Tag Archives: Two Writing Teachers

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!

Start the Year Off Write

September is the planting season for writing!

All month I have been encouraging teachers to set up writers’ notebooks, to offer quickwrite opportunities, and immerse themselves in a variety of writing activities.  These pieces of writing will be the seeds from which ideas, stories, and topics will germinate and grow.

In our district we offer a writing prompt to all of our K-6 students to help us establish a baseline of writing strengths and needs for our students.  It lets us get to know how they approach writing and what they bring to their writing from previous years.  It is tough to generate a prompt that will inspire and not stifle, engage and not turn off, AND is appropriate for 5 year olds as well as .  Rather than having a single prompt, we generated several options.  We chose a few videos to watch to inspire ideas




We offered two different pictures for our K-2 students and asked them to write a story that goes with one of these.



We offered two Shel Silverstein poems for our 3rd-6th grade students, asking them to write a story inspired by one of them.

poetry-by-shel-silverstein-7-638 silverstein.1

And finally we offered them the greatest choice of all-an original idea of their own. We wanted to send the message to our students that ideas come from so many places-what we read or see or touch can be an inspiration for writing. So far the writing pieces have been thoroughly entertaining and enlightening!

Some writers’ notebooks are filling with dozens of seeds waiting for the gentle watering that will come with daily mini-lessons, writing conferences, and revisions. These early sprouts are so fun to look back on at the end of year “harvest” to contemplate the almost-miraculous growth.

I hope that you are all off to a wonderful school year, and busy planting those seeds each day.  If you need some inspiration for launching writers’ notebooks or nurturing those tender shoots, head on over to my friends’ blog The Two Writing Teachers. There are actually more than two amazing teachers who contribute to this blog: Stacey Shubitz, Anna Gratz Cockerille, Betsy Hubbard, Beth Moore, Dana Murphy, Tara Smith, Deb Frazier, and Kathleen Sokolowski have loads of ideas and support to keep your writing workshop engaging and fresh throughout the school year.

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I LOVE this writing prompt idea to help us get to know our students.  Writing is such a personal journey-creating trusting relationships will be key to growing strong writers. What are 5 Things You Want Your Teacher to Know:

What’s On My Book Radar?

The Global Read Aloud is right around the corner (October 5).  I thought this month would be a great time to read some of this year’s selections.


This week I read CHOPSTICKS and FISH


Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrator Scott Magoon created a fun story about two chopstick friends who must face a challenging time of trying things without each other. If you are trying to encourage independence with young kids, this would be a great text to start that conversation.

Fish: A Novel

A middle grade novel of bravery and perseverance! When a boys relief worker family must flee a war torn country a young boy rescues a fish from a drying up puddle. He takes this fish on their treacherous journey and discovers small miracles can happen. Beautifully written by L.S. Matthews.

Just got the YA Novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.  Not sure I’ll be reading that one aloud to my elementary students, but the title has me hooked!  Hope you find some of these titles to read to your students next month!  They are wonderful!!!


Happy Reading