Count Your Words and Be #Wordtastic! - National Council of Teachers of English
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Count Your Words and Be #Wordtastic!

This post is written by member Emily Green. 

EmiGreenMy daughter entered the fabulously fast-paced world of first grade this year. She comes home each day with knowledge spilling out of every pore. Car rides home are filled with enthusiastic lessons on reptiles and the super cool class pet, Needle the Snake. She proudly recounts mornings of mindfulness and yoga, afternoons en español. And, most recently, she excitedly tells of this miraculous device called a pedometer. Their gym teacher, Mrs. H, instructs students to put on pedometers at the start of gym class, and by the end of the period, pedometers are returned to their plastic bin after students celebrate their number of steps taken. My daughter, always game for healthy competition, brags about her numbers constantly. While part of me wants to caution against hubris, that part is loudly overtaken by my unmistakable joy at her pure sense of accomplishment.

As a middle school English language arts teacher, I see glimpses of this same sentiment in my own students. And, while I would like to say my students rejoice in a particularly well-crafted sentence or an expertly chosen sensory detail, those celebrations are few and far between. More likely, the genuine grins appear and the bragging begins in earnest when the calculations commence. As Miss Bennet would say, it is a truth universally acknowledged—numbers matter! When it comes to vocabulary learning, my students are at their best stockpiling points and earning badges on When National Novel Writing Month arrives in November, my students keep tabs on their word counts as they craft their own novels. They painstakingly set and reset word count goals that they shout from the proverbial rooftops.

As the National Day on Writing draws nearer, why not indulge our students’ undeniable love of numbers in the name of the written word? This year, the entire middle school population at my school will keep “logometers” and faithfully log every word written that day, so long as it is written with the intent to make meaning. In the spirit of writing as a community endeavor, we will offer parents and other members of our school community the chance to pledge their commitment to keeping a logometer on October 20th as well. And, of course, I would like to extend an invitation to any and all educators, students, and their families to participate in this fun exercise in linguistic fitness! Log your words for the day. You can keep the number to yourself, but if you feel the need to brag, tweet your total with #wordtastic. I will be tweeting my school’s grand total, and I can’t wait to see how the competition shapes up! Let the writing frenzy begin!

Emily Green is a middle school English language arts teacher at Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ohio. She enjoys linguistic exercise on a daily basis.