Virtual Classroom How-To

Your on-site virtual classroom allows you to hold class discussions and monitor students’ novel progress. It’s a powerful tool with lots of helpful features, and we’ve done our best to explain all of them below.

If you need additional assistance with your virtual classroom, please contact us via the email link on the Help & FAQ page.

Make students "winners" and award/remove badges.

Educators can manually make students winners or award/remove badges that students didn't officially earn on the site. For example, if a student wrote every day, but not in the writing space, an educator could manually award them the 30 Consecutive Writing Days badge. Or if a student met their goal a few days after the deadline, an educator could manually award them the NaNoWriMo Winner trophy badge. The deadline for making changes is December 14. 

  1. Go to "My Classroom," then click into your "Class List." 

  2. To make a student a winner who didn't officially meet their goal, click on the grayed out trophy icon next to their name in the tools column. 

  3. To award or remove badges (including the Winner trophy) to or from a student, click the now gold winner trophy icon to go straight to their badges at the bottom of their writing space. You can also get here by clicking into their novel and scrolling down to the bottom of their writing space. Click on a badge to award or remove it. 

Create a virtual classroom.

  1. Click “Create Your Classroom” (look for the rocket graphic) on your website dashboard to get started.

  2. Enter as much information about your classroom as you’d like. IMPORTANT DETAIL: Be sure to provide a personalizing educator name—students will want to be sure it’s your classroom when they enroll.

  3. If you are facilitating the Young Writers Program for students under 13, you must also review and agree to a Parent Proxy Agreement.

Create multiple classrooms.

Right now, there's no way to create multiple classrooms using the same educator account. We realize that's a useful feature and hope to change it in the future. In the meantime, here's what you can do:

  1. Create multiple YWP educator accounts. Make your usernames something meaningful and easy to remember, like "Ms_A_Period2" or "Greenleaf_5th_Grade."

  2. Some email platforms, including Gmail, allow you to add "+" and then a word or a number before the "@" sign in your email to create multiple accounts without having many different email addresses. For example, if Ms. A's email were "," she could sign up for 3 separate YWP educator accounts using the emails "," "," and ""

  3. Create a separate classroom for each of your educator accounts. 

Enroll students in your virtual classroom.

  1. Click on My Classroom in the top navigation menu.

  2. Find your classroom’s unique access code beneath your class name and description. Your students will use this code to join your class. Email it, write it on the board, or send it to them telepathically… it’s up to you.

  3. After students have signed up for an account, have them click “Join Your Classroom” (look for the viking graphic) on their website dashboard, then enter your classroom access code. Upon entering the code correctly, students are instantly enrolled in your classroom.

Enroll additional educators in your virtual classroom.

  1. Additional educators working with your class need to first create educator accounts, then click “Become an educator in an existing classroom” (look for the rocket graphic) on their website dashboard to get started. IMPORTANT DETAIL: They won't see this if they’re already part of a classroom. Educators can only be in one classroom at a time.

  2. The additional educator types the classroom code you provide (the same code used to enroll students), then joins your classroom.

  3. To give the additional educator administrative power in your classroom, click “Class List” at the top of your classroom view. Then, click the "person-plus" icon next to their name in the Tools column.

  4. Once an educator has administrative powers, they can’t leave a classroom. Another educator must go to the Class List to remove them.

Use your classroom messaging space.

You can post announcements, facilitate class discussions, and directly message students through your virtual classroom. Here’s how.


Create Classroom Posts

  1. Your virtual classroom’s messaging space comes with three default topics: Announcements, Assignments, and Novel Chat. To create a post for one of these topics, click its button in the Topics panel.

  2. Type your post in the box that reads “Write your message here.”

  3. Click “Post.” All educator posts appear with a green “bookmark” corner to differentiate them.

  4. To reply to a classroom post, click the arrow icon in the post container then type your response.


Edit Classroom Posts

  1. To edit a classroom post, click the pencil icon in the post container.

  2. Update the text, then click “Post” again. Or, click “Remove this post” to delete it from view.

  3. To emphasize a classroom post, click the bullhorn icon to change its background color. Click the bullhorn icon again to revert it back.


Create Classroom Topics

  1. Click the plus sign in the Topics panel.

  2. Name your new topic, and select a color. You can also choose to limit posts in your new topic to educators only by checking “Educator Posts Only.” IMPORTANT DETAIL: Students can post and reply to all default and new topics unless you click the “Educator Posts Only” option.

  3. Click “Create Topic.”


Edit Classroom Topics

  1. In the Topics panel, click the button for the topic you’d like to edit.

  2. On the colored banner for the topic, click the wrench icon in the upper right.

  3. Once your edits are complete, click “Save Changes.” If you'd like to delete the topic, click “Delete this topic.”


Send Direct Messages

  1. Click a student’s profile image in the Direct Messages panel.

  2. Type your direct message in the field that reads “Write your message here,” then click “Post.” Only you and the student can see this exchange.

  3. If a student sends you a direct message, you'll see a blue notification over their profile picture in the Direct Messages panel.

IMPORTANT DETAIL: Students can also send direct messages to each other. You might want to explicitly teach them when and how to use this feature. It’s an opportunity to teach responsible internet behavior and time management (since direct messages don’t count toward word-count goals!).


Messaging Space Suggestions

  • Announce daily goals or updates.
  • Give writing challenges.
  • Focus the day’s writing around a certain assignment (like using sensory details or writing dialogue).
  • Celebrate student success.
  • Have students post questions, obstacles they’re facing, or advice they’d like to give.
  • Have students encourage each other, or challenge each other to dares!
  • Let students post one sentence or a summary from their daily writing.
  • More topics you might want to create: Obstacles, Celebrations, Sentence Shares, Questions, Inspiration, Dares.


Manage students and their novels.

When students join your virtual classroom, you gain administrative powers over their accounts (including usernames, passwords, and profile information) and novels.


View Students at a Glance

  1. Click on My Classroom in the top navigation menu.

  2. At the top of your classroom view, click “Class List.”

  3. In this view, you can see all your enrolled students, their novel titles, and their word-count progress. You can also see any fellow educators who manage your classroom (click the icon in the Tools column to give them administrative powers).


Read or Edit Student Novels

  1. On the Class List page, click a student’s novel title or cover to open their novel. You have access to all chapters and notes to view their work.

  2. To edit a students’ novel, click the wrench icon to the far right of the novel title. This allows you to update the word-count goal, novel title, synopsis, and genres.

  3. IMPORTANT DETAIL: The student writing space is not designed for real-time collaboration. You can type in a student’s novel, but you risk overwriting their work. If you’d like to comment in a student’s novel, arrange to do so when they have finished a chapter and/or at a time when they are not actively writing.

  4. Read more in the Writing Space How-To.


Edit Student Accounts and Profiles

  1. On the Class List page, click the wrench in the Tools column next to a student's name to open their Profile & Settings page.

  2. Update any necessary fields, including username, profile information, and password. IMPORTANT DETAIL: We expect educators to use this administrative power responsibly. You should only update students’ information if it violates your classroom policy or our Codes of Conduct, and you should only update account settings to troubleshoot student site access.

  3. Click “Save Profile & Settings” at the bottom of the page.


Remove Students

  1. On the Class List page, find the student you’d like to remove.

  2. In the Tools column, click the X icon.

  3. Click “Remove Student” to confirm.

Challenge other classes to Word Wars.

Track your class's word-count goal progress against other class's. Competition can be a great motivator! 

  1. Find a class (or classes) you'd like to compete with. You can compete with classes in your school, or with classes around the world. Check out the educator forums to make connections with other interested educators.

  2. Share contact info with the educator(s) of the class(es) you're competing with. One educator makes a copy of this sheet and shares it with the other class(es) in the competition. Important detail: Make sure all educators have the power to edit the copied sheet. 

  3. Each teacher follows the directions on the sheet to input their class's data. Note - there's one tab to input data, and another tab with a progress chart to show students. Let the competition begin!