• Rachael Waldburger

5 Tips for Camp in the Classroom

Updated: Jan 29

#campnanowrimo #nanowrimo #youngwritersprogram #ywp

Greetings, friends! It's finally (technically) spring, which means it's time for Camp NaNoWriMo! I've been preparing for weeks, and so have my middle schoolers. They have their projects declared, from new novels to short stories to a cook book. We can't wait to get writing! These 5 tips really help keep the kiddos motivated, and the best part is that most of them work outside of NaNo time.

1. Decorate. Everybody appreciates a change of scenery every once in a while. I usually am not a fan of bulletin boards, but I love them for NaNoWriMo. It gives the class a visual reminder that something fun and exciting is going on—especially since I rarely decorate for anything else.

2. Set the mood. I love websites like ambient-mixer.com , which allow you to create your own ambient sounds to fit your every need. You can create your own or use pre-made ones. Play them during writing times to keep your kids focused and quiet. My favorites are Ravenclaw Study and Sherwood Forest. During Camp, I like to pull up a Youtube video of a fireplace and put it on the Clevertouch board—the kids love writing before a fire.

3. Writing Sprints. A little competition goes a long way with middle schoolers. I set 10-20 minute timers and challenge the kids to a "Word Sprint", and I participate with them (though I usually slack off toward the end to let a student win.) Whoever has written the most in the allotted time gets to pick a small prize. The prizes are usually either writing materials or NaNo merchandise, but I throw in the occasional homework pass to keep it interesting.

4. Write every day. Make writing a priority in your class every single day. We can't always write for long, but I try to give the students at least 15 minutes every class period during NaNo months. If you prioritize writing time, they start to internalize it as well.

5. Sell it. This is may be the most important tip, because the kids won't be excited if you're not. Writing thousands of words in a month is hard for most adults, and students have the added pressure of other homework, extracurricular activities, and end-of-the-year jitters. Build up the excitement before the month starts, write with students during their writing times, tell them about your writing at home. If you love it, most of them will come to love it too (they just may not admit it!)

What tricks do you have for pulling off a successful NaNoWriMo in your classroom?

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