A High School Teacher has Students Participate in NaNo

Wait, what?

I just read that a teacher in Virginia at a Catholic school had his students participate in NaNo this month. Their goal was 30,000 words rather than the 50,000 most aim for.

I understand that private schools don’t have to necessarily cover all the same topics as public schools, but I find this to be a bit much. Class time has likely been used for it. And it’s impossible for him to give any kind of substantive feedback with the time crunch.

Obviously he figured this would help them improve their writing skills, but I disagree. Why not instead focus on writing throughout the month? Poetry. Short stories. Maybe a short nonfiction essay? I just don’t think this is the best way to really help high school students improve their writing. And I don’t think it’s a good use of the time he has with them.

What do you think?

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22 thoughts on “A High School Teacher has Students Participate in NaNo

  1. I think it’s odd. Encourage the students to do it in their own time – to bring the results into class (though that could be awkward). But as part of the normal class?
    My son was encouraged a couple of times at primary school to enter a national 500 word short story competition – it may as well have been 30,000 words for all he moaned over it! Writing stories has not been passed down the family πŸ™‚

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    • Mhm. Maybe make the students aware of it, but I don’t like them being forced to strive toward a stupid word count goal. No one in my family writes.

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      • I know the teacher decreased the word count, but that’s quite lot of work for people keen on writing, let alone those students who might not enjoy it. You’re the first published novelist in your family? That’s a big achievement! Hope they’re proud of you

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      • It definitely is. More work than I think is necessary for a high school senior. And I’m still only self published. Most of my family didn’t even read it. Oh well.

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      • It might be self-pub, but it looks really professional. Always thought the cover art was very good πŸ™‚ You can’t always have family support – most of mine aren’t interested enough to read my stuff either (though of course I haven’t published a novel yet). They’re probably still proud of you, though πŸ™‚

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      • Well thanks. Eh. I guess they might be. I think one of my siblings, my dad, and my grandma read it. Out if a million people.

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      • I think that’s good going, to be honest! I think when my short stories were published in an anthology, my mum read them – maybe my older brother – and that was it πŸ™‚ I have friends who read my blog (a couple) but no family do. It’s just not the kind of thing they would fond interesting

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      • Your family is definitely like mine. Ha! How many short stories did you have published? No one I know reads my blog. Only people if the internet, though my co workers are a bit more interested in it than anyone else I know. And I just wrote a staff pick for work that may or may not be published on the Half Price Books website. That’d be cool.

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      • I had three stories published in the anthology, though I haven’t read them for about two years and suspect I might find them a bit embarrasing now. πŸ™‚ I’ve had some others published online and one in a little magazine, but that’s it.
        The thing about online – and at your work – is you’re finding what the marketers seem to call your ‘tribe’ – people really interested in books. Looking forward to your Staff Pick – hope it comes off for you. Will you share a link so we can all read it?

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      • Hmm. Why would they be embarrassing? You’ve published more than most. And I have to see if my pick was chosen. They accept as many as we send, but only a few are actually put online. And it isn’t a real review. It’s maybe 200 words with no negativity. Cause a Staff Pick wouldn’t make sense if you’re telling someone how bad a book is. I’ll check tomorrow and see about a link.

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      • I just think my writing has changed – stuff from two years ago will have more adjectives, adverbs, be more cluttered than my stuff is now.
        Yes, there would be little point in a staff pick if you’re persuading people NOT to buy! Good luck with it

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      • Hmmm. Got it. I also forgot to check on the Staff Pick and I’m off the next two days. Whoops.

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      • It’ll still be there when you go back in πŸ™‚

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  2. If it was a regular English class, this would be weird. If it was a Creative Writing class, I think it’s a nice exercise. I would have loved to receive such an assignment in school – it would have forced me to get some substantial original writing done and analyzed by an actual teacher. So long as all the kids are actually there to write, I think it would be fun.

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    • I don’t think it’s a creative writing class. I liked essays in college. And maybe the last year of high school. I even knew I wanted yo write when I was a senior. But I’d have hated this.

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  3. I suppose there is no great harm in it, but I think that the time could be better spent in other pursuits. I would rather see a high school student put together a well structured poem, short story or essay than simply drive toward reaching a relatively meaningless word-count goal. But, as someone here mentioned, if it were a creative writing class, then there may be some merit in the exercise, but frankly I think it is a bit of a waste of class time.

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  4. I feel like Poetry, Short Stories, and nonfiction Essays get shoved in students faces their entire lives. From grade school to well into college. I think the teacher’s idea with Nano was to give them some creative freedom to explore and see if writing a novel was something they’d actually want to do. One month out of one school year, out of the 12+ they’ll participate in isn’t going to hurt them. Instead, it could help them realize their own potential, or to better appreciate the effort and prowess displayed in the literary works they’ll read over the course of their education.

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  5. Points for creativity?

    Perhaps he replaced journal writing, which I abhorred, with something the students might actually put some effort into. Maybe it’s the month’s homework assignment.

    Did the article say what kind of class it was? Was it perhaps an elective class on writing or something similar?

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