Slice of Life Story Challenge · SOLSC Classroom Challenge

Essential Info About the First-Ever Slice of Life Classroom Challenge

This is the official badge of the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge, which you may post on your blog if you're participating with your students.
This is the official badge of the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge, which you may post on your blog if you’re participating with your students.

This March is the first time we’re hosting an online classroom edition of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, or SOLSC.  As with anything that happens for the first time, there are bound to be bumps in the road.  However, it is my hope the information I am providing (below) will help you plan and execute a successful online challenge that allows your students to connect with other classrooms that are slicing miles apart from you.

If you haven’t already done so, please commit to participating in the month-long adult SOLSC.  It is crucial that you’re writing alongside your students.  This will give you the chance to do a lot of writing so you can mentor your students, especially the ones who are having trouble finding things to write about.  Please remember that a slice of life story is something that grows out of an ordinary moment from one’s day.  It’s about making more out of something small!

Here is the essential information you’ll need to participate in our first-ever classroom SOLSC.  There are links to past TWT blog posts.  Be sure to consult those links for more information that will help you prepare.

  • If your students are slicing from their personal blogs, please have them link their blog posts to your blog and then share the unique URL to the location of the “round up” of student slices.

  • You’ll share your STUDENTS’ writing each day on the daily CLASSROOM Slice of Life Challenge Post, which will go live every day at 12:01 a.m. EST.  Look for the post that says “Classroom SOLSC: (#) of 31”.Link your students’ posts from your blog to the daily call for classroom slice of life stories using the unique URL of the daily round-up of their slices on your blog. (For instructions on how to do this, click here.) In a nutshell, you can locate the unique URL by clicking on the title of your post and then copying and pasting the web address from the address bar at the top of your browser.  That’s the URL you should use when linking to your class’s slice of life stories.  Linking to your classes slices for the day with a unique URL is important since it makes it possible for others to return to that day’s slices even after you’ve posted new things on your blog.

    • Be sure to post the link to YOUR OWN slice of life story on the daily call for the adult challenge, which will go live at 12:03 a.m. daily.

  • Encourage your students to leave comments for other classes who are slicing.  One of the reasons we are starting a classroom challenge is so we can connect classroom writing communities around the world.  Whenever possible, encourage your students to comment on at least three other students’ slices, from other schools, every day.

    • You can also encourage them to follow a few other slicers’ blogs from other schools throughout the challenge so they can make a virtual connection with another young writer over the course of the month.

  • Please use the SAME e-mail and user name information every time you post a link to your class’s entries.   User name consistency will help you (and your class) be recognized by other teachers (and classes).

  • If you use Twitter, consider posting the link to your students slices on your personal or classroom Twitter account.  Use the hashtags #slice2013 and #comments4kids to get your students slices noticed by more people.

 A few more things:

Every time I post a call for classroom slice of life stories, I’ll share a quote that relates to the place where we are (beginning, middle, and end) in the month-long challenge.  Here are a few quotes, which you might use with your students when you introduce the idea of this online writing challenge to them.

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” -Joseph Heller

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – Napoleon Hill

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.” – Tommy Lasorda

“The steeper the mountain the harder the climb the better the view from the finishing line.” – Unknown

Remember, we are not offering prizes for the classroom challenge.  It is up to you to provide prizes for your own students.  For more thoughts on that topic, click here

For more tips about running a fantastic classroom challenge, check out Amanda Cornwell and Beth Scanlon’s guest blog posts.  Each of them has run an online classroom SOLSC.  You should also check out a post about Ruth Metcalfe’s class and how she got her students excited to take on the challenge.  All of these blog posts are valuable and will help you think about exactly how you want to execute the challenge in your classroom. 

I posted several resources for classroom challenges last year, which include parent letters about the challenge and a spreadsheet for tracking which students write daily.  Click here to go to that post so you can download those resources.

If you know of a child or young adult (e.g., a family member, neighbor, kid from your community) who is not in your class, but is interested in taking on this challenge, then you can encourage him/her to link his/her slice of life story to the daily call for slices.

A special thank you to Julie Johnson who spent some time chatting with me on the phone about the classroom SOLSC she ran with her students last year.  Julie is a master teacher.  Do check out her blog and/or follow her on Twitter so you can learn more from her.

Remember to keep it safe for your students.  While I believe the people who participate in our Challenge are good people, it takes place in the public domain. Anyone will be able to access the link to your blog, which will serve as the landing page where you’ll round-up your students’ daily slice of life stories.  Please make sure your students are using pseudonyms and aren’t disclosing identifying information.  Amanda and Beth talked more about this in their posts, but because kids are involved, I think it bears mentioning again.

Have fun!  Enjoy this writing journey with your students.

Questions?  Please leave a comment.

12 thoughts on “Essential Info About the First-Ever Slice of Life Classroom Challenge

  1. I’m still not sure HOW I am going to do it….but I want my grad students…literacy specialists to be taking a course on teaching writing….to also participate in this challenge…I was thinking of having them link to me if they were hesitant to link to SOL directly……looking for ideas!!!!!!?????


  2. Are students each writing daily? Or are classrooms blogging daily with rotating bloggers? I might be able to pull of the latter but can’t manage the former.

    March is also our ELA standardized test month and I actually take two weeks of instructional time to teach the open response essay form as a “genre of writing” so that may pose challenges. (I know I know, teaching to the test isn’t admirable, but it’s so artificial – no audience, no process – that it has worked out better in reducing student confusion and stress to manage it this way.)

    Any thoughts others have about student SOLC participation would help. I’m quite ambivalent about taking it on and wonder if it might make more sense to observe it this year and implement it next year..


    1. @Kath: Ideally, students should be writing daily. The SOLSC began in my classroom in 2008 when I proposed a 31 day writing challenge to my students (more on that at HOWEVER, it’s better to have students do some writing, especially during a month that’s heavy on test preparation. Therefore, I’d say that you should find a way to make it work for you and your students.


  3. Thanks for including the students in the round up this year. I have set up a kidblog for my students. I think this will only need to be one link to get to all my students’ blogs. My concern is our network blocker. We cannot access any blog sites from school except kidblogs. I can ask my students to comment from home, but this is not ideal. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you plan to deal with it?


    1. @Margaret: Is there any way you can have a few of the other classrooms blogs unblocked, once the SOLSC begins, by giving those URLs to your tech people? Or maybe there’ll be a couple other classes you can connect with on Kidblogs. I guess time will tell…
      On a related note, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal last month about kids going to McDonalds to access the free wifi there, Just thought I’d throw the link to this article your way since it’s a possible solution if they don’t have internet access at home (and you cannot access the other blogs at school).


      1. I have been successful in the past appealing to the tech department, so I can sure give it a shot once we get started. We have free wifi in a few places around town, Starbucks, the library. I’ll have to check on the Micky Ds. I do know that one of my students doesn’t have a computer. Of course, none of these little bumps will keep us from doing the challenge. I think I have made it manageable to my students by only requiring 3 posts a week and 2 comments. If they blog more than 16 times in the month (the number of days we have class), then they will receive a prize. I’m sending parent letters home this week.


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