Posts Tagged ‘Slice of Life Challenge’

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

I’ve been following Elisabeth Ellington’s blog for at least 4, maybe 5 years.  We’ve actually met in person a few times at NCTE, and when we’ve had occasion to sit next to each other, we talk incessantly like two introverts in the sea.  Elisabeth lives in South Dakota, far north from Louisiana.  Nevertheless, we connect over our love of nature.  Yesterday on her blog the dirigible plum, she wrote a post with the title, “What did you Fall in Love with Today?”

As I read her post, a poem began to write itself in my head.  I could connect emotionally to all that she wrote.  I didn’t know anything about pronghorn, so I did a Google search (something else that Elisabeth mentions loving) and found this information on the National Wildlife Federation site.

Pronghorn are one of North America’s most impressive mammals. Not only do pronghorn have the longest land migration in the continental United States, they also are the fastest land animal in North America. Pronghorn can run at speeds close to 60 miles an hour. Even more amazing than its speed is the pronghorn’s migration. Herds of pronghorn migrate 150 miles each way between Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park. The only other land animal to travel farther in North America is the caribou.

I’m in Love
found poem from Elisabeth Ellington’s Slice of Life

I’m in love
with the moon
over snow-covered hills
then yellow.

I’m in love
with clouds
before sunrise
Venus bright
in the East.

I’m in love
with a field of pronghorn
lying in the snow
legs curled beneath
for warmth.

I’m even in love
with this open parking spot
right in front
of my favorite coffee shop.

I’m in love
with warm fires,
curled up cats,
and always,
every day
with my mug
of coffee.

What do you love today?

Read Full Post »

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I have been blogging since January, 2011. One discovery that has kept me going (teaching, writing, blogging) is the annual Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge in the month of March. This will be my 4th year taking the challenge along with my students. I am a believer in blogging. I have drunk the Kool-Aid.

I now have the best Professional Learning Community ever. These people are supportive of everything from surviving a bad day to winning awards. My cheering section is large. I want to spread the love.

Carolyn and I met about 5 years ago when we were both newbies in a school. Being a newbie can be uncomfortable, but Carolyn and I found each other and connected easily. Like minds, similar philosophies, everything to make for a lasting friendship.

Now Carolyn and I teach at different schools, but we try to have coffee every few weeks or so. Recently she was sitting in my kitchen looking at The New Yorker on the counter. She said, “You should submit a poem to this magazine.”

I said, “Yeah, right. In a million years.”

She said, “I challenge you!”

So I said, “I challenge you to start blogging and do the Slice of Life Challenge.”

She brought her laptop over on Monday, so I could show her a few pointers. “What should I write about?”

I said, “I don’t even know what I’m going to write about yet.”

Then we both cheered, because great minds think alike. We will write about each other!

Please welcome my friend Carolyn, the Bayou Warrior, to this amazing community. I know she will like it here.

I am truly humbled by her first post. Click here.

The blogging Bayou Warrior!

The blogging Bayou Warrior!

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I am always on the look out for digital literacy ideas. This week was no exception. Being on spring break allowed me more time to peruse the Internet for ideas to make the end of the school year great. Cathy Mere posted in Choice Literacy about ways to keep students connected over the summer.

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

My students post on a kidblog site. They had a good daily writing habit during the Slice of Life Challenge in March. This month we are writing poems. I’ve even had a former student join in. We are working on a collaborative poem in the comments section of her poem, “Ode to a Cat.”


My thinking is I will ask students to post twice a week, once on Mondays about their summer reading. There is a meme at Jen Vincent’s site called “It’s Monday: What are you Reading?” My goal is to participate in that round-up myself and to encourage my students to write a blog post on Mondays about their reading.

Tuesdays will be Slice of Life days as they are at the Two Writing Teachers site. My students know how to write a slice of life. This will keep us up to date in the summer.

I teach the same students year to year, with the exception of students moving and 6th graders moving on to middle school. I want to use this to my advantage. How special for me and my students that we can keep in touch over the summer. They don’t have to know that it’s academically good for them. I plan to build it up as an opportunity. Any ideas on getting the parents on board? They will be the ones who will need to provide the computer time and do the reminding.

Join the Chalk-a-bration over at Teaching Young Writers.

Join the Chalk-a-bration over at Teaching Young Writers.

On the last day of each month, we join in Betsy Hubbard’s Chalk-a-bration. My students love this day. They’ve come to remind me of it each month. What fun for them to take Chalkabration on Vacation! I’ll encourage them to write poems in chalk, take pictures, and text them to me. I can keep up my blog post with their snapshots. The more I think about our summer literacy, the more excited I get.

Cathy Mere also keeps up a Pinterest board for her parents. I am not very active on Pinterest, but maybe this would be a resource I should try. I think I’ll poll the parents to see how many of them use Pinterest.

What are your thoughts about summer digital literacy?

Add your DigiLit Sunday post in Mr. Linky:

Read Full Post »

Slice of Life Day 21.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 21. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Poetry Friday Round-up is at The Drift Record

Poetry Friday Round-up is at The Drift Record

I am constantly amazed by my gifted students. They can process and learn at such a rapid rate. I love words. That’s no secret. They know it. So we often spend time talking about words.

Vannisa, a 4th grader, and I are reading A Snicker of Magic together. (Actually, she has passed me up.) I asked her to put some of the magical words on the board. She made a list including felicity, serendipity, paradigm, gargantuan, spendiddly, snicker-doodle, lickety-split. Aren’t these great words?

I pulled up a poem that Katie Muhtaris posted on her blog Coffee Fueled Musings to show her students how to use strong verbs. Her poem, Oreos, inspired Vannisa to write about cookies.

Chewy Cookies

Stretching for the red box it slumbers in,
peel off the wrapper
decant a glass of milk into the tall transparent cup.
Let the flow of white water dive into the pool of air.
Snatch a crispy golden cookie.
Devour the serendipity.
Taste the felicity of the snicker-doodle.

–Vannisa, age 10

Matthew, otherwise known as Magic Matt on our class blog, took a break from his magic tricks to write a poem. He didn’t know it was good. He told me, “Don’t post this anyWHERE.” Then I read it and said, “Wow!”

Matt said, “Mrs. Simon, did you just say Wow about one of my poems?”

I think you will say Wow! too.


Felicity fills my soul,
warming my heart like a gargantuan fire.
Isolated mountains dot the Earth
like looking through a kaleidoscope.
A paradigm of God’s grandest creation meeting reality.

–Matthew, age 10

Read Full Post »

Slice of Life Day 9.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 9. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Calling all teacher-nerd-bloggers to join in the DigiLit Sunday Round-up. I will be hosting every Sunday. This is a huge leap of faith on my part, so I am hoping I have some leapers join me this week. Mr. Linky is waiting at the bottom of this post. Link up your own Digital Literacy post. I am still looking for a logo. Any ideas are welcome. This is all new to me.

One of my biggest problems in using the Internet in my classroom is blocking by the district network. I am pleased that YouTube is now available. This is due to the new curriculum our state is using that requires use of YouTube videos. So this week we were able to view a video by Tamera Will Wissinger. She read a poem to us from her book “Gone Fishing.”

A student from another class doing the Slice of Life Challenge wrote about Kid President, so we watched a few of those. I’m sure there are more ways I can use YouTube in my classroom. I welcome your ideas.

Still I run into frustration, especially when we are trying out new apps. I wanted my students to try out Haiku Deck that Kevin Hodgson led me to. When we pulled it up, all the parts worked except the pictures were all blocked. The best part of this app is the beautiful images to choose from. We managed to find a few pictures that would work, but only by trial and error.

Another difficulty we’ve encountered this week was that most blog sites are blocked. Fortunately, the Two Writing Teachers was not, so I could link up our class’s blog to the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge, but if the other classes use any site other than Kidblog, the site is blocked. We are able to link up with other slicers through Kidblog.

I am trying to teach my students about fair use of pictures from the Internet. Mary Lee Hahn talked about using the Google Search Tool under Usage Rights: Labeled for reuse. The problem with this is most pictures that are reusable are blocked. I have taught my students that for use in the classroom on projects and PowerPoints, we can use a picture that is not creative commons; however, if they are going to use it on our public blog, it must be an original picture or one for reuse.

I’m sure many of you are running into these kinds of roadblocks and welcome any advice for working around and with them.

Read Full Post »

Poetry Friday Round-up is Here!

Poetry Friday Round-up is Here!

Slice of Life Day 7.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 6. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Watch out! There is a line lifter lurking in the cybersphere. He goes by the odd name of Dogtrax. He’s been reading poems and stealing lines and writing poems of his own. He also went so far as to make a Prezi for his class, as if this is a practice they may want to emulate.

I have to say, in all honesty, that this practice is the highest form of praise for a beginning student writer. My student, Vannesa wrote a poem posted on my blog here. Kevin, aka Dogtrax, wrote this poem in response.

Who comes from words
I come from words
and you come from the punctuation
at the end of my words
where we can both pause for a second
to think about what I meant to say
when I was writing words
and you were reading them.


Just a few days ago, my former student, Kaylie, joined our class Slice Of Life Challenge blog and posted this fabulous poem inspired by my mother-in-law’s visit last year. Kevin strikes again.

The sun climbs the earth again
feet dragging along the hillsides of my youth
and I wave farewell to the moon and the stars
and the constellations that were stories of my dreams
in order to embrace the warmth of the sun
and welcome the day.

–Mr. Hodgson
Sixth Grade Teacher
Southampton, Massachusetts USA

I find Kevin’s practices on the Internet inspiring. He posted a Haiku Deck poem recently, so I tried my hand at it also. WordPress is not supporting the embed code, so I made the slides into images to post here. This is a haiku version of a poem I wrote for Laura Shovan’s Pantone Poetry Project on Author Amok. (Today is her last day, so sad. It’s been a fun month.)

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Today is Poetry Friday and I am celebrating my 300th post! (Throws confetti!) The round-up will be gathered my Mr. Linky. Please come back often to read and comment. As one of my students said today, “Comments are fluffy!”

Read Full Post »

A new button for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge!

A new button for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge!

Believe it or not, March is almost here. Today, I announced in my classroom, “Guess what? It’s almost March. Slice of Life time!” Over the next two weeks we will talk about it a little each day. What is a Slice of Life story? What are some things you could write about? We have been blogging all year long, but the SOLC steps it up a notch. Rather than expecting at least one post per week, I will challenge my students to write every day and post at least 3 times a week.

Linda Baie and I are sharing the responsibility for supporting the classroom challenge. I will be available to answer questions for teachers whose last name begins with N-Z. If you have questions now, just write a comment. At other times, you can email me at margaretsmn at gmail dot com.

There are two documents that I want to share with you. First, I created a parent letter. I will copy and paste the body of the letter here. Of course, you will want to personalize it for your own use.

February 18, 2014
Dear Parents,
In March, my gifted students will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge. This challenge is lead by the Two Writing Teachers at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.
My students will be asked to write every day in March. This writing should be a “slice” of life. We will discuss ideas and have time for writing every day in class. The students will be graded by a rubric requiring at least 3 posts each week and comments on at least two classmates’ writing. If they write for the full month, I will provide prizes. If a student writes 16 or more slices, he or she will get a prize.

The students have been using kidblog.org all year long. This is a familiar format to them. I have set up a kidblog specifically for the Slice of Life Challenge, http://kidblog.org/SliceofLifeChallenge.

This is a public blog; however, I will get an email for every comment and post and will have to approve it before it is posted. I will only allow the students to use their first names, and we will not post any pictures of them. You and family members will be able to access the blog and write comments. Also, I will be posting to the Two Writing Teachers blog so that other teachers and their students can read and comment. This can be a wonderful experience for the students. They will develop good writing skills as they work to make their slices interesting to other readers.
I am asking parents to support this project in the following ways:
• Read your child’s posts and make positive, encouraging comments.
• Allow your child to use the internet to post if they have not been able to at school or on weekends.
• Give permission for your child to post on a public blog.
Please sign the permission form below and return to school.
Margaret Simon

My child, _____________________________, has permission to write posts to the public kidblog, Slice of Life Challenge. I understand that only his/her first name will be used and his/her picture will not be posted.

The second document is a chart the students use to track their slices. Because we will have a Mardi Gras break in the month, I will reduce the number of days required for a prize. You can decide for yourself how many entries are needed to get a prize.
Slice of Life Challenge chart (1) copy

Read Full Post »

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Last year I started following the Two Writing Teachers blog written by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz, coauthors of Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice. Each week they host a blog round-up called “The Slice of Life.” If you regularly read my blog, you have seen the logo on every Tuesday post. What’s so nice about the Slice of Life is you can write about anything. And it keeps me blogging at least once a week. Well, in March comes the big Slice of Life Challenge…blog every day, all 31, in the month of March. Can I do that? Can my students do that?

I think we can, I think we can…

On Sunday, The Two Writing Teachers had a guest post by a teacher, Amanda Cornwell, who listed Ten Tips for Creating an Electronic SOLC for your Students. Amanda teaches middle school students. I teach elementary, yet most of the tips still apply.

I teach multiple grades in gifted, so my students are at different levels not only in ability, but also in their motivation to write. This year I’ve used kidblog.org with all of my students. It has been a safe place for them to write and respond and has provided a community of writers among my students who go to different schools. But the kidblog is private. I am considering opening a public blog for the March challenge, so other students and teachers can read my students’ posts. Please leave a comment if you would be interested in partnering up our classes for reading and commenting.

Here are my Ten Tips for Slicing about your life:

1. Think about writing all day long.
There are many seeds out there on your way to school, in your dreams, and even in your conversations with your students. After the Super Bowl blackout, there were many comments and questions among my students that could have led to a SOL story about “What do you think happened?”

2. Turn off the inner critic.
This is as hard for me as anything. But every time I talk to a fellow writer, I hear this message again and again, “Trust your voice.”

3. Start with an image.
Images lead to description. Description leads to connection. There you go, a Slice of Life story.

4. Try different genres.
Write an acrostic poem or the opening scene for a short story. Write about the last time your grandmother made gumbo or a short research piece about why cats’ claws are retractable.

5. Write together.
When my students write, I write. We call it “sacred writing time.” I set the timer and no one speaks or gets up, or even sharpens a pencil.

6. Be realistic and set attainable goals.
We are going to be out of school for Spring Break the last week of March, so I may set the goal at 16 days which is the number of days we will be in school that month.

7. Encourage each other.
One of my students called commenting, “a compliment sandwich.” I like that. Start and end with a positive comment with a criticycle inside. Criticycle is critique with a little sweetness.

8. Prizes: Last year I bought all my students who participated in the challenge a pack of decorative sticky notes and a blank book. I will probably consider another similar practical gift as well as lots of high fives and way to gos!

9. Share your writing.
In addition to typing into a blog post, my students enjoy sharing their writing. They like to hear me read as well. They encourage me and give me advice. I will continue to provide sharing time.

10. Celebrate.
I am stealing this from Amanda. She had a picnic and reading to celebrate along with certificates signed by the principal. I like this idea. We may have to host a Slice of Life Author’s Chair when we invite parents and guests to come and hear our writing.

I am excited about this challenge. Won’t you join me?

Read Full Post »