For many years, November was one of my favourite months because of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, a month where people around the world attempt to write a novel, 50 000 words, in 30 days. Seven years ago I joined up on a whim and wrote a pretty terrible novel but I met a great group of people and started writing a whole lot more. The next year I wrote something a lot better, a children’s novel that I was pretty pleased with. The next two years I wrote some somewhat connected short stories and one year I spent time editing. Last year I didn’t do anything but I missed it.
So at the last minute I’ve decided I’m going to try something new; 30 blog posts in 30 days. I’ve been wanting to blog more often and I think this will give me the push I’m looking for to do more blogging and reflecting. I don’t think I’ll push for 50 000 words but I am going to try to blog every day at least in some small way. I may keep some blog posts private if there are things I decide to write about that I don’t want to share, but I’m planning to post as many of my posts as I can.
Speaking of being inspired to write, I’ve been considering the idea of going back to the routine I used to have of giving my students a couple of writing topics to write about in their journals first thing before announcements after they’ve written down their homework. Right now their routine is to read after their homework is written but we have time after math for silent reading and I would like them to get into the habit of writing more as well.
I have a few reluctant writers and reluctant readers in my class this year, which is pretty standard; in any class there are generally a few, and I always try to make it one of my goals to encourage them to find some enjoyment in reading and writing, find out what it is about reading and/or writing that turns them off and try to help them see past those blocks. I can see already that spelling and fine motor skills may be a problem for a few. And with some it may be that they haven’t found the right topics to read or write about. I try to give my students as much choice as I can so that they don’t feel they have to write a certain kind of way or about a certain topic in order for their writing to be considered good. And I don’t want them to feel that only certain kind of books make them a good reader. All kinds of reading and writing are practice. Once a student finds enjoyment in one kind of reading or writing then we can expand into other kinds but making that first step is pretty important.
I have to admit though, I find it hard sometimes to really understand students who dislike reading or writing. I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t like either. I get not enjoying certain kinds of books or not wanting to write certain genres (procedural writing for example I find very boring) but even that, it just takes some imagination to spice it up a bit. For some it’s probably a fear of failure or a frustration that something doesn’t come easily as it seems to come to people around them. I can imagine that that would be very difficult.
I’m hopeful that if I tell my students about this goal, they’ll be encouraged to make and try for their own goals.