I can’t think of a more important time for sharing stories.
Our students are living through a most historic moment as the world faces the Covid-19 global pandemic. Many of us are experiencing school closures and trying to navigate distance learning for the first time under challenging circumstances. We worry for our students and for their families. We want to stay connected to them and help them feel safe. We want them to continue learning and growing, although we know that following a strict set of lessons and adding pressure to families is likely not the approach to take.
If one of your goals is for your students to grow as writers, feel part of a community, and document this unique time in history, consider joining us for the 2020 April Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC). (Please click on the link to read more about what the challenge is and how it works if this is new to you!)
Please note: Ideally, teachers who take on the Classroom SOLSC are typically part of the March SOLSC, which is currently in progress. The March SOLSC is the chance for educators to walk the walk and live as writers. The experience of writing every day, in a community, for 31 days, is one that springboards the writing for your students. However, we recognize that at this moment in time, there may be educators out there who are looking for meaningful ways to help their students write from home. These educators may not have known about the March SOLSC and we do not want to restrict any teacher from participating who truly wants to create an enriching writing experience for students. (As you might have guessed, we aren’t a worksheet-filling, time-passing kind of community. The Classroom SOLSC is about building a life-long writing habit and being part of a community where writing is authentic and meaningful.)
How might this work for you if schools are closed and students are learning remotely?
If your students were already blogging, you can let them know that the 2020 April Classroom SOLSC is beginning soon! Use this week to generate excitement and explain the process to students. I’ve always done this face to face with my class, but this week I will have to describe the challenge to them and share the materials digitalIy. I will explain how they can earn badges by blogging and commenting on others posts. In the past, I gave students a packet where they could keep track of the posts they wrote daily and the blogs they commented on. This would help me when it was time to award digital badges. Teachers decide what rewards, if any, they will offer student bloggers who successfully take part in the challenge. I’ve designed my challenge so that students can earn badges which lead to certificates and prizes. This year, since I cannot physically give students a packet or check it, I decided to create a Google form that they would complete daily as part of the challenge.
(Feel free to use this template to create your own Google Form if you also award badges or want to keep track of student posting and commenting.)
If your students are blogging, be sure to add your name and information to our Classroom SOLSC padlet so the participating classes can connect and offer each other positive comments.
Google Classroom/ Google Docs
If you have not established blogging with your class, you might want to ask students to write their daily slice of life stories via Google Docs. You can organize this within Google Classroom. Students can have an April Slice of Life Journal where they write a story each day. Students can simply write the date before they write for the day. Teachers can comment on their stories through Google Docs. To get more comments, teachers can create writing partnerships or groups and ask students to share their writing with the children in their partnership or group. An expectation could be created to comment on each other’s work daily or a few times a week.
If you are new to Google Classroom, there are many tutorials that can walk you through setting it up for your students.
You can create a Padlet for your class and ask them to share their writing directly on it. Students could write in a journal and take a picture of their writing to post or write directly on the Padlet.
Non Digital Options
Teachers can encourage students to create a new notebook for the April Classroom SOLSC. Students can put paper together to make a notebook if one is not available. If students brought home notebooks from school, a page could be folded over and the challenge started in a new section.
Index cards/ post-its
Students might be encouraged to look for stories in everyday objects or even something they appreciate each day. This can be written on a small index card or a post it and put into a jar or container. At the end of the challenge, students and their families could read through the cards together.
Two Writing Teachers Support
Please note that any student participating in the April Classroom SOLSC needs an adult sponsor if that student is blogging and the blog is shared on our Padlet. Each Sunday, beginning on Sunday March 29th and ending on Sunday, April 27th, Marina Rodriguez and I will be sharing ideas and tips to help educators and their students who are participating in the challenge.
This presentation can be shared for a succinct description of the April Classroom SOLSC if you want to share it with educators and parents.
This is an unprecedented, daunting, frightening time for us as adults… and even more so for the children. Let us provide time, space and an audience for our students to tell their stories and connect with each other through writing. I look forward to hopefully connecting with you and your students during the April Classroom SOLSC.