This March marks the second year of the classroom edition of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, or Classroom SOLSC. If you are planning to join the challenge with your class, congratulations and welcome! We believe the benefit will be huge for your classroom community and for your students’ writing lives. Many classrooms who have undertaken the challenge reported a huge increase in engagement with writing as students posted their entries and shared and received comments from other classrooms across the globe. The following information will help you to plan for the set-up and execution of the challenge. It’s not difficult (we promise!) and the reward will be far worth the effort.
If you haven’t already done so, please commit to participating in the month-long adult SOLSC. It is crucial you are writing alongside your students. Participating in the challenge will inspire you to do a lot of writing so you can mentor your students, especially the ones who are having trouble getting started. Please remember that a slice of life story is a narrative that grows out of an ordinary moment from one’s day. Slice of life stories are about finding deeper meaning in the seemingly small events of daily life. For more on what constitutes a SOL story, click here.
Here is the essential information you’ll need to participate in our 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 12:00 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 permalink of the daily round-up of their slices on your blog. (For futher instruction on how to do this, click here.) In a nutshell, you can locate the permalink by clicking on the title of your post. Then copy and paste the unique 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 class’s 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 12:01 a.m. daily.
- Encourage your students to leave comments for other classes who are slicing. One of the reasons we started a classroom challenge last year is so we could 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 writers 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 #sol14 and #comments4kids to get your students slices noticed by more people.
Thanks to Betsy, we have a new, beautiful button for this year’s classroom challenge, in both English and Spanish. The button represents the slice of life – a small segment out of one’s day. We would love it if you would paste the button at the top of your page when you post. To download the button, right-click on the image you would like to use above, and select as “save as.”
Inspiring Your Writers
Here are some ideas to help you launch the challenge with your students:
- You might show them some of last year’s student posts, ideally on a screen, so they can see how professional the writing looks when posted on a blog.
- You might read some of your own slice of life story writing to set the tone that you are all part of a writing community.
- You might give them new notebooks or teach them how to use a digital note-taking program to inspire them. For more on digital note-taking, see Stacey’s post here.
- You might start with an inspiring quote on writing such as:
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others: read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you. ~Stephen King
Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, “Listen to me”. ~Jhumpa Lahiri
Resources and Safety
Stacey 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.
Remember to keep it safe for your students. While we 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.
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.
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. Of course, please make sure he or she stays safe and uses psydonyms too.
Finally, since I am coordinating the Classroom Challenge this year, please feel free to contact me at annagcockerilleliteracy [at] gmail.[dot]com if you have questions or hit a snag.
Have fun! Enjoy this writing journey with your students.
Questions? Please leave a comment.
Anna is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer, based in New York City. She taught internationally in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Auckland, New Zealand in addition to New York before becoming a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP). She has been an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and teaches at TCRWP where she helps participants bring strong literacy instruction into their classrooms. Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction (Heinemann, 2010).