Slice of Life Challenge 2017      

Blogging with my students

Yesterday I committed to writing every day for the rest of March alongside my third graders so that they could participate in the classroom slice of life challenge.  If you are a longtime reader, you might remember that I did the adult Slice of Life Challenge a couple of years ago.  The adult SOLC is a challenge for me because I normally only post once or twice a week and I try to keep my topics related to either travel or international teaching.  However, this time around I’m doing it to help my third graders blog every day AND I’m blogging myself, and this is certainly living up to the word “challenge”!

I don’t know how other classrooms with younger students organize for this challenge, but I decided to make our writing center dedicated to this challenge for this month.   Normally we have a 20-30 minute period for each group of students to write (with four groups visiting the center each day).  I originally planned on having them write opinion pieces this month so the SOLSC isn’t too far off topic, but my main goal for the month is to get them excited about writing.

So far, I’ve only had my students work on the challenge for two days, and both days we were working as a whole class.  This has been a little chaotic since they have only occasionally worked to post anything to our blog and were basically starting at zero.  I’m hoping that 20-30 minutes working in small groups with me will be enough time for them to work on and upload their slices!

One issue I’ve had already is that I have some students that are extremely slow writers.  So if I ask them to do any kind of pre-writing, rough draft, or editing they don’t have time to type up their slices.  I’m wondering if I should just try skipping the rough draft and immediately give them their iPad to begin typing with.

Another issue is that we have to share one classroom set of iPad with the other third-grade class so I should really only have the iPad three mornings a week during our literacy block.  I have to see if the other teacher can share five iPads with our class… and then try to avoid getting caught by our admin because they don’t want us sharing iPads in case one gets lost.  Sigh.

A final difficulty that I’m having is how much time it takes to moderate all of the posts.  My students don’t have emails or their own blogs so I’ve been having them post their slices as a comment on one single post on our classroom blog.  Then I have to read through all of them to make sure that they are school appropriate and to check that they make some kind of sense!  My students are all native Spanish speakers and they are still in third grade so there is usually a lot of editing that needs to happen!

I would love to hear tips about how to make the classroom SOLSC run a little smoother.


15 responses to “Slice of Life Challenge 2017      

  1. Great post! What an exciting idea! I’m currently working with Year 4 girls in England, and we have a classroom blog. However, I only have one girl write a post each week. The method I use may be helpful though because the time I spend on one post is less than 3 minutes.

    I let each girl write her own short post about anything school related. By not limiting content too much, the girls find writing more freeing and engaging. She can either hand write, or type her draft. I make corrections, like an editor, than post it for her on our classroom blog. I then give the girl her original draft with the corrections. Each post a girl creates has improved with each trial. I’m never aiming for perfect, just growth over time.

    I may steal this idea for next school year if you don’t mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your process, Taylor. Do you have your girls write as a whole class? This would work on MWF in my class, because those are the only days that I have a class set of iPads.

      I decided to let my students go straight to the iPads today and it is helping them get finished in time. Hopefully they will get better at self-editing on the ipads over the course of the month.


      • I haven’t had them write their post as a class, so that will be the big difference between our two ways of having the children blog. However, I give them time each morning to just free write in journals. I like your idea because it gives children the skills to write through a different platform.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve yet to take on the Classroom Challenge.
    So kudos for taking the first step.
    I appreciated the honesty in this because I can visualize and relate to some of the challenges you wrote about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought the classroom challenge would allow me to just get my students posting… I didn’t realize that I would need to post every day too! It is a big commitment!

      I will keep updating about their progress throughout the month in case it helps anyone else get started with the classroom challenge.


  3. I definitely agree that it’s a challenge to try to write alongside with your students while managing your class doing their posts!
    I don’t have my students draft their slices on paper first, and just have them draft and revise their posts on their blog directly. In my real life, I don’t draft on paper first then type my posts onto my blog, so I think it’s fine for them to do all that on their computer. However, use what works best for your students!
    What if you tried to give the students some more ownership over the editing process? Maybe give them a simple editing checklist that they need to go through before posting? Or they can peer edit? Also, I found that sometimes students will find mistakes in other students posts after they are published and let them know.
    Hope that you are able to get the iPads that you need!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I usually ask them to draft on paper to help them come up with ideas and do a bit of editing, but today I had the students jump straight onto the ipads and that worked well.

    I like your idea of doing the peer editing on the ipads. They also have an editing checklist, but maybe I should create one specifically for this challenge.

    Thanks for your help!


  5. My students are doing the challenge too but I am doing it with notebooks because not all of my students have internet access at home. I have prizes that I will give out depending on what goal they met. We have a classroom wiki and all year long my students have been doing SOL on the wiki on Tuesdays. They fully understand the idea of a slice. For this month they must write at home. I had to set a minimum of eight sentences, because you know the ones who will do the bare minimum. Out of 27 students, 25 have consistently written almost every night and quite a bit. Each day they check in with me and we chat for a second about what they wrote about. We then track their writing on a chart if they did it for that day. I also incorporated sharing this week. It is totally optional. My students have been doing sacred writing time all year long so this is not hard for them. They know it is okay to break writing rules and this SOL is a safe place. I just want them to write. At the end of the month they are going to choose one piece and polish it up (revise/edit) and we will make an anthology of it. I am pretty excited about it and so are they.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the idea of sharing posts out loud because I’m not sure that all of my students are reading each others’ comments on the blog. We also use a sticker chart to help keep track of posts and it is working really well!


  6. I hear you! I too have had all of these problems and I teach fifth graders. The slow writer, the technology, the moderation. I don’t know if I can offer you any support other than, this is to be expected. The idea that your students are connecting with writers outside your school is tremendous. Celebrate those who do and those who attempt understanding that all are reaching.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Welcome to the joys and struggles of the Classroom Challenge! Hooray to you for jumping in. If your students are writing more than they were before, are engaged in the writing process, and realizing that writing is something that people do in the ‘real’ world – count the experience as successful. The rest is gravy, really.

    The first few years I had kids joining in I had them write in the notebooks, we didn’t even consider the technological aspects – it all seemed too daunting and getting admin approval for everything was challenging. The next step I took was taking pictures of their writing and sharing those on TWT.

    I now have students writing, posting, and commenting. Students write ideas in their notebooks, but when it comes time to ‘slice’, they write directly on the Blogger and then put their link on the class blog. What they post may not make sense. I only have one native English speaker in my entire class. Language and writing ability play into it, but realizing that their classmates, parents, teacher, possibly the principal, and students around the world might read their words has them excited to communicate clearly. If something is posted with mistakes, I sure don’t take it personally – it is authentic student work.

    Starting in 3rd grade our students have their own email addresses and thus access to all things Google in our edu account. Teaching them ‘real life’ skills is one of my goals. I don’t approve all posts before they go up. They know there will be consequences if they post something that is inappropriate. (This goes for posts and comments.) We practice both on paper before they get to set up their blog. I then check content as I read and comment. We all know which students are more likely to make good choices and who we need to check more often. 🙂

    I hope you keep at it, in some iteration. We are eight days in and they are as excited for writing as recess these days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your experience!

      My school doesn’t officially give students email addresses until middle school. If I were returning next year I would try to convince admin to hand them over in third grade. For now they are extremely motivated to post on our classroom blog and they just use my work email.


  8. You can start staggering your workshop where one group is doing an outline, one doing the rough draft and one doing final copy (publishing).
    You can have set publishing days for different kids. That way if 5 kids are publishing each day, you won’t have to worry about borrowing iPads from other teachers.
    They’d still be writing every day (or working on the writing process), but they don’t have to publish every day.


    • Hi, Kat. Thanks for the suggestion. If it becomes necessary I think I will do as you suggest. For now, it is working out really well and is very motivating for the students to actually type their responses up every day.


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