Teaching Writing, Learning Writing

Like many of you who read this blog and participate in the weekly Slice of Life challenge, I’m thinking about the upcoming March SOL story challenge. This is the fourth time I’ll participating in the March SOLSC.  And I’m going to tell you a secret. During two of the last three month-long challenges, I haven’t met the write-every-day-for-31-days goal. I’ve come close, but I’ve missed a few days. Why? Because I got stuck, or ran out of steam, or, gasp, I just didn’t feel like writing.

Just like our students sometimes get stuck and run out of steam and -gulp- sometimes don’t feel like writing.

Writing motivation often comes down to ideas, inspiration, and energy. I decided to go in search of all three, before March 1st.

  • I’ve stepped up my notebook game. It goes everywhere with me these days.
    • When I have a thought, I write it down immediately, before it is gone.
    • When I read a line I love and find inspiring, I write it in the notebook.
    • I’m making plans and taking notes and jotting ideas there regularly.

Perhaps some concentrated mid-year notebook time could help our writers replenish their writing energy and bank of ideas.


Thinking about #SOL17 ideas in my notebook.

  • I’ve been snapping more photographs. Anything that catches my eye. The bowl full of artichoke leaves after the feast, the dog’s romp through the leaves on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the messy junk drawer. I’m storing them in an album on my phone labeled “SOL#17.”  You can bet some of these will turn into slices next month.

Maybe it’t time to take a class period to explore and document with iPads. Gathering images for ideas for future pieces could provide writers with new inspiration.


When I opened my junk drawer to clean it out, I snapped a photo and thought “I could write about this!”

  • I’m making more time for reading. And I’m reading like a writer as often as not. When I come across a line I love, I write it down- in my notebook, or in the Notes app on my phone.

We can remember to be intentional about pointing out writing we admire. We can wonder aloud about how we might try something similar in our own writing.

  • I’m rereading a few of my favorite pieces on my own blog, as well as articles and posts I saved in my Pocket app. Don’t have Pocket? Get it. It’s a terrific place to store pieces you come across on social media.

We can give our students time to look back through old pieces in their folders, and previous entries in their notebooks, teaching them how to mine those places for new ideas.

  • I’m  pulling out some of my favorite resources and books that have writing ideas and notebook tips, and flagging pages I might want to look at during the March SOLSC.

We can share old anchor charts and invite students to look back through them. If they have teacher created charts or notes from minilessons in their notebooks, we can encourage them to review those when they are stuck or looking for ideas.


Some of my favorite books with notebook tips and writing ideas.

I’m getting ready for the March SOLSC and I hope you are too. But more importantly, I’m walking the walk as a teacher of writers. I’m writing, thinking about writing, and making plans for my writing. And all the while, I’m learning to be a stronger teacher of writers.