Thursday, March 16, 2017

Slice of Life Story Challenge #16 - The Seven Most Important Things For Writers

It's the March Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers!

    Last week we had one of those days filled with book love.  I LOVE those kinds of days. Not only are we writing like crazy (34 out of 53 students have blogged in the March Slice of Life Classroom Challenge every day so far), but reading is alive and well!  I recently finished our 5th grade read aloud, Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, which I read for our anchor text during our Journey unit, and our 6th grade read aloud, The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall, the anchor text for our Social Responsibility and Leaving a Legacy unit.  

     First, I'd like to share the fabulous responses my 5th graders wrote on Padlet after finishing Rump.  You can read them here.  I love the discussions about what names mean to them, how they might shape you, and that your will is stronger than your name or "destiny".  I seem to read a lot of books about identity and breaking free of negative family patterns or situations as read alouds (PAX, Some Kind of Courage - both 5th grade, The Seventh Most Important Thing, Freak the Mighty - both 6th grade), so I know I'm drawn to that theme - that everyone has a choice in to choose their future.  Of course, some people have it harder and may need more help to achieve that feat, but it's possible.  It's what give us hope.  Redemption is embedded in that 6th grade Leaving a Legacy idea.  Mentors who give kids a hand when faced with trouble leave a legacy and help them redeem their situations and their history.  We find those kinds of mentors in these stories.

     Secondly, my 6th graders were captivated by The Seventh Most Important Thing.  This is the second year I've chosen it as a read aloud.  It captures them right off the bat when the main character, Arthur, throws a brick at the old "junk man" and breaks his arm at the beginning of the book.  They are shocked, and of course judge Arthur right away as a terrible kid.  Throughout the story, the "junk man", James Hampton, is the mentor who helps redeem Arthur through seven most important things. Arthur is given a list of these items, and he has to help Mr. Hampton find them.  I'll be writing more about this book in another SOLSC post because there are so many layers to it.  For now, I'll leave it at that.  We got to Skype the author, Shelley Pearsall, last week!  She is wonderful, and answered all the kids' questions beautifully.  She also gave us a glimpse into her writing space and process.  We loved that!  We were excited to hear about her upcoming book, Bird Boy, set to be published in the spring of 2018.  We can't wait!  One of my students, Marah, posed this question to Ms. Pearsall: What would you say are the seven most important things for writers (Marah loves to write and would like to become a published author some day)?  We loved her responses:

1. Persistence
2. Courage
3. Practice
4. Be a good observer/eavesdropper
5. Empathy/heart 
6. Know your audience
7. Curiosity

     There you go, March Slicers - persistence, courage, practice, observation, empathy, audience, and curiosity! Keep writing!


  1. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! I adore this book and many of my students have read it too. It's one of those books you can't put down. I LOVE her answer to the brilliant question posed by your student. Hmmm, I may have to borrow the question and idea for a slice of my own. Can't wait to read your next post about this book.

  2. This book is on my TBR pile. I think I need to move it to the top. I love the advice Shelley gave for writers. It is spot on!

  3. So excited that Shelley has another book coming out! Love the list. Very thoughtful. So mush wonderful book love in your room.

  4. I need to read that book! What a wonderful experience you had with you Skype, Holly. I enjoy reading about your classroom.

  5. Her response was wonderful! I look forward to reading Marah's published books!

  6. Persistence, courage, practice, observation, empathy, audience, and curiosity - love this! Well, persistence is about writing every day, even when you think you have nothing to say. Courage is putting your thoughts out there, even though you may be afraid to do so. Practice is what you do when you write every day, even if it's just for 10 minutes, which is enough to say something meaningful or at least to get started on that path. Observation is critical! If you don't purposefully or intentionally notice things, then it's hard to write with authority. Empathy - for the world around me that I am trying to capture. You can only do this if you notice and write down what you feel, see, think, etc. Audience is sometimes hard for kids, but definitely what we need to emphasize every day. Curiosity - yes, yes and yes!
    Thanks for posting about this. I will have to look up The Seventh Most Important Thing.