriMo novels, I push them to get super detailed: to hear the songs their characters will listen to when they plug in their earbuds; to picture the snack food they’ll pull from their backpack as they walk home from school; to feel the clothes they’ll grab from their closet on a Saturday morning. But those details don’t get … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: ogres and onions

Go ahead: ask your students what they want to write about. They will amaze you!

On my first-day-of-school survey, I asked my 8th graders: If you could write about anything this year, what would it be? Their answers remind me why it’s so valuable to give students choice in their writing. I never would have guessed they would want to write about so many interesting topics. Here are some of their plans: I would write about… a kid who is … Continue reading Go ahead: ask your students what they want to write about. They will amaze you!

Part 4: Reflections on our bulletin boards

In my last post I shared the beautiful and inspirational bulletin boards that my students created when they were given the challenge to make our classroom walls their own. Not content to end this project with their displays, I then asked them to choose one part of a bulletin board that they liked and reflect on its value to them and our community. Here are … Continue reading Part 4: Reflections on our bulletin boards

Part 3: Bulletin board inspiration

They arrived early on Day 1 of their bulletin board rotation, laden with bags of decorations, eyes and smiles full of¬†anticipation and excitement. I handed them staplers and push pins, and stepped back to watch them work. I had assigned this group to the largest bulletin board in the first round because I knew them well enough to expect them to produce a creative, thought-provoking … Continue reading Part 3: Bulletin board inspiration

Student #voice: bulletin boards and literary analysis

In my ongoing efforts to give my students more voice and choice in our classroom, I decided last summer that I would hand over the bulletin boards to them. I wasn’t sure my students even noticed what was on our walls, and I was pretty sure that I didn’t know what they needed to see that might impact their learning. But the start of the … Continue reading Student #voice: bulletin boards and literary analysis

#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Holiday Meals!

What’s a holiday movie without a dozen relatives (and a newcomer) crowded around a food-laden table, trying to dodge conversational land mines (or in some cases, hit them) as they settle in for a chaotic, tension-filled meal? Those annual feasts bring together so many elements that make for great scenes: people of all different ages (who have known each other forever) trying to get along; … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Holiday Meals!

#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Whip it!

Most of our class time during NaNoWriMo is spent in silence (except for the tap-tap-tapping of the laptop keys), as my students need a quiet environment to focus on their writing. Many of them use earbuds to listen to music while they write, but they know that the room needs to be quiet so we all can concentrate. But we have also learned that talking … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Whip it!

#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Houses & Hamburgers

The first few years that my students and I wrote novels with NaNoWriMo, I neglected settings. This wasn’t intentional, but my main concern was helping my students plan enough of a plot that they would be able to keep writing for the full month. My lack of novel-writing experience caused me to miss the fact that settings make a big difference in adding more story, … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: Houses & Hamburgers