Here we go…first day of March. Time to begin a daily writing practice. The Slice of Life Challenge begins today!
This is my fourth year to join the challenge. When I first started, there were only two writing teachers at Two Writing Teachers, Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres. Now there are six, Stacey, Beth, Betsy, Tara, Dana, and Anna. They make a pretty awesome team. At NCTE in November, I had the pleasure of meeting most of them. They are real people! That is the beauty of this blogging community. Everyone is real. We all support one another. We challenge each other. We engage each other.
If this is your first time, I understand totally how you feel. I still wake up at night wondering if what I wrote was junk, and nobody will like it. I still carry my phone with me all day checking my alerts for comments. That never gets old.
I volunteered to be a concierge for the classroom SOLC along with Linda Baie. (Linda is one of those blog commenters who keeps us all connected. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s been my top commenter for years. One day we will meet face to face.) Together we are here to help answer any questions you have about blogging with your class.
In my own classroom, I have set up a Kidblog site. I like this format, much like WordPress, and it allows my students to all post in a common area. I do not have to do any linking to an outside site. Anything that cuts out a step helps when posting daily. I have stored the SOL logo in my photo file, so I can attach it to every SOL slice.
With my students, I made two anchor charts: What is a Slice? and How to make a slice tasty. We will continue to add to these charts. They help my students verbalize their practice. I have set up incentives for different levels of accomplishment. For 15-20 slices, the student gets a pencil. For 21-26, a journal. And the grand prize is a book for 31 slices. I have only 12 students, so I am able to afford the prizes. Some teachers set up a celebration with food at the end of the month.
On Friday, March 13th, the Alliance for Excellence in Education sponsors a Digital Learning Day. On this day, consider joining me in a comment challenge. My students will be reading blogs like crazy and competing for a Crazy Commenter prize.
Here are a few things I have learned over the years about the Slice of Life Challenge:
- Write a day or two ahead. Have some drafts ready just in case. I preach this better than I do it.
- Add photos whenever possible. I try not to post anything without a visual. Something more than just the SOL logo. This appeals to the reader and gives you an anchor if you post to Facebook.
- Don’t quit. Even if you miss a day or two, jump back in. The prizes are nice, but in the long run, the value is in the daily practice of writing.
- Comment. This takes time, so you may want to set up a method. I usually click on the person above and below my name in the list. I also try to return comments to those who comment on my post.
- Use your comments to connect to the writer. We make friends by making connections. I changed my tune this year with my students. I once told them to make a criticycle (a critique sandwiched with positive feedback.) Now I feel the connection is the most important thing.
I started this round-up for Digital Literacy. Here every Sunday, you can link their digital literacy posts. We learn from each other. Join in anytime. On Twitter, @MargaretGSimon, #k6digilit. Please leave your link in the comments and I will add to the post.