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January 18, 2020

12/24/2019 10:19:00 AM
Young Highland writers looking to be published

By Carley Rider
Nine years ago, Mr. Boylen found a perfect opportunity for his young writers to increase their writing ability while enjoying what they are writing. NANOWRIMOYWP- National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program, which provides students with some materials to help keep track of progress and goals. When Scott Boylen first started teaching middle school language arts at Highland Schools last year, he assigned his then 6th graders the project of writing a 1,000 word picture book. At his previous school, Boylen had assigned 10,000 word novella projects to his 7th and 8th graders, but saw it best fit to take a year to adjust to the new school.
Students spend four weeks writing their first drafts of the books but put much more time into building their stories. Students start by doing pre-writing to develop plot, well-rounded characters, to learn how to write proper dialog, among other things. After their story writing is complete students then are tasked with making the book complete such as writing acknowledgments, a preface, and a table of contents.
This project is very beneficial as it applies to the Wisconsin state standard of longer form writing for students, boosts self-esteem in young writers, and helps to completely flip any negativity associated with writing from students. Students learn how to better structure their writing whether it be an essay or a 10,000 word novela. Writing a longer piece also helps students to build stamina when writing. When students were asked what they have learned so far, some answers include: "writing more than just an essay," "how important it is to meet deadlines," "to be creative," and "how to use time wisely." This project also allows students from different schools to collaborate in writing their stories.
Students are given the chance to be creative by building their stories entirely by themselves while still offering assistance as needed. A Highland 7th grade student named Wes, chose to write about a hunting trip in Canada gone wrong. He was inspired by his passion for hunting and a recent trip up north. Another Student named John wrote about a son and father that made a deal allowing the son to play basketball only if he went into the military. John's inspiration was in his passion for basketball and his interest in learning about conflicts and wars involving the United States. Yezlin is writing about surviving in a swamp and how to avoid being eaten by crocodiles. Her idea came from different shows and books that involved crocodiles. Kaiton is writing her novella about a girl and her journey through fighting type one diabetes. She found this project to be the perfect way to tell her own story of being a type one diabetic and the challenges she has been faced with. Tyson chose to write his story about a family that travels to San Francisco just before an earthquake and the problems they are faced with. His inspiration was books and movies about earthquakes. Izzy is writing about a girl and her friends on a trip to Georgia and the unexpected problems they are faced with. She was inspired by her family's camping trips and her home state of Georgia.
Writing a novella in this program is very rewarding for students. It allows students to become true published writers at such a young age. With their stories being published, students have an authentic audience with the chance of reaching thousands of readers, something most students never get the chance of doing. Students feel accomplished and have something to prove all of the hard work and effort they put into writing their novellas. Novellas published by the students also get an ISBN (international standard book number) in the Library of Congress.
When students were asked what being printed/published would mean to them students most often said that it allows them to see how far they have come as writers and in the future will serve as a reminder of what they have since accomplished. Students were also excited to have a larger audience than they have ever had.Being a published writer is a huge feat, especially at such a young age. Many adults cannot boast the title of being a published writer, something these students hope they get the chance to do.
In order for books to be published, the students must be sponsored to cover the costs of printing and publishing. Last year, the Highland Lions Club took it upon themselves to cover the costs wholly. This year, Mr. Boylen is hoping for more sponsors as there are two other grades participating this year with higher costs to be printed. Mr. Boylen asks that anyone interested in helping the highland middle schoolers be published contact him at his school email:

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