Recently I heard through the grapevine that Ralph Fletcher was looking for student samples of informal writing. I jumped at the chance. I emailed him three student slices. (I require a Slice of Life post on our class blog each week.) When Ralph saw the student work, he responded with questions to survey my students themselves.
I was remiss that I had never really done this before. Asking my students to reflect on how writing a slice each week affects them was worthwhile. With permission from Ralph Fletcher, these are the questions he asked.
- What do you like about this kind of writing?
- Does Slice of Life writing feel different from other kinds of writing you do? How?
- Do you think having the opportunity to do Slice of Life writing has made you a stronger/better writer? If so, how?
- When you are doing Slice of Life writing are you thinking of an audience (who you wan to read it)?
- Do you ever try out a Slice of Life piece at home?
- Please answer TRUE or FALSE: I am a writer. ____TRUE ___FALSE
I read through my students’ responses and came to some conclusions.
- Slice of Life writing frees you to write about your own life with the support of your classmates and other bloggers.
- Slice of Life writing is different from other writing because it is about your own life, your own feelings, or almost anything you want to write about.
- Slice of Life writing makes you stronger because you are aware of an audience and so you care about the commas and stuff. It also helps you express yourself and not hold everything inside.
- The Slice of Life audience are your classmates, so you try to be funny and casual and normal.
- Slice of Life writing can be done at home, but most of my students do not write from home.
- Some of my students hesitate to call themselves writers because they do not have any books written. This response surprised me and made me realize my own hang-ups with calling myself a writer. I need to be more intentional about telling them that they are writers.
If you are considering doing the Slice of Life Story Challenge with your students in March, I have a few tips.
- Give parents a heads-up and encourage them to support their children by giving them computer time for writing.
- Tell your students often that they are writers. Post it on the wall. Call them “writers.”
- Encourage classmates to support each other through comments. We occasionally have a comment challenge. How many comments can you do in 30 minutes? (Once I brought Skittles, but I ran out. And I was only giving one Skittle per comment.)
- Ideas! I gave my students a tiny idea notebook that they decorated, but you can also do an anchor chart or Padlet. I’m thinking about doing an idea box, too.
- Share your own experience. I participate in the teacher’s Slice of Life Challenge, and I share my writing and my struggles with my students.
- Have fun! If it’s not fun, regroup. and evaluate.