Tips and Tech for Tackling NaNoWriMo in the Classroom

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a month-long writing challenge held every November. Starting November 1, over the course of 30 days, participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel, breaking the project down into daily writing goals of 1,667 words. The event has been going for 20 years strong.

Writers sign up for many reasons: to finally write that novel they’ve been dreaming of, to make a daily habit of writing or to participate in the writing community that springs up around the event. These benefits, with the side effects of improving writing skills and working on grit, can be invaluable to students, particularly those in the English language arts (ELA).

Some educators have found NaNoWriMo to be a great way to get students involved with and excited about writing. NaNoWriMo even has a school- and education-focused program called the Young Writers Program for K–12 students. They provide materials to help facilitate the incorporation of NaNoWriMo into the curriculum, offering a classroom kit to get things moving with setup and implementation as well as lessons aligned to Common Core.

Whether you’re doing a full NaNoWriMo event in your classroom or just incorporating fiction-writing exercises into your lessons, here are some tips and tech that your students — or you — might find helpful throughout your NaNoWriJo (National Novel Writing Journey!).


All fiction writing starts with an idea — or a whole bunch of ideas, all mixed together like stew in a pot. Coming up with ideas can be difficult if your students are feeling stuck. Creativity sometimes involves looking at things from an oblique angle, or thinking things through from a problem-solving mindset.

Students can try using plot and idea generators, as with these ones on the Writing Exercises website. They can take the prompts and incorporate them into ongoing plots or new scenes. If you want to incorporate STEM into your lessons or you’re teaching a coding class, you could even have students create their own random prompt generators, creating word…

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