celebration · challenges · collaboration · mentoring · writing workshop

Growing Writers, One Challenge at a Time

This year, our class motto has been “Push through the struggle.”  Initially a mantra of one student, but quickly became the motto of the community.  These are the words used to encourage each other to persevere in all learning tasks. The Slice Of Life Story Challenge was no exception!

My first-grade writers participated in the Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC).  Writing for 31 days is a feat to be commended for any writer.  There were no prizes or incentives, other than the open invitation to the weekly writer’s lunch. Even this was a choice some declined.  Over the years, I have witnessed growth in all the writers who’ve participated in the challenge, but there was something more this year.

The changes I noticed, and continue to see, are significant and everlasting.

The Writers We Have Become:

  • We are disciplined writers.  Writing from home and in any spare minute, we can steal in our day.
  • We are interactive, connected writers.  We are commenting to our friends and responding to those who leave us comments.
  • We are independent writers.  Writing from home in the evenings, on the weekends, and during spring break.
  • We are reflective writers.  We know where we work best, what we want to practice, and what our strengths are.
  • We are members of a writing community.  We share a passion and knowledge about one another as writers, friends, and classmates.
  • We are regular writers.  We write each day; we expect to write daily, and we write for a purpose.
  • We are writers who write for an audience.  We include events and craft to make our writing interesting.
  • We are brave writers.  We try to spell words that are hard.  We push through the struggles writers encounter.
  • We write with purpose.  We have a message we want to tell others, so we write it down.


Relationships Grow Writers:

Participating in SOLSC made writing publicly and interacting with readers a part of our daily routine.  Writers became aware of the audience on the other side of the screen; writing became social, and as writers we became members of a larger community.

Early in our SOLSC, @MHaseltine’s class of sixth-grade writers, who also joined the challenge, took us under their wing.  Comments from Ms. Haseltine’s bloggers were our first glimpses that we had someone reading our writing.  Not only did these comments tell us we had readers, but they also said someone outside of our classroom, family, or friend group understood our writing.  The influence this relationship had on us as writers shaped our writing and our feelings about writing. There is such an individual teacher’s pride when you witness writers learning they have readers, and their readers have questions for the author.  Visit Michelle’s blog, One Grateful Teacher to read the story from the other side of the screen.  Michelle shares the 6th-grade experience of her writers in our friendship and other collaborative relationships.


Today is a day my students will remember for years to come; today is the day we meet our writing mentors.

As we prepared for today’s Google Hangout, students were filled with energy.  Some shouted out names of students they hoped o meet; others grabbed iPads to hunt for the commenters and bloggers they wanted to meet.  Watch for our tweets from @Frazier1st to share in our special day!


15 thoughts on “Growing Writers, One Challenge at a Time

  1. Deb, this is such important work you’re doing. I wish I could send my daughters to your classroom for first grade. So meaningful.

    As a side note, please tell your class that I loved Nerdy Birdy as well. Our whole school is reading it, and I’m reviewing it in June. I’d love to talk to them about it sometime!


  2. When you wrote, “The Writers We Have Become”, I felt this could be many of the SOL Challenge writers as well…at least that is how I feel. How special to hear about your first grade students. (No excuses now for my 5th grade class.) Also, a shout out to Michelle and her class for being your writing buddy class-that had to have been so encouraging to your young writers!


  3. What a wonderful experience for the two classes. The power of response and knowing there is an audience for your writing is immeasurable. This partnership is impressive!


  4. You’re doing life-changing work in your corner of the world, Deb! Your class has learned so much about who they are as people and as writers in the past month alone. It’s incredible. Wow. Just wow!

    I’m delighted your class will be linking-up with Michelle’s class day. What a wonderful partnership the two of you created with your students this year. Bravo to both of you.


  5. I think the partnership you formed with each other made a huge impact on the success of the experience. I’m curious what platform was used for blogging. Thank you to TWT and Michelle for so openly sharing, motivating, and inspiring. I’m off to check out Michelle’s link now.


  6. It was an amazing experience, and it continues. My students can’t wait for our meeting today! We have questions ready and we are so excited!! This relationship has been such a gift and something I’ll never forget. Thanks for the beautifully written post, Deb!!


  7. Deb, I’d love to know more about how you structured your first grade class’s participation. I considered it briefly for my first grade class, but was daunted by the logistics. Have you shared how you set this up or could you? Having an older mentor class comment on posts is a brilliant idea! Thanks! I’m off to read Michelle’s perspective.


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