Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reflecting on Classroom Slice of Life Challenge


Now that March is finished, it's time to reflect on our experience as writers. I’ve unofficially participated in the classroom challenge for the past few years, but this year was the first year we jumped in with both feet! All of my sixth graders are writers and bloggers, but twenty-four decided to say, “YES!” to the invitation to slice daily in the month of March. Six slicers finished.


Writing everyday is hard. Writers know that. Writing during weekends is harder. Writing during spring break is almost impossible. These six students conquered all of these goals. (One wrote her spring break posts from around the world in Pakistan.) They call themselves writers now...but that’s not the best part. The best part is the connections we made.

All seventy-five of my sixth graders commented on student blogs. We commented on the blogs of our fellow classmates. We found Mrs. Victor’s third grade students in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We found Mrs. Spillane’s high school students in Florida. We discovered our strongest connection in a first grade classroom in Ohio. Mrs. Frazier’s first graders grabbed our hearts and we fell in love.

We read their writing and we admired their imaginations. We thought about how hard this must be for first graders and we became enthralled with their dedication and perseverance. We are sixth graders. We are the youngest in the middle school, but our relationship with these first graders gave us students to guide and nurture and mentor.

Soon our challenge was focused on our commenting to our new blogging friends. We talked about how to make a thoughtful and meaningful comment to a first grader. We remembered back to when we were in first grade and thought about what would be good to say. We had so much fun deciphering our friends writing! We wrote posts just for them!


This relationship brings such joy to this classroom of sixth graders. I hear students say things like, “Did you see what Chloe wrote today?” I often hear, “Can we comment on the first grade blogs today?” They take this relationship seriously. It’s important to my students.


One of my favorite things about this connection is that it brought all of my students into the Slice of Life Challenge, even if they weren’t writing a blog post daily, we all commented daily. An authentic audience is so important to any writer. We had the privilege of being that audience for our first grade friends. It’s changed all of us.


Today, we get to “meet” them! We will see their faces and hear their voices, thanks to the magic of technology. We had to reschedule once already. When I announced the new date, a student looked at me and asked, “For real this time?!?!” Yes. Writers meet writers. I can’t wait to see where these writers go next. To read about this experience from Mrs. Frazier's point of view, please stop by the Two Writing Teachers blog and read her post here.

7 comments:

  1. You and your students were certainly busy collaborating last month. Holy smokes! I realized your kids were partnering with Deb's kids, but I didn't realize you had partnerships with Lee Ann and Erika's students as well. That's incredible!

    Bravo to you for inspiring so many young writers this year, Michelle!

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    1. We sporadically commented on those class blogs, Stacey. Technology didn't always work, but we tried!

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  2. Michelle, you have once again inspired and motivated me. Now my mind is spinning. Can I make this happen and how can I make this happen next year with my students? I'm curious what blogging platform you used with your class-Kidblogs or Edublogs? Great job to you, your students, and TWT!
    ~Amy

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    1. Thank you, Amy! We use Edublogs and we are very happy with that platform. Our class blog can be found here: mshaseltine.edublogs.org
      Stop by!

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    2. I've enjoyed viewing your site and reading your students' posts. I've even started to play around with the free version of Edublogs and have some good ideas of how I want to progress. I appreciate everything you have shared. I truly have. Thank you! ~Amy

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  3. I hope you all have a joyful and fun meeting today! What a beautiful relationship you've cultivated, Michelle. So meaningful on both sides!

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  4. Michelle,
    This relationship has been is so powerful! I am in awe of how your sixth-graders nurture the first graders. I can only hope these first graders will one day return this mentoring to a younger writer. Xoxo
    Thank you for all you do with our amazing students.

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