Saturday, October 24, 2009

Almost ready for NaNoWriMo

One week left to prepare with students - the Young Writers Program web site is very helpful, especially the middle school "young novelist workbook" that has many terrific brainstorming activities (to develop characters, conflict, plot, setting, etc.). Example: Some students have expressed bewilderment, concern, despair, outrage, etc. at my pronouncements about NaNoWriMo, but they diligently filled out the character questionnaires in the workbook, and a few looked up from their workbooks to whisper, "this is fun!" I've found the workbook useful for ME and have recommended it to at least two adults who plan to participate in the full NaNoWriMo program (50,000 words oh yeah!!!). Did I mention already that I've assigned 3000 as the word count goal for my students, and my own goal is TWICE the highest word count achieved by any student? Yep.

Another fun feature that has piqued student interest and, dare I say, excitement, about writing is the "Dare Machine" on the Young Writers Program web site homepage. Each click on the "DARE ME" button generates a new writing challenge. Examples: "We dare you to have some of your characters stage a jewel heist." "We dare you to include a reference to the Periodical Table of Elements in each of your chapters."
"We dare you to include a bucket of raw fish, an ice cream maker, and a creepy basement in the next page of your novel."

Happy writing to you all!

PS - I just read good middle school novel by Western New York writer Mick Cochrane, The Girl Who Threw Butterflies. I met Professor Cochrane at local bookstore book signing last June - super nice guy, just as he was described by my friend H who was his student at Canisius College.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

suzanne collins please finish the third book!!!

I'm absolutely obsessed with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, can you tell? I screamed at the end of Catching Fire - how could she leave me hanging like that?!?!?!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

young writers

Regardless of the craziness at work, the switching of teaching assignments, the really random bizarre bits of life and personality, I'm excited to write with my students for the Young Writers Program of NaNoWriMo! I'm going to wrap up poetry unit in the next 2 weeks and give some brainstorming/prewriting (for NaNoWriMo) homework (from the very extensive and excellent workbook from the web site). Before November starts, we'll be familiar with basic character and plot development, conflict, and setting, all story elements that are part of the 7th grade ELA curriculum.

One happy surprise is that even though I didn't plan to include my 8th grade remedial students (small group, only 9 students total, 2 sections) in the writing project, some of them really wanted to do it when they learned about it (and a few were horrified at the idea). So I am including everyone! As a challenge to all of us, I plan to set my word count at twice the highest student word count. (Their minimum is 3000.)

So if this is truly my rollercoaster year of crazy, then I might as well have fun!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A whole month, really?

So yeah, a whole month without a post. It was busy! And mostly great and some really excellent, until yesterday when I had the rug pulled out from under me. I spent the first 4 weeks of school learning to juggle different teaching assignments and really enjoying them all. Some of my assignments are being changed, and that's really all I have to say about it.

Highlights of the past month:

  • teaching one class of ELA 7, writing poetry now, and Young Writers Program of NaNoWriMo in November!
  • Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, absolutely wonderful story and teenage female protagonist, expanded retelling of a Grimm's fairy tale, set in ancient Mongolia - you MUST read it!