From Student to Author: Engaging Gifted Learners in the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program

From Student to Author: Engaging Gifted Learners in the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program

Nancye Blair Black (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6489-0.ch009

Abstract

Students develop and compose a long narrative story each November in a challenge called the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program (NaNoWriMo YWP). In Fall 2011, 16 gifted fourth and fifth graders participated through their twice-weekly pull-out gifted programming. Through use of a three-phase program implementation, NaNoWriMo YWP resources and online community, dynamic technology tools, and extended blocks of uninterrupted writing time, these students engaged in advanced writing instruction and practices in order to meet/surpass a personal narrative writing goal. Each of the participating gifted students met the school's learning objectives by identifying and applying advanced writing skills and improving knowledge and application of a personal goal-setting process. This chapter outlines the program's alignment with best practices in gifted education, the program implementation's educational goals/objectives, the specific strategies and practices used in implementing the program, the outcomes to student learning, and recommendations for gifted educators.
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Setting The Stage

McKeel Elementary Academy provides a special instruction program to its students who are gifted. The state of Florida defines the gifted as “one who has superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance” (“6A-6.03019,” 2002). According to Florida’s Plan for K-12 Gifted Education, in order to be eligible for gifted services in the state of Florida, generally speaking, a student’s evaluation must demonstrate a “need for a special instructional program, evidence of characteristics of the gifted, and [an] evaluation documenting intellectual development,” including a score of 130 or higher on a qualifying IQ measure (Florida Department of Education (FL DOE), 2013b).

At the time of this program implementation, once students at MEA were identified as gifted, they were typically staffed into the school’s gifted pull-out classes (FL DOE, 2013b, p. 42). The classes took place in the school’s computer lab twice weekly, each for one hour. During this time, students engaged in a variety of independent and cooperative learning activities aimed at mastering critical and creative thinking skills, extending learning beyond the general education curriculum, and working toward other goals or skills identified in the students’ Educational Plans (EP). During the 2011-2012 school year in the course of these pull-out classes, sixteen fourth and fifth grade gifted students participated in the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program.

As the Technology and Gifted Specialist for the school, I taught the gifted students, both during their general education classes’ weekly technology classes, as well as for the two weekly homogenous gifted pull-out classes. My educational certifications included both Elementary Education (K-6) and a Gifted Endorsement (K-12). While I served as the lead teacher for the National Novel Writing Month implementation, feedback regarding the students’ attitudes and proficiencies in writing and task completion was additionally garnered from their general education teachers.

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