One of my favorite parts of the Classroom Slice of Life Challenge is reading the reflections my students inevitably post on the final day. There are unprompted and it seems like one student starts by posting their thoughts and others are inspired to do the same.
I know how important the Slice of Life Challenge is but my students don’t always see the value. When I first introduce the challenge in February there are always groans, moans, and threats of tears. “I can’t write a post every day! I don’t have time! I’m a terrible writer! No one wants to read what I write!” are just some of the responses thrown my way. But we talk about idea clouds (our version of heart maps) and making time for writing. I tell them that they get better at sports and music by practicing to writing is not different.
And then we begin. All of my students are challenged to complete 31 blog posts but they are only required to complete 10 entries (a big change from the every-other-week posts required during the rest of the year. (I do offer extra credit to students who complete more than 25 posts, though). The posts start out slow. There are lots of posts about “slicer’s block” and about the difficulty of blogging on a regular basis. But then they settle into a rhythm. Soon the blogrolls are full of posts about the intricacies of high school life, favorite meals, memories, and the power of procrastination. And because each student is required to leave 40 comments on their peers’ blogs over the course of the month they build community.
Tonight the reflections started. I get teary-eyed reading them because they get it. They really get it. Every student takes away a different lesson, but they all take away something. Some students have honed their time management skills. Some students have learned how to let go and just write, leaving their perfectionist tendencies behind. Some students have built an audience on public blogs, learning how to write for an audience other than me. And the lessons go on and on.
Some of the lessons my students are reflecting on…..
Over the past 31 days, I have written 31 blogs, about 21,000 words, and at least 94,500 letters on Edublogs. I would give myself a pat on the back, because I contend that this was more than I have written in all of 8th grade.
Throughout this entire month — with all its highs and lows — I was able to get an unprecedented glimpse inside the fascinating (and occasionally, surprising) thoughts of my classmates, learn about new and interesting topics, and, most importantly, improve my writing.
Most importantly, SOL enabled me to explore my thoughts about the world and my experiences in a single verse. Through quiet introspection, I was able to look at details in my life with a sharper eye.
This has been great, really. Thank you, Mrs. Gross.
So, it has been quite a journey! If you asked me yesterday, I would have probably said that Slice of Life is the biggest waste of time ever. Yet, looking back now, I think I might miss posting daily. I do not know why, but Slice of Life has almost served as a daily break. No matter how much work we had, I knew that I had to make Slice of Life a priority. It served as a relaxing, daily break from the rigor of the past month.
Yet on the other side, I learned how to appreciate my everyday life. I learned that every day, something exciting or uncommon does happen. The tough part is finding this and writing it all down.
This is the beauty of blogging, especially blogging everyday. It documents your life. And everything you want to remember when you are old. It doesn’t have to be all wonderful and perfect. Life is bittersweet. And that is what makes it so unforgettable. So starting in April, it is once again dependent on our brains to remember the moments in life.
Thank you, students, for your willingness to try the crazy experiments I come up with, for your devotion to your school work. Thank you for reflecting on your experiences and sharing those reflections. Thank you for opening up your life to me and your classmates, letting us get a glimpse of what your daily life is like.
If you have not tried Slice of Life with your students I hope you do next year. It’s one of the best parts of my year!