Tag Archives: Slice of Life

#SOL19 Day 31 Thank You, Slicers

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We did it! The last day of the Slice of Life Challenge is here. I know many will feel a sense of relief coupled with a twinge of sadness. We’ve made a lot of connections, shared a lot of heartfelt stories, were buoyed by the words of others, and lived an intensely writerly life for the month of March. Some of us have gone from winter to spring (have faith my Mainer friends) and have had life changing experiences in a short period of time.

My last quick write SPARK is an homage to my fellow slicers and a thank you for your generous slices.

Here’s my quick write:Day 31 slice

I hope that we can stay connected. I’ve followed several blogs, several bloggers on Twitter, and made friends with some of you on the TeachWrite Facebook group. This isn’t goodbye, it’s just good luck until we “meet” again! Please stay in touch-you all ROCK!

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#SOL19 Day 28 Spark! Title Tales

For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 5.28.56 PMChallenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

A title gives the reader a clue to the content and genre of a story and can often set the tone. Titles help the reader predict what the story may be about and are often labored over by authors and editors. We can help students appreciate the importance of a good title when we try some quick writes focusing on envisioning possible stories derived from them.

I’ve collected the titles from some middle grade novels to use as sparks. You can check those out HERE, and then begin to build your own collection of titles that could spark the imaginations of your writers. They may be familiar or rather obscure to you students, I don’t worry if they write from a title they know and spin off from the story or even retell some of a story based on the title. They are still thinking about the role of a title and how it can aid in comprehension and appreciation of a story.

Here’s my quick write. Can you tell which title inspired this 3 minutes of flash fiction? It’s one of the titles in this collection. Read it first and then check it out.

Title Tale

 

Could you guess before looking what the title might be? How about after? It could be fun to let students choose from a list and then invite others to guess. It could also be amusing to give everyone the same title and see how many different versions they come up with. Were they humorous? Adventurous? Suspenseful? You’ll begin to appreciate titles in a whole new way if you collect and quick write to them.

 

The Slice of Life is Coming!

For the past 3 years, during the month of March I participated in the Slice of Life Challenge hosted by the Two Writing Teachers blog. Every day I write and post to my Screen Shot 2019-02-17 at 7.50.17 AMLitCoachLady page a ‘slice’ of my life…a poem, a memory, a small moment. It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding. Having some experience with it for a few years now has helped me realize that preparing some things ahead of time can make the challenge less challenging. I noticed yesterday my friend and fellow slicer, Leigh Anne Eck, was also preparing ahead of time. This early prep can give you a structure to build on each day, some ideas in the can for those hectic days, and as a way to commit (and avoid writer’s block).

This year I’ve decided I will be writing each day to a spark from my new book Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms. I’m going to walk the talk of a writing teacher, “Do as I do, not as I say.”  I’ve bookmarked 30 sparks, but I’m giving myself the option of choosing others, or to respond authentically to events that pop up in my life that inspire me to write.  This always helps me to walk through my day more present-knowing anything and everything has importance enough to write about.

So how can YOU prepare for the SLICE OF LIFE CHALLENGE and make the month of March a little less challenging? Here are some tips, I’d love to hear any others.

Preparing for the SLICE OF LIFE CHALLENGE

  • Visit the Slice of Life Challenge overview page and the participant information form.
  • Create a blog page if you don’t already have one. I use WordPress (you can get started HERE) but there are others Wix, Weebly,etc.  This is a good resource  on HOW TO START A BLOG.
  • Read slices from other slicers (think ‘mentor texts’). You can see some of mine HERE.
  • Try writing a few slices between now and March 1st. Save these as drafts on your blog site. Use these on those hectic days that will inevitably challenge you.
  • Don’t worry about being lengthy and lush…remember other slicers are trying to read at least 3 posts each day and we often appreciate brevity!
  • I’m not great at self promotion, but I’m proud of the quick write ideas I’ve put together in my new book and these might provide some SPARKS for you as well!
  • Go to Twitter and search #SOL19. There you’ll find other slicers you can follow and get support from. It’s truly a community event, so welcome to the community!

screen shot 2019-01-27 at 9.45.11 amShared Spark! This week I’ll share a few teacher quick write SPARKS to perhaps get you started on some slices. Just write for 5-10 minutes on whatever comes to mind. Try not to filter your thoughts or overthink it. Just let your ideas flow onto the paper without judgment. It can be fun to see what emerges!

  • When I look into the faces of my students…
  • The thing that surprised me most about teaching is…
  • Reframe a situation in your day or week that revises the narrative more positively, yet honestly.
  • What do you think school looks like through the eyes of one of your students?

Whatever approach you take, I just hope you take the Challenge! It will change your perception of writing profoundly and permanently…I guarantee it!

One More Off My TBR Stack!

TThe bridge homehe Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

I was totally spellbound by this compassionate and poignant novel. Living in poverty in India is hard, but imagine being Viji whose father abuses her mother and whose older sister Rukku has developmental disabilities. After her father turns his abuse to the girls, Viji knows she must flee to the city to find a better life for herself and Rukku. With almost no money and no plan, they encounter danger and hardship until they find shelter under an abandoned bridge. There they meet Muthi and Arul, two boys with equally tragic histories. Together they create their own family who work together to survive-pooling their meager resources and scavenging in trash heaps while Rukku makes bead necklaces to sell. When their safe haven is raided, they take shelter in a graveyard where they might be left alone. But with little shelter during the rainy season, Rukku and Muthu contract dengue fever from the mosquitoes. Viji and Arul need to find help, but they haven’t found many people they can trust or who would care about two of millions of homeless children. Padma Venkatraman beautifully shares the harsh reality and the courageous hopes of real homeless children in this fictional story. Open this book, it will open your eyes and your hearts

Plan Ahead to “Slice”!

slice-of-life_individualUPDATE: I will begin blogging every day in the month of March for the #SOL17 (Slice of Life Challenge) I won’t be posting about teaching pedagogy, instructional ideas, or book recommendations.  Rather, I’ll be sharing “slices” of small moments, poems, photos, that reflect what is important or ‘in the moment’ for me in the month of March.  I’ll go back to my regularly scheduled blogs once a week in April. If you’d like to “slice” I have information in this post to help get you going!

This March marks the 10th year of The Slice of Life Challenge  hosted by Two Writing Teachers. The idea is to write a small “Slice of Life” every day in the month of March. The  Two Writing Teachers believe, “Teachers who write regularly can better support the students they teach in writing workshops daily.” I couldn’t agree more.

Last year was my first in attempting this challenge and I have to say it was truly a ‘game changer’ for me.  Knowing that I would be writing a little each day not only kept my skills sharp and my ideas flowing, but I began to frame experiences as stories.  Everything around me suddenly became seeds for writing.  I saw my world in a whole new way-I began to appreciate others’ experiences with greater clarity and compassion.

I lived a writerly life!

I strongly encourage every teacher I know to give this challenge a try. You may not be able to write every single day, but even if you wrote several times a week I guarantee you will think about writing with such a different perspective. You will see the writers in your classroom with greater appreciation and empathy.

The big idea is that you write about what is important to you: a moment in your day, a memory from your past, a poem, a short story, a collection of words or images that expresses a “slice of your life”.  Then you post it on your blog and post the link on the Two Writing Teachers Blog (https://twowritingteachers.org ) so that other slicers can read and comment on your posts. You also agree to read and comment on at least 3 other slicers writing each day. That way you are truly part of a writing community! Believe me, you will love getting feedback from others!

All Participants click here for PARTICIPANT INFORMATION FORM starting Feb 19

First Time Slicers CHECK OUT THIS LINK that goes live on Feb 20.

Not sure you can do it?  Here are a few tips to help…

  • Read through the directions before March 1 so you can be ready
  • Set up a FREE blog on Blogger, Edublogs, or WordPress (click HERE for easy tutorial)
  • Write some slices ahead of time- there will be days you can’t carve out 10 minutes to write, I get that.  Have some slices ready to go that you can quickly post.
  • Don’t want to create a blog? Post a slice to Facebook with the hashtag #SOL17 and use the Slice of Life Logo as your image, you won’t be officially in The Slice of Life Challenge but it’s better than not slicing at all!)
  • Don’t quit if you miss some days-sure writing every day is great, but living a writerly life is a greater goal!
  • Invite some of your friends to take the challenge with you.  We all know that accountability partners help us with our goals.
  • Read other “Slices” for inspiration and ideas-it’s probably not as daunting as you might think when you can see what it looks like.

Not convinced? Here are my Take-Aways from last year:

  1. Stories are everywhere-seriously…EVERYWHERE!
  2. We are not the center of the universe.
  3. Some days writing is hard.
  4. There is no standardized unit of measure for a “slice”
  5. Some slices whet our appetites for writing!
  6. Getting comments on your writing makes you feel good.
  7. Writing gets easier when it becomes a habit.
  8. Being a part of a writing community enhances your writing identity.
  9. Writing shapes the way you think about the world.
  10. I am going to miss the intensity of pulling story from experience each day.

Happy Writing!!

What’s On My Book Radar?

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-9-22-24-amThe Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

If you are a nerdy teacher like me you have probably been waiting with baited-breath for this resource! Just like her companion text The Reading Strategies Book, Jen Serravallo has compiled an amazing series of lesson ideas to meet the needs of of literacy learners from K-8. She builds off the work of Lucy Calkins and Carl Anderson to offer concrete and specific teaching points to move writers forward. A ‘must-have’ resource for writing teachers!

I also think this could be a great resource for SLICERS to try out some writing techniques during the Slice of Life Challenge in March!

Happy Reading!

Mesmerizing Magic Made My Day

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My slice today is actually several similar slices. You see, it’s Read Across America Day and I have the perfect excuse for doing one of my favorite things in the world: reading aloud to kids.  I found myself invited (or self-invited) into classrooms from kindergarten to sixth grade with books that were both Seussical and non. I’m not sure who enjoyed these read alouds more, but it was a rush!

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Wolfie The Bunny

I began with my kindergarten friends. When I introduced a book  as, “one of my very favorite books from a very fun author”, they peppered me with “What is it? What is it?” As I held it up they cried, “He’s not a bunny! He’s a wolf!”  I answered, “I know!  That’s what Dot is trying to tell her family! Let’s see what happens!” They wrapped their blankets around their jammie-clad legs and snuggled up on their pillows while I brought Wolfie to life for them. They sat captivated, their emotions conveyed by an emerging smile or widening eyes. Not a peep except for the invitations for audience participation.

I paused on the last page, letting the message and finality of the story sink in.  And of course, what is the first thing out of most kindergartners mouths after a story?  “Read it again!” I promised I would be back to read this and others, and when I asked them “What would you like to tell Ame Dyckman about her story?” almost all said, “She should write another one!” They wanted Wolfie at Christmas, Wolfie in Summer, Wolfie at  Halloween …basically a Wolfie for all seasons!

In room after room, I experienced such a similar audience captivation. I loved creating voices for characters, and pausing to let images and ideas saturate their minds. And all the while, I doubt that a motion sensor would have been triggered by these stilled listeners.  Between pages, I would look out at their faces and see them transfixed, frozen mid-scene. This is like magic I thought, no…like hypnosis!

I can’t show you the faces (I need to protect their privacy) but I bet you can transpose the sweet countenances of your own cherubs onto these heads. It is the look of enchantment, and the only charm needed was a wonderful book.

So thank you, to Ame Dykman (Wolfie the Bunny), Theodore Geisel (The Lorax), Ryan T. Higgins (Mother Bruce) and Matt De La Pena (Last Stop on Market Street) for sharing your charms.  You helped me mesmerize our students in magical ways and made these slices of my day so memorable!