Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Happens in the Classroom...

What happens when you turn loose 119 eighth graders during the month of November to write with reckless abandon--free of strict rules and boundaries? 1,784,571 words! And what does an English teacher do on December 1st with over a million collected words? She teaches the art of revision and scouts out novels that show streaks of brilliance that may one day land on an agent's desk, as was the case a few years ago with my noveling golden child, Kyle Jones with his sci-fi drama entitled, "The Dragonboard Conspiracy."

And then there is Keri Kodama, a senior now, who has dillgently worked at not only the novel she started in my class four years ago, but also a second novel--both of which I am sure will find their way onto the best-seller lists of the future.

Now if you do your math right, you will see that this year's students averaged 14,996 words each. Most of them kept their counts as close to the 10,000-word requirement as possible, but three of them not only broke the prestigious 50,000 word "winner" status, but climbed to word counts that exceed most adult NaNo-ers. Here's the scoop on these three literary prodigies:

Mary Yeh's Nearly Departed (100,435 words)
Alex Mai's (81,960 words)
Bri'el Kashiwamura's Bittersweet Melancholy (81,936 words)

What's all the more impressive is that beyond their heavy-weight word counts, these three authors have written complete plot-driven stories that have do-able revision potential.

I guess you could say I have made it my quest as a teacher to never underestimate what a student can do with just a little bit (okay, a lot) of motivation...and perhaps a little bit (okay, a lot) of prayer.


  1. Wow! An average of 14,996 words per student(median number available?)?? That's a lot! 80k-100k words?! That is a LOT. That's roughly 320-400 MS Word (default formatting) pages!
    ..all done in 8th grade! WOW.

  2. ... so an english teacher spells guess like "gues".. lol.
    wow, now i know why you couldn't give the back right then. I was confused about why it took so long, but i didn't really ever think about it. by the way (i still remember the 'lesson' from this page), can i have my story back?
    Micah '12

  3. Micah, that's called a TYPO...we all make them once in a while...especially us dedicated English teachers who try to inspire our students to write novels that we can never grade because we're...English teachers! just have no Anyway, you should have saved your story on your computer and on a flashdrive as I so instructed everyone to do, but if you would like me to locate yours, then you are welcomed to come by my classroom for it...if you're willing to help me find it because...again...I'm an ENGLISH TEACHER with a wildly busy life!

  4. Go Mrs.Tenney!! I can tell you have a busy life you come to school in a rush lol no offence tho

  5. haha okay

    ~Micah '12