Laura: Good morning!
Every year when I present this challenge, I wonder, will this be the year that students will say, "No, I can't do this"? Yet, every year, I see those kids have a story to tell.
So, planners out and notebooks and pen or pencil.
When I look back on my own learning about reading and writing, there was not a lot of writing that I felt ownership over. I've always been most comfortable with writing expository nonfiction, and when I heard about NaNoWriMo, I thought, 8th-graders writing a novel? That's impossible! And I couldn't even imagine writing a novel.
You guys are ready for the 30-day challenge?
As far as projects go, this one is big. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a challenge for young writers to write a novel in the 30 days of November.
You'll start brainstorming what settings are going to be part of your story.
A lot of them say, "I can't do this. I'm afraid. I don't want to do it." The counselors say that kids will show up at their office saying, "Please move me out of Mrs. Bradley's class. Does she know I'm only 13?" So, one of the first challenges was my own fear that they would not have stories to tell.
Student: Okay, what's your setting?
Laura: When I had them brainstorm their stories and then we all sat in a circle and I had them share out, one after another, I was blown away at the creativity and the passion, the voices that they had that they needed to share.
Student: The opening scene of my novel will be a flashback to my main character's grandfather in the prisoner-of-war camp.
Student: He's eating take-out Chinese with his mom, who just got out of open-heart surgery.
Student: "And from up above, Leo looked down at young Leo. He looked down and smiled. He smiled for Leo for moving on, for saving the universe. Well, the two of them."
Laura: That's amazing.
These students speak with such authority. They know what the characters are going to do. They know where the plot is going. They know the conflicts that have to be worked through, and they know how it all will end.
I'm peeking over your shoulders, and it's just amazing. I'm so impressed.
I remember as a student being pretty excited to take my writing and staple it into a pretty construction-paper cover. And that was publishing. But my students now are able to send the Amazon link to their relatives and share their novel with the world. I hope that they recognize that what used to seem impossible really is possible for them and that they leave my class going on to high school identifying as a writer, that when a teacher asks them to write something, they in their mind will say, "I can do this, because I've written a novel."