Well. Where do you start! Julia visited our class (and our school) in April 2016 to talk to us all about the 100 Word Challenge.
Julia arrived early on the Friday morning, and we were all hugely excited to see her! (It would have been even better had I gotten the coffee that I had promised but we’ll gloss over that) Julia spoke to our 5th Class about writing, reading, spelling, and how it is important to just write. You can always go back and fix spellings. But Julia stressed the importance of reading. Reading to expand your vocabulary. Reading to open your mind. Reading for enjoyment. Reading to give you ideas for writing. When Julia spoke, everyone – literally everyone – listened intently. Julia speaks so passionately about the importance of writing that you can’t help but listen. She also spoke about the different types of prompts, which are her favourites – and in a wonderful move, asked our class which types that we prefer and why. Some very interesting answers from that!
After that, Julia spoke to 2 other classes who were just starting out on their 100wc journey, before we all walked the short distance to meet with Ms Whelan’s Class at Mount Sion Primary School, where a 100wc workshop would be held. Unbeknownst to Julia, what had begun as a visit to 19 pupils in our class had kind of ballooned, and, as we entered the hall, despite knowing the numbers we were gathering for this, the sight of 200 boys waiting to hear Julia speak and give some tips on writing was truly overwhelming. But what a sight – 200 boys in a hall, to hear how they could improve their writing and get ideas for coming up with stories. Julia spoke to everyone about 100wc, again emphasising the importance of writing, writing for enjoyment and for an audience, not to write in some copy that would end up on a dusty shelf. Writing for enjoyment, and writing to see that work read by others, commented on by others, recommended for the weekly showcase by others.
And that is the appeal of 100wc. The reading, the commenting, the recommendations are BY OTHERS. As a young writer for 100wc, you KNOW your writing is being read. You KNOW that you are getting real comments. You KNOW that your writing is enjoyed by others and valued by other writers and readers.
When we returned to St. Stephen’s, our class interviewed Julia about 100wc. The class decided on the questions themselves, and asked them and recorded them for broadcast on our class radio station. Julia, as she had been the whole day, was fantastic and again exuded passion for writing. That interview can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/mrrussellsclass/100wc-chat-with-julia-skinner-april-22-2016
There’s also the very welcome side effect of partnering up with other schools. For the 100wc Emerald Tour, we worked with Mount Sion Primary School to plan the day. On 100wc.net, we have several partner classes that we trade comments with each week. That means that every pupil who submits a story gets at least one comment. EVERY pupil. EVERY week. You can’t replicate that kind of validation of your writing in a closed classroom setting.
Thinking of taking on the 100 Word Challenge? Stop thinking. Just do it. You won’t look back. You won’t regret it. And you will see interest in writing for enjoyment grow, you will see standard of writing increase. And you will wonder why you weren’t doing the 100wc long before now!