Novelmania: TM Roberts grade 6 students unveil published novels

Novelmania: TM Roberts grade 6 students unveil published novels

Novel unveiling ceremony at TM Roberts’ library on Monday, February 19

Paul Rodgers

On Monday, February 19 head down to TM Roberts’ library to hear samples from the work of Cranbrook’s newest published authors.

Bruce McAnerney’s sixth grade class at TM Roberts have been working on very unique projects corresponding with National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO), a website used by many aspiring authors as a motivator to write every day.

The kids set attainable writing goals for the month and extrapolated the amount they could comfortably write in a 45 minute session into their total monthly target. So some of them chose to write between five and ten thousand words for their total novel, while others shot for around 2,000.

“The neat thing about this website is every time you meet one of your milestones which is every ten per cent of your target the fireworks go across the screen and it kind of makes a jingle,” said McAnerney. “And it’s kind of exciting for the kids, it’s a little mini celebration for getting ten per cent of the way, 20 per cent of the way to your target.”

The kids began the project by dispensing of their “inner editor.”

“I physically walked into an old storage portable here at the school and the kids had drawn little monsters and little pictures of little devilish looking creatures that they called their inner editors and we literally placed them in a bin in the storage room for a month.”

The idea behind this was for the kids to focus solely on writing, not going back to edit or revise anything until they’ve reached the finish line. When November 30 rolled around, heralding the end of the writing month, they walked back into the portable to retrieve their inner editors and begin the editing stages of their drafts.

After a couple weeks of editing, they were left with a finished product, which they then transferred to a website called www.blurb.com — a popular site used for publishing books, oftentimes photo books.

With this site, the kids were able to customize the format of their paperbacks, designing the front covers, adding about-me sections to the back with their own photos and importing their own graphics.

“They look very professional, like a book that you would see in a book store off the shelf and that’s essentially what we have done. And the kids of course are chomping at the bit to see their finished product that came in a few days ago.”

The kids will have to wait for the unveiling ceremony at the actual event on Monday evening to see their books and each of them will have a chance to read their favourite passage to the audience.

McAnerney said the students were pretty excited about the project right from the get-go. He knew that some of the students in the class really didn’t enjoy writing very much while another group of them already wrote creatively as a hobby and they inspired each other.

He said that he created a 25 minute writing opportunity before school that at least 12 students attended each day.

“I didn’t have to do much of a sales pitch,” he said. “I already had about 17 or 18 kids that listed at the beginning of the year that creative writing and writing stories was a hobby of theirs that they enjoyed, so the non-writers … it was a contagious energy that just kind of spread to all of them.”

He worked the whole project into his curriculum; doing mini lessons, working on the writing process from brainstorming through character development and plot.

McAnerney said that he has never in his 23 years of teaching seen a project quite like this, where a whole class produces novels.

“It’s gonna be a glossy, published, bound book,” he said. “It’s going to stay intact and they’ll keep it in a safe spot, and it’s going to be one of those projects that they’re going to look back at with great fondness after they’ve graduated from our school system. It’s going to be one of their things that’s going to be on their book shelves with a special memory that’s going to stay with them.”