How I Use It
I have not yet used this with students, but now plan to because of how closely it coincides with my units on teaching literary/plot elements through short stories. The workbook, which can be ordered or downloaded as a pdf, has everything you need to teach the parts of a story, and has activities that are very specific to the common core standards. For example, if I am teaching the students about mood, there are worksheets that reinforce this topic, and ask them to create the mood for their story. The same holds true for setting, characters, plot, and dialogue. I would use all of the pre-writing activities and sheets in October (when I was going to teach these concepts anyway), and see them as being great for homework. This would serve two purposes: reinforcement of the current skill/topic, and brainstorming for their novel.
I think this is an exciting project and teaching tool. It makes the challenge of writing a novel accessible for students and can lead to pride in their success at something which could seem so daunting. What I particularly liked is that all students can be successful since they will set their own word count, and differentiation in instruction can occur when conferencing with students about their current progress and drafts. There are also fun contracts, coupons, and goal setting sheets that put the accountability on the students, as well as certificates to print for participants. I also like that there are several ways to keep families involved. For example, students can get input from family members when filling out questionnaires on their characters, and there is a letter to send home to families at the beginning of the project. Whether or not students complete their novel, the process is valuable to reinforce concepts. I gave the support section a rating of 4 because I anticipate that some of the activities will be difficult for less advanced students, and there is a lot of reading that contains some sophisticated language on some of the sheets.