Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Slice of Life - Why Are We Doing This? (The March SOLSC and the SOLCC)
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for providing space for us to write Slices of Life each week. This week, I couldn't post in time for DigiLit Sunday, hosted by Margaret Simon because I was traveling, but I'm glad I waited because I read my students' final March Classroom Challenge Slices of Life on the way home, which perfectly answered Margaret's question of the week: Why Are We Doing This?
This was my fourth year participating in the March SOLSC myself, and the fourth year for my students to participate in the Classroom Challenge. Each year poses its own challenges and rewards, and this year was no exception, and I think it was the best yet for my students. Part of that is my experience in presenting the challenge - after 3 years, I've done a lot of trouble-shooting! I also think I got better about providing ideas, using mentor texts to encourage good writing, and reading as many of their posts and commenting on them (I have 53 students this year - most of whom participated to some extent) as I could while trying to keep up with my own participation (I didn't make it to all 31 Slices - I wrote 26). It was A LOT of reading, writing, and commenting! I was so impressed, though, with my students' comments to each other and their quality of writing this year. I did a couple mini-lessons just on commenting, and I think it paid off. They built quite a writing community among themselves.
I create levels and prizes so that those who write all 31 days and comment on three other Slices daily are aptly rewarded (although several wrote that even though the treats enticed them, the sheer act of writing and responding/getting responses is what drove them). Even if they don't make it to Level 5, which is every day, there are treats for other levels as well. I want to give them the freedom to miss a few, especially since our spring break falls during March, but still particpate. Tomorrow I'll get their charts to see how many achieved each level. They're also writing reflections on the experience, also due tomorrow. I always look forward to reading those!
When Margaret asked the question this past week, Why Are We Doing This? (I ask myself this every year - ha), I had a feeling my students would answer it, and indeed, they did. Check out this post from one of my 5th graders, Leo. Another 5th grader, Grace, wrote about her "Why" in this post. Katelyn wrote about the struggle and the journey here. Braden, a 6th grader, also wrote about the journey and his accomplishments. I couldn't express the "Why We Do This" any better than they. I'm always amazed by how the March Challenge transforms us all into a close community, provides a forum where we can express ideas and tell stories, and develops us into better writers. THAT'S why we do this!