The Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge at Home: Advice for Families
What a time we’re living in right now.
Usually, readers of Two Writing Teachers are teachers and literacy coaches. However, this post is as much for families at home with kids as it is for teachers.
As a parent who is also an educator, I’ve been amazed at my own children’s teachers. They have jumped into distance learning, each teacher in their own way. I’ve also been overwhelmed with the task of how to get my two kids, ages six and ten to read, write, and do math each day at home while also getting my own work done. Some days have been great, other days, not-so-great.
My ten year-old is planning to do the April Classroom Slice of Life Challenge, so I thought I’d share some of my tips, from a parent perspective, so that teachers and families of students reading this post can feel like it’s doable.
Idea #1: Post a Schedule for the Day
Something that has been super helpful so far in our house is to display our schedule for the day. I have a big chalkboard that I write it on, but it could easily go on a scrap of paper on the fridge, or whatever works for you at your house.
At our house, there have already been multiple times when my kids have resisted an activity, for example writing. But when I point to our schedule and say, “But that’s what the schedule says is next!” it works some kind of magic and my kids give in. The schedule says it is so. It’s not just mom versus kids. It’s schedule magic.
Idea #2: Sit With Your Child to Pick Out a Blogging Template
A few days ago I sat side-by-side with my daughter and showed her a few different options for a blogging template. I really like WordPress or Blogger because they are free and easy to set up. You just go to the website and follow the directions, really. Your child’s teacher may already have a blogging platform set up for students – you can email them to find out. Once you’ve set up a basic blog with your child, and the Classroom Challenge begins, you can also contact the support person listed in the Two Writing Teachers daily calls for slices if you need help fine-tuning your kid’s blog.
Additionally, I recommend choosing a template that is specifically designed for blogging. Your child might be enticed by background or color schemes that are interesting, but I would avoid website templates that have tons of features that your child won’t need.
Idea #3: Give Your Child’s Blog a Test Drive & Discuss Guidelines for Posts
Once you’ve set up a blog by following the directions given by WordPress, Blogger, or whichever platform you decide to go with, give your child a chance to create a post. My advice is simple: Let them write whatever they want. However short, simple, goofy, weird. Now will be the perfect time to discuss any guidelines or boundaries you want to set. If there are certain bottom lines you expect your child to follow, setting up those expectations from the beginning will be helpful. Our Two Writing Teachers guidelines for students include, among other things:
“Remember to keep it safe for your students. This community is made up of good people, however, it is in a public domain. Always have students use a pseudonym and be sure they are not disclosing any personal information.”
At Two Writing Teachers, we’ll be posting more detail about our own policies as the challenge gets closer, but here are a few bottom lines my daughter and I discussed:
- Just like in any classroom, and in life, absolutely no hate speech is allowed. If you see it while you’re reading other kids’ posts, make sure you tell me or another adult.
- Grown-ups reading student writing must report any evidence that any student would cause harm to themselves or others, or if there is any evidence that any student is in danger of any kind.
- Remember that anybody can read your writing and that everything you do online leaves a footprint. Think carefully about how your writing will make people feel before you click publish. Follow the Golden Rule.
- If you write something about me, your father, or your brother, I’d like you to let us read it first before it goes online.
Idea #4: Encourage Your Kid to Comment on Other Kids’ Writing & Invite a Few Friends to Comment on Your Kids’ Writing
Part of what makes the April Classroom Challenge so meaningful for young writers is that they are writing for a real-world audience. Nothing makes it more exciting for your kid than getting comments on their work. The more comments your child leaves on other kids’ posts, the more comments they will receive in return. In addition, it doesn’t hurt to recruit a few people to sprinkle a few comments here and there.
Idea #5: Write Alongside Your Child
The March Slice of Life Story Challenge for adults is nearly over, but every Tuesday, Two Writing Teachers hosts a weekly challenge that adults can continue to participate in. Just write a short little story that captures a snippet of your daily life, and post the permalink to it in our Tuesday call for slices. You can click here to learn more about the Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge.
Writing alongside your kid is one of the most powerful ways you can demonstrate that you value their work as a writer, and that you are learning right alongside them.
This year, writing alongside your child takes on a different level of significance, as we all are living through an unprecedented historical event. Experts are already saying that student writing, diaries, journals, and blogs will one day be the primary sources for studying the pandemic and understanding it more deeply.
The next several months are bound to bring untold sorrows, but also opportunity to spend time learning alongside and simply being with our children. Capturing some of your daily life in writing during this time could potentially help you and your child organize and reflect on your experiences and, at the end of the day, find meaning in all of it.