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. 


  1. I love this chart of personal reflections and then observations of student writers ....

  2. What a fantastic idea to make this into a chart! I am shaking my head in agreement with you pinpoint insights. This is a wonderful teaching guide for writing teachers!!!!

  3. Your title of "implications for my students" could easily branch out into implications for staff. I could see you presenting this as why teachers write, or should write, (many don't) and how they can use their writing life to inspire their own students. I agree with every point you make here.

  4. This sums up how I feel about this challenge and the implications for my students better than I could have done. It's just perfect. I agree totally. It's why I keep coming back. I don't want to forget.

  5. This is so thoughtful. I agree that a table was a great way to share your insights. I think that as teachers, it's so helpful to connect our experience to our students, and you've made the connection very powerfully.

  6. Love the charting with classroom implications. You remind me to read and write with a teacher's eye.

  7. I love your chart! I have invited my third graders to the SOLCC and have been so amazed at how they have grown as writers (not all have participated and not all have really taken off, but lots!). I agree with Kim, it would make a great plug for other teachers. Thanks for sharing your thinking!

  8. My students have really taken off with the SOL challenge too! I'm curious though...I haven't been able to figure out how to embed pictures using Kidblog. Did you pay for the upgrade or are you using the free version?


  9. Your insights are so spot-on! I have written about this also, but in narrative form. I like your chart better! Such important implications for teaching.

  10. Your insights are so spot-on! I have written about this also, but in narrative form. I like your chart better! Such important implications for teaching.

  11. There you go again...setting the bar so high for the rest of us! This clearly took some time and a lot of thought to execute, but you did it anyway in your already overcrowded life. From the comments I read, you clearly have given a gift to other teachers, myself included. And I definitely think this is conference-worthy. The chart makes it all absolutely clear and easy to remember. Another task well done!

  12. My students are also doing Classroom SOL. Also using KidBlog. Also into the pictures and less into the writing. I have set an accountability requirement for my 4th graders. At least 5 complete sentence before they can picture hunt. It seems to be working most of the time and they are taking the comments to heart. I'm seeing improvement in their writing and they are anxious to do SOL each day. D :)

  13. Here are my students' slices. D :)

  14. Katherine, you captured the importance of daily writing. I remember when Laura Robb gave me that advice. I do believe that writing something daily adds to our ease in communicating. Our voice becomes more powerful as we engage in more writing while reviewing other writers' approaches.

  15. The chart you created for your reflections and the classroom implications is incredibly insightful. Everything you say is true for me. The realization that topics close to our own hearts may not resonate with everyone is a profound one. Ultimately, though, your writing is more powerful when you write about what's important to you. Thank you for sharing!

  16. This is wonderful. I am printing it out so I can read and reread it!

  17. OK.... LOVE THIS! I'm pinning it to my Pinterest school board so that I can go back to it again and again. I'm not currently in the classroom (I'm a literacy coach), but I want to go back and make a similar chart for myself at the end of March!

  18. POWERFUL chart!!!! Like Leigh Anne, I am printing it out. Thank you!


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