The Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge is the student version of the March SOLSC. We hope you’ll join us this year. For more info, check out Lainie Levin’s Introductory Post.
As April approaches, I reflect on my daily writing experience in the March SOLSC. I grew as a writer, got to know myself better, and found a great community. Throughout the month, I shared my writing experiences with the Kindergarteners in my class, so they are READY to complete their own writing challenge: The Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge, which starts this Saturday, April 1st!
Every Sunday on Two Writing Teachers, we will share tips and inspiration for educators who are coaching their students through the challenge. We invite you to comment on each Sunday’s post with an update on how it’s going and to share your students’ writing in the padlet. For today’s kickoff post, I’ll share tips for how the challenge will work in my primary classroom. I hope these tips inspire you to make the challenge work for writers of any age! As I told other teachers at my school: If kinders can do it, you can too!
Model Being a Writer
The students in my class avidly followed my experience with the challenge, because I shared the highs and lows with them. I discussed how I solved problems like finding time to write and thinking of a topic when I had writer’s block. I also shared how motivating it was to have other writers comment on my writing. Bringing students along on my journey motivated them to try it for themselves. They also loved checking on my progress. Kids helped me add a check to our calendar for every day I wrote. When I was out sick for a day, the first thing they asked when I returned was, “Did you write when you were sick!?” As your students dig in to the challenge this April, don’t forget to share the realities of what it was like for you!
Since the April challenge requires students to write every day (even on the weekends!) it’s important to include students’ at-home support. Click here to see the family letter I’ll send home before the challenge begins. Feel free to copy or edit for your own use!
Tracking Progress and Celebrating
How will you help students keep track of their progress in the challenge? I printed off a large poster with each student’s name. Kids will add a sticker to mark each day they write in April. I hung this chart in the classroom in mid-March, and students started goal-setting right away, telling their peers how far they hoped to make it on the chart! On the chart, I highlighted the number of days students need to write to win a prize. (Since my students are so young, there’s an option to win a prize for writing every school day, in addition to a prize for writing every day). I encourage you to consider different prize benchmarks to make the challenge attainable for kids. For more ideas related to prizes, celebrations, and even digital badges, check out this post by Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski. (Get your own editable copy of my chart here.)
Inspired by Erika Victor’s guest post, this year I will host a few “Slicer Lunches.” Kids can use this optional opportunity to eat, write, and share in the classroom. Since my kids are kindergarteners, you can imagine that this is a very special opportunity for them! Make sure “Slicer Lunches” don’t overflow into critical recess time.
To help the inevitable student who will say “I don’t have anything to write about,” we started a class idea chart early in March. Whenever something funny or surprising happened, we added it to our list. When our challenge begins, we will continue to add to our list, but we’ll also reference it for writing ideas when we’re stuck.
How will your class connect with other writers to get feedback during the challenge? Make sure to visit the Padlet often to see other students’ progress and leave comments. You can also find readers closer to home. My class will participate in weekly meet-ups where we will connect with a different grade level at school to get comments on our writing. I’ve also encouraged families to leave comments in the family letter. My class is used to sharing their writing with others from our daily Author’s Chair time, where they choose the type of feedback they’d like to receive. They can ask for questions, compliments, or ideas from their audience. It’s critical that students have the autonomy to choose the type of feedback they receive. We will use this same format when commenting and asking for comments to ensure feedback goes beyond “surface-level.”
Get creative as you look for connections to the challenge in your school community and curriculum. On April 3rd, my school is hosting an author visit. I’ll encourage students to prepare questions for our special guest that relate to our challenge. Perhaps you’ll find a virtual author visit to encourage your class.
I am excited to see what your students craft this month. Don’t forget to share their progress with the TWT community!
Do you have a tip to share with other teachers participating in the challenge? Something new you’re trying this year? Please share in the comments below:
Questions about the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge should be directed to one of these co-authors:
- If your last name begins with the letters A – Q, please email questions to Leah Koch at Leah.koch7[at]gmail.com.
- If your last name begins with the letters R – Z, please email questions to Melanie Meehan at meehanmelanie[at]gmail.com.
One thought on “Are You Ready For The 2023 Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge?”
This post is filled with beautiful ideas, Leah! I wish I had a class of my own so I could try some of your suggestions out with kids!
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