I’m excited to return back to work on Monday to engage in this conversation with student writers. As a bit of an impulse, I put the Slice of Life Challenge out to the teachers in my building near the end of February. I had decided to give it a go after meeting Stacey Shubitz at #CCIRA18, and since our building’s professional learning has been focused on authenticity in learning experiences, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to join an active online community of writers. Purpose, choice, audience. I offered to organize the student side of things, if any teachers had students who were game.
I was overwhelmed by the positive response to the invitation. One classroom asking to learn more turned into six--with more kids opting in than opting out. At last count, we had 97 students (and three teachers) signed up for the Slice of Life Challenge.
We created a shared Google site, where students could post their slices and read the writing of others. Throughout the day (and often in the evenings), you could see their little icons popping in and out of the site, as they found spare time to write. Students could also choose to work in their writer’s notebooks, either uploading photos to the site or sharing the old fashioned way--side by side.
So. . . what have I learned about myself as a writer this month?
- I’ve noticed that I feel more myself when I am writing regularly. I need to specifically carve out time to write, and when I do, it’s always worth it.
- I’ve noticed that I did begin to “read the world” like a writer, on the lookout for moments that might make for great slices. Instead of searching for ideas (at the beginning of the month), I began to just get a flash, knowing in that instant there was a spark worth exploring. I could almost curate my day subconsciously as I lived it, and by the time I sat down to write, I was ready.
- I’ve noticed how rewarding it has been to have something outside the curriculum connecting me with students across grade levels. As an instructional coach, I do most of my work collaborating with teachers in (and out of) classrooms. My favorite work has always been coaching cycles, side by side with teachers and kids, in pursuit of shared goals. My stance is always writer to writer, reader to reader, learner to learner (with kids and with adults). As authentic as that usually feels, there was something incredibly freeing about just putting the Slice of Life Challenge out there and having so many fellow writers say, “Yes, please!”
I can’t wait to hear what my fellow writers have to say on Monday about the experience!