story ideas · topics · writing workshop

“I Don’t Have Anything to Slice About!”: Generating Ideas for the 2023 Classroom SOLSC

Students are nine days in to the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge! We would love for you to share feedback and comments on the Padlet, whether you are participating with a class or not!

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Be Inspired!

After nine days, the novelty of the challenge starts to wear off. Young writers are getting to the tricky part of the challenge. Chances are, you might have students who struggle to find a topic, and we’ve got twenty-one days to go! In this week’s Classroom SOLSC post, I’ll share some tips to help students find inspiration… or, rather…. slice-peration. Yes- I did make up a new word. Here are some tips to help students generate ideas:

Morning Meeting: Do you start the day with some sort of gathering? A “Question of the Day?” My Kindergarten class begins each day with a morning circle. Every morning, kids have the option to share how they’re feeling and why. I like to offer time to slice as part of our morning meaning so I can remind kids that they just shared a writing topic with the class. Just last week, a writer told me he didn’t have anything to write about. I replied, ‘You just told the class you were feeling excited because you built a LEGO Star Wars base last night! Why don’t you write and draw about that?”

New Environment: It can be hard to write in the same place every day. Go outside. Go to the gym. Take your writing to the lunchroom. Changing the environment might help inspire students to write something new. My Kindergarten class recently went on a field trip to the park, and we had oodles of slice-peration as a result! Kids wrote about the cute dogs we saw (including one with red hair dye!), climbing a giant rock, and hiding pinecones for squirrels.

Visit the Padlet: Young writers worldwide share their writing on the Classroom SOLSC Padlet. Prompt students to peruse the Padlet to find a connection or inspiration. Or, find an exemplary slice yourself and lead the class in studying the piece as a mentor text.

Class Idea Chart: Get a big piece of poster paper and hang it somewhere accessible in the classroom. Did something funny happen? Add it to the chart. A surprising discovery at recess? Add it to the chart. Model visiting the chart for inspiration whenever you need an idea. (Jumpstart this conversation by reading The Idea Jar by Adam Lehrhaupt!)

Heart Maps or Identity Webs: Heart maps are a well-known workshop tool developed by Georgia Heard to help writers think of ideas and write about something that’s important to them. Check out Stacey Shubitz’s TWT Blog post from 2017 to learn more about heart maps. Identity webs are a newer idea from Sarah Ahmed with a similar goal. Melanie Meehan shares how to use identity webs in this TWT Blog post from 2020. Taking time to map topics most important to students could give them daily slice-peration to finish the month strong.

Let’s Have a Conversation!

Teachers: What tips would you add to this list? How do you help writers who struggle to find slice-peration? Share your advice in the comments below. We would also love to see some photos of your students’ idea charts, heart maps, or identity webs.