The March “Slice of Life” Challenge

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When March rolls around, it is time to think about the annual Slice of Life Challenge.  This challenge is sponsored by the Two Writing Teachers blog.  I have participated through my own professional blog for five years.  I’ve involved my students for the last four years.

A “Slice of Life” is small story from your life.  Students write a short personal narrative focusing on a single day or moment in their lives.  To model what a Slice of Life story should look like, I share my own slice.  

I’ve always thought a little romantically about having chickens in my yard. They are so cute, pecking around. My neighbors had a few, so I went by one day and got the tour. And what is better than farm fresh eggs?

When my daughter was house sitting last week, I went by for a visit. The owners left a long list of chores. They included feeding the dogs, the cats, the ducks, the horses, the bird, and the chickens. The chickens were to be fed at 9:30 PM. I believe this was a tactic for getting them into the coop for the night.

After dinner before I left, Maggie wanted to show me this chicken feeding routine, so we fed them a little early. She showed me the back hatch for collecting the eggs. When she opened the hatch, we were excited to see about 7 eggs. I would be taking some home for breakfast. I reached in to pick up two eggs. As I moved my hand out, I looked to the right and noticed a long black rope. Only, the rope moved.

I have a pathological fear of snakes. I cannot even touch a page in a book with a snake on it.  This moving black rope was in a chicken coop. The very one I had just stuck my hands into. I am proud that I did not drop the eggs or scream and run. I just walked away briskly saying, “That was a snake!” I have decided that I will leave the raising of chickens to friends and neighbors.

The Slice of Life Classroom Challenge follows the same 31 day challenge; however, a teacher can adjust the schedule to fit their own classes.  For example, my students will be on Mardi Gras break until March 6th, so our challenge will not begin until they return to school.  I also do not require weekend slices.  For our classroom, I set up a calendar for the days we are in school.  If a student writes all of those days, they will win a prize.  ( I usually allow them to choose a book from the Scholastic book order.) Teachers can reward their students in different ways. Some will celebrate with a pizza party.  Others offer certificates.  

Last year, two of the Two Writing Teachers, Kathleen Sokowolski and Stacey Shubitz, created badges.  These badges worked well to motivate my students throughout the challenge.  Each student chose how they wanted to display their badges.  Some made a booklet; others posted them in their cubby holes or on their desks. You could make a central display for the badges as well. 

When my students complained that they don’t know what to write about, as they inevitably will, we discussed ideas and made a Padlet for storing these ideas. 

Kidblog is a great platform to use for the Slice of Life Challenge.  You can follow other classes who are participating and place links on the sidebar of your own site.  Commenting is an important part of the challenge.  Through comments, we can connect to students across the globe. I designate one day of the month for a comment challenge.  Students keep tally marks of the number of comments they make in a class period.  They are rewarded with a Skittle for every comment.  You don’t have to use candy treats.  You could give a badge or a sticker for a certain number of comments.  These small incentives encourage students to read and interact with others.

The Slice of Life Challenge continues in my class even after March ends.  The Two Writing Teachers call for slices every Tuesday during the year.  In my class, Tuesdays are Slice of Life days.  The Slice of Life Challenge encourages students to write about their own lives, their own feelings, their own ideas. If you engage your students in a motivating challenge, their enthusiasm for writing grows along with their skills as a writer.  If you join them, you can model perseverance and pride.  Please go to the Two Writing Teachers to learn more about how you can participate in this life-changing activity.

About the Author
Margaret Simon lives on the Bayou Teche in New Iberia, Louisiana. Margaret has a Masters degree in Gifted Education and certification by the National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards. She received the Donald Graves Award for teaching writing from NCTE in 2014. Her young readers novel, Blessen, was published by Border Press in April, 2012. She blogs regularly at http://reflectionsontheteche.wordpress.com.

3 comments

  1. Stacey Shubitz

    Thanks for explaining the Classroom Challenge so eloquently, Margaret. I’m thrilled you and your students will be returning this year.

  2. May Small

    I had never heard of this challenge before. It sounds like a fun way to integrate writing into students’ daily routines and I can see how kidblog aids the submission process.
    I am excited to try the challenge with my students.

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