Big Idea Teaching

“Hey,” I said, leaning down to get at my principal’s eye level, since there was no extra chair. “So. I had another one of my Big Ideas.”

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and said, “Yeeeees?”


At the beginning of the year, I decided that my students would do an on-going, self-selected graduation project. I check in with the kids, use their needs to inform my teaching, and encourage them to explore their interests. It’s going well, and the students seem (mostly) excited about it.

A few days later, I told them that I wanted them to read a million words this year. I taught them how to calculate the number of words per page and per book, and the Million Words project is entirely optional, although there are small prizes for students who reach their goal.


Finally, the newest Big Idea.

Last week I realized NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was coming up. I sort of wanted to do it, but needed some encouragement.

So I asked Mark if he was doing it. He said he wasn’t sure, and was I?

I started looking into the Young Writers Program from NaNoWriMo and thought, “This is it!”

I signed my entire class up. Then I emailed Mark and told him a bunch of fifth graders were going to do it. (Adults write 50,000 words. Children can choose their own word count.)

It worked! He said he’d do it, too.

I introduced the idea to my students, who couldn’t decide if they were excited, horrified, or just shocked.

We’ve been learning around writing, story arcs, and characters since then. We’ve put away our “Inner Editors.” More than half of the kids have signed up at the YWP website (in order to use the available tools). My kids are excited.

So am I. I’ve almost convinced my mom to join us, a parent is seriously considering trying it, and I talked Diana into it. Now I have to succeed!