November is National Novel Writing Month. This means that for the month of November, thousands of people will undertake a great task…writing 50,000 words in just thirty days. This event happens every year for a multitude of reasons, such as getting a story finished and as a way to get into the habit of writing on a daily basis. The same organization also hosts the Young Writers Program, which allows writers under 17 to choose a word count goal that isn’t necessarily 50,000 words.
Now, we certainly aren’t advocating that you should have your students write a 50,000 word novel this month. But NaNoWriMo provides you with an opportunity to get your students excited about writing. We’ve got some advice about how to get your students inspired this month, and beyond!
Give students a writing assignment that is not academic in nature. While it is important that students are able to write academic papers, students often find them to be boring and uninspiring. In honor of NaNoWriMo, give your students more freedom to try other forms of writing. This can be short stories, poems, journals, or even songs. In addition, don’t restrict your students to a specific topic. Present writing prompts, but also allow students to express their own creativity. After all, this is about getting students excited!
If you want a more structured assignment however, give students some freedom to choose it. For example, create a discussion topic and have students write a response to it. Have students write an article about a broad topic. Allow them to write a letter. Give an assignment that is broad enough that students can use their creativity.
Another good way to motivate students is to have some sort of contest. When creating a contest, stress that participation is voluntary. To help encourage students to enter, have a list of prizes for the winners! This could be a one-time contest, or an ongoing contest throughout the month with many different prizes. Have students submit their work to you at the end of the month. Judge the entries at your leisure before announcing the winners before winter break. Some great categories for winners include “longest story”, “best character”, and “most improved.”
Looking for another idea? Publish student work! No, we don’t mean that you should seek out a book deal. What we mean is you should place student work somewhere that others can read it. Select student work could be placed on the school website. You could create a class blog for student work that your students can share with friends and family. In your newsletters to family you can include a piece of student work. You can even create a newsletter comprised only of student work if you want! Students will love that their work is being seen by someone other than themselves and their teacher.
This is just a sample of some of the ways you can encourage students to write. We hope it helps!