I read the article Encourage Authentic Writing with #WhatIWrite and #NaNoWriMo by Katherine Schulton. Schulton gave us readers a look into the National Writing Project and November National Novel Writing Month. Schulton gave her readers both a teach and student viewpoint; both of which raved about the programs. Jennifer Ansbach has evolved her teaching practices around November National Writing Month. Ansbach explains fully supports the programs and believes that it gives students the opportunity to do the work of real writers provides the chance to work one on one with the students throughout their novel writing process. Ansbach had her students write in class everyday, starting with a mini lesson on basic elements of writing. While students wrote, Ansbach circulated the room meeting with each student individually for coaching and feedback. She also made the process less overwhelming for her students by breaking it into shorter more attainable goals and challenges. On top of that, bulletin boards with suggestions and tips were put up on each wall for her students to use at their convenience.
Schulton not only presented the experience from the point of view of Jennifer Ansbach, but also a student. Julia Fox explained that writing a novel in class and the twitter response to #WhatIWrite gave her the opportunity to express her passion for writing that wouldn’t have been possible if they were just focused on preparing for year end tests. Through the Novel Writing Month, they learned to develop a plot, build character descriptions and foreshadowing. Julia Fox considered the project a situation where she finally had control in class. She was given the chance to work with her thoughts and feelings and write about them. The students were finally able to have some control in their educating process and work collaboratively with their teachers. Julia also explained that she became more confident in her writing ability through the process. Once she saw that she could actually do it, write a whole novel, she knew she could do almost anything with her writing. She was grateful with the chance to sit with her own thoughts and feelings and have her own voice in a novel. Instead of studying other famous novels by authors who died years and even hundreds of years before Julia Fox even was born, she learned the writing process by actually doing it herself. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? The classroom has always been so much about giving examples of what other authors have done and what we are always taught is the correct way to write. I think the best way to really teach our students how to write, is to give them the opportunity time and time again to put their pens to their papers and write. They should be free and in control in their education, and giving them the chance to take control in the classroom like that builds their confidence and makes them more successful in their education and maybe even in the rest of their life endeavors. Instead of focusing on preparing for what exactly would be in their end of the year standardized exams, Jennifer Ansbach taught her students and prepared her students by making them write novels. Her students were thoroughly prepared for their end of the year standardized exams because they actually worked on writing their own novels. They knew the writing process inside and out because they lived it. They weren’t merely reading and memorizing from a book, they were doing the dirty work – and it made such a difference.