Monday, July 30, 2012


There may be a swath of summer still ahead, but if you’re a teacher, right about now you probably can’t get fall off your mind. I know I can’t. Each day when I watch the sun pop over the mountains and set the morning mist ablaze, I think about how I want to be that sun to my students. Not bake them and send them indoors to watch streaming video, but infuse them with artistic energy!
Laura Krauss Melmed’s nifty “endeavor to involve other people” in her literary life (see her July 9 post) got me thinking about how young writers, too, like to write in a crowd. And that got me thinking about NANOWRIMO.
If you’ve never heard of this, it’s “National Novel Writing Month,” run by the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light, a bunch of very clever writing zaniacs. (Neologisms like that are just the kind of word-fun encouraged by the Nanowrimoids.) It is probably best known as a collective of aspiring novel writers who binge-write for the month of November each year. I actually wrote a first draft of one of my teen novels during one of their writing sprees, and it was then that I discovered their ridiculously fun resources for educators and students.
Their “Young Writers Program” is chockfull of totally free and well-designed stuff: pep talks from popular authors; downloadable workbooks to help kids of all ages write stories with strong characters, settings and plots; and gizmos like the “Dare Machine”—today’s dare was to “make one of your characters speak pig Latin or another made-up language.” Students LOVE this, and the intense camaraderie of a writing month sparks some incredible scribblings.
If you want to see how the Office of Letters and Light can help you create in your students a burning desire to write, check out:  NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program.

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