O.k. November 1st marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The whole goal behind NaNoWriMo is for the people participating in it to write a 50,000 word novel by midnight of November 30th. They catch is they can't start writing it until November 1st. This is a program I only first heard about last year and only this year realized how it helps our schools. How? Easy.
NaNoWriMo has a program called NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program. This program is specifically set up and designed for children 17 and under to participate. Unlike its more adult oriented program kids can set their own word-count goals. Also it is able to be incorporated into a classroom curriculum. Best part, it's free to participate. Their website provides educators with a virtual classroom to help them better work NaNoWriMo into the classroom. They also have a NEO lending program for classes that are unable to access the internet for the duration of NaNoWriMo. The NEO they lend out is basically a kid friendly laptop/word proccessor that the kids in the class can use to type up their stories on. They also offer ways for kids to participate without using computers.
They also provide forums for teachers to communicate with one another about NaNoWriMo and workbooks for students to use to help them write their novels.
How does this relate to any of us??? Well it's free! It's a free curriculum for teachers who are strapted for cash and can't always afford some of the newer writing courses out there. It's also a great way to encourage kids to write and learn helpful organizational skills. No time in the classroom? Why not start it as an after school program? They also offer free novel proof copies to kids that reach their word count goals.
As for the rest of us who aren't teachers? Why not offer to help organize getting together pens and paper for the children to write on? Volunteering to help encourage the kids to keep writing, or coming in and helping add up word counts for the kids after they are done writing. Maybe if you have an old typewriter or word proccesor lending it out to the class so the teacher can help them type up their work? How 'bout even just bringing this to the attention of the teachers at your local schools?
There are so many ways this can be applied to benefit schools and kids it's unbelievable.
Now, unfortunetly, I know the deadline for signing up to participate is a little more than 7 days away. And the deadline for applying for the NEO's is well past. However, NaNoWriMo is a yearly event that takes place every November. Go sign up, check it out. See if it's something that you, the teacher, could see working in your classroom. Parents your kids can sign up independantly of a classroom. Why not both you and your child sign up for it this year and see how it goes. Give it a test run. Then next year already be ahead of the game and be ready in September to see about talking to the teachers at the school and seeing if it would be something they are interested in.
In today's economy where classrooms sometimes are working with books and tools that are in desperate need of updating, and when funds are not there to do it with, this provides a new and innovative way to help encourage young writers. And helps give kids a fresh new way to learn.
So I encourage all of you reading this to go check it out!
Again here are the links for NaNoWriMo's young Writers Program and NaNoWriMo itself.