Sunday, March 22, 2015

On Slicing and Classroom Implications #sol15 Day 22

Write, Share, Give
I am really so grateful to the Two Writing Teachers- Stacy, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, and Tara, for creating this Slice of Life Challenge, which is surely a great deal of work and management, but is life-changing for so many of us.  I wanted to reflect a bit on what I've noticed about writing in the last 22 days and what it might mean for my students. 

I first wrote this in narrative form, but then I revised it as a table to better show how my personal connections can lead to classroom implications. 


My noticings about the Slice of Life Challenge
Classroom Implications for my 3rd graders
The freedom to come up with my own topic makes the writing personally meaningful.
It still remains true: students need to self-select their topics the majority of the time for the writing to be meaningful.  Students need help seeing the possibilities for topics in their lives.
Comments from other readers makes it much more motivating to write and share.
I need to give feedback more often and sooner on their writing and provide opportunities for students to comment on each other’s writing.  We use Kidblog for blogging and I need to teach into thoughtfully commenting on another’s piece.
Not every piece resonates with other readers but I have to stay true to my heart. (I can see how many people read each post.  The ones about my kids get way less visits than the ones about teaching.  I’ve actually considered changing topics to get more “hits” on my blog and then stopped myself from being ridiculous. I have to write what matters to me.)
Share this with students! Let them know that sometimes readers will really pick up on something in their reading and love it but there are other times their writing won’t get a lot of praise or interest.  If what they wrote matters to them, then that is okay.  It’s like being a baseball player- not every up at bat will yield a home run but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t swing anyway and enjoy the experience of playing.
I really enjoy being able to integrate pictures, videos, and quotes from other books and places into my writing.
Using a site like Kidblog allows students that opportunity, too.  I’ve found my students go crazy in the picture galleries and waste a lot of time finding funny pictures and not doing the actual writing, so I would have to teach them how a picture or video could add to their writing, not replace it.
The challenge feels do-able because there is an end in sight, otherwise it might feel overwhelming and daunting to have to write and post each day. But now that I am in the daily habit of writing, I know I will continue blogging much more than I would have if I hadn’t participated in this challenge.
I am considering creating a blogging challenge for my third graders for the month of April.  I am hoping they will “catch the writing bug” and want to continue, as I do, when the challenge is over.  While I might not blog every single day, I know I will blog much more often than I did before starting this challenge.  Maybe that will happen for them, too.
Writing every day has made my writing better and connecting with other teachers and writers has made me feel part of a community.
Students need time to write. I wanted to write each day- how do I make them WANT to write each day too and not feel like a chore that they just "phone in" to get it done? How do we find time to share our writing when we don’t have enough time as is? I am thinking I need to utilize writing groups and writing partnerships more often for more immediate feedback, as well as encouraging more writing on Kidblog.  The writing, sharing, and commenting more often would most likely create the feeling of community among my students. 
Reading other “slices” has helped my writing improve and given me more to think about.  It’s made me feel less alone and more connected. Writing slices where I share things I’m struggling with has also made me feel less alone and has been comforting.
Reading and writing are important for intrapersonal and interpersonal development.  We tap into our own ideas, worries, and hopes and when we share that with others or read about others ideas, worries, and hopes we lose that sense of isolation and fear.  Students need to feel safe to be vulnerable in their writing.


Writing in this challenge has led me to personal and professional discoveries and insights, has made me feel part of a special community, and has inspired me to make writing more meaningful for my students. The Slice of Life Challenge has become something I look forward to doing each day.  In many ways, this challenge has renewed my love of writing and my passion for helping students find their voices, too.