Slice of Life March Challenge – #4: Sharing Sixth Grade Student Slices!

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers
Last year, I brought the Slice of Life to my sixth graders, and we have been slicing every Friday ever since.  I’ve blogged about it here before, but I thought the March Challenge would be a perfect time to share some of the work my kids do (I am so proud of them!), so here are two slices (complete with comments) from this Friday’s Slice of Life:
Nicholas : Slice of Life: Middle School Musical

Here I was standing backstage waiting for my cue to walk onto the stage with my opening line. In the past I had been doing fine. But now I was just beginning to think for the first time about all the things I could do wrong:
A. I could stumble and fall off the stage.
B. I could mess up a line causing a chain reaction of related lines that don’t make sense.
C. I could forget to bring in a prop and screw up any lines relating to it.
D.I could fall asleep in scene 1 in my bed.
E. Pretty much anything that could possibly go on.

Anyway, just thinking about that made me shake and shiver in my hidden backstage spot.

Now I began to panic wishing my cue would never come or the audience would disappear and we would cancel the show because of it. But like I knew, my cue was like a bomb in the middle of the road waiting to go off and there was nothing I could do but drive towards it.
Within seconds the bomb went off and shoved me onto the stage.
I didn’t think my performance would turn out well. But it did!
As you didn’t know until now this was only a Dress Performance! We were going to have the real thing soon, and now I can’t wait. I am so excited for it to come and I will not be nervous for the actual thing!

  • Anne Jennings: Good slice! You really described how nervous you were. I like how you included what could happen on the stage.
  • Mrs. Smith: You used so many strategies to tell this tale – I could sense your anxiety and your desire to get it all right.
    I especially liked this part:
    “Now I began to panic wishing my cue would never come or the
    audience would disappear and we would cancel the show because of it. But like I knew, my cue was like a bomb in the middle of the road waiting to go off and there was nothing I could do but drive towards it.”
    P.S. You were awesome in the play, Nick!!

Rachel : A Question Worth Asking
“Dad?” I say. “Do you think you’ll be free on May 22nd?”
“I don’t know, why?” he asks, curious, “your birthday is on the 25th.”  I smirk.
“I’m wondering if you want to come on the 6th grade trip to Philadelphia with me. It’s my school field trip this year.” I quickly get up from the dinner table and grab the yellow permission slip from my stuffed blue backpack. I practically shove it in his face and start to yack about what Mrs. Smith told us in school.
To tell you the truth, I am very excited about this field trip. It sounded like so much fun when I heard about all the amazing things that we were going to do. Most of all, I was excited to tell this to my dad. I really wanted him to come to Philadelphia as a chaperone. He isn’t usually able to commit to anything in advance because he is always on call for work. He only takes a day off when it is for something extremely important. 
I watch my dad carefully look over the paper. I wait for an answer. I wonder what it will be. What if he can’t come? I keep my hopes up but also prepare for the disappointment that will come if he says no. I promise myself I won’t get upset. I could feel a knot twisting tightly in my stomach, as if I were wringing out a wet washcloth. I was nervous because I didn’t want to make my dad feel guilty if he couldn’t go. There are a lot of politics going on this year. The preparation for the election is a big part of the news. Or what if he got called the day before saying he had to go somewhere for breaking news? That would be horrible.
“This sounds like fun Rachel!” he finally replies after what seems like an hour. My nerves relaxed a bit. ‘Is that a yes, or a no?’ I wonder.
“Yeah. I’m really excited!” I say back.
“I’ll think about it.” He answers, breaking the silence and marking the end of the conversation.
As the night goes on, the knots start forming again. It feels like a big soft pretzel is being twisted and made inside of me. My mind keeps going back to what my dad had said earlier. ‘I’ll think about it, I’ll think about it, I’ll think about it.’ I listen to his voice over and over again like a broken record that can’t be fixed. It seems like I have a one-track mind — what will he say? That night, right before I go to bed, I take out the permission slip one last time.
“Dad?” I say once again. “Have you decided yet, you know, about the trip?”
“Yeah, that sounds great. I’ll take off that day so I can definitely come. He answers. At that point, I am thrilled. The knots untwisted and I felt like jumping for joy. This will be really special. This is an experience that I will never forget, because my dad will be there. 
  • Mia : Nice Job! I really loved when you said,” It feels like a big soft pretzel is being twisted inside of me.”
  • Luke : You give so much of your inner thoughts. Nice slice.
  • Mrs. Smith: Awesome slice Rachel. I especially liked the part where you paused to share all your worries – that added to the sense of anticipation and celebration when you heard his response.
  • Justin : Nice job, a lot of dialogue, which is good for a slice.
  • Caitlin: Wow, just, wow. I can almost picture this happening to me. You described it well, you ended it well, just an awesome slice Rachel.
  • Mia : Great slice Rachel! The way that you described how you felt on the inside and how worried you were was amazing!
  • Madalyn Lyon: You did a nice job adding your anticipation into this slice and a great job adding your thoughts and feelings. Great job!
  • Nicholas : Rachel! I loved this! It most be hard to almost never have your dad home so this must have meant A  LOT to you. This will definately be a day to remember for you!
  • Adeline : I really liked your slice, especially when you said “as if I was wring out a wet washcloth.” Good job!
  • Catherine : that was a great slice. I love how you slowed down the moment and added feelings and similes.
Luke : Carefully, I pulled my ice pick out of where it was lodged into the tall sheet of ice I was climbing, and slammed it back into a spot a foot higher. I looked up to see how far I had left to climb, and saw I was only about halfway up. Slowly I inched up the ice. After climbing for only ten minutes, my arms were already so tired they felt like lead weights dragging me back down. Suddenly, my crampons (spikes strapped to my shoes for climbing) slipped out of the small space in the ice I had lodged them into. My whole body slid several inches. If it weren’t for the harness holding me, I would have fallen twenty feet and probably broken at least two bones. Slowly, I pull myself back up the foot or so that I just fell.
My arms get more and more tired as I climb until I can barely move them. Finally I slam my ice pick into the sheet and pull myself up until suddenly; my face pokes up over the edge of the ice. I slowly look down. Forty feet down, all the other people who came to climb are milling around, some getting ready to climb, others looking up at the people who are already on the ice. Slowly I start to lower myself back down. My feet are constantly slipping as I step, clutching tightly to the rope attached to my harness, down the ice wall. Soon my heels start to feel the ground under them, instead of just empty air and my whole body relaxes.
As soon as I step back from the wall, I feel victorious. I just climbed a forty foot sheet of ice, I think to myself.
  • Mrs.Smith: Woah…I am impressed! You did a wonderful job describing what the ascent was like – very arduous. I can see why you felt victorious!
  • Adeline : I like the way how you made the reader feel like they were there climbing the ice.

12 thoughts on “Slice of Life March Challenge – #4: Sharing Sixth Grade Student Slices!

  1. Rats! I just had some trouble posting my comment and lost it. I hate that! But I did love your post. It was so great to have you share student slices and the comments. What a rich experience for your young writers on both sides as writers and readers of writing. What a role model. I hope you are appreciated ! Lets make plans to get together when we are back home.BonnieTuvia sends his best!

  2. Your students voice is so strong, in their writing and in their comments. I will be saving this to use as a mentor text (if you don't mind). Wow! is all I can say Tara, these are so good!

  3. I wish I could come visit your class. Your students demonstrate such learning. Their voices are strong. This year will live in their memories as such a "magical" time because of you.

  4. These writers provided such descriptions I felt I was in the moment (or slice) along with them. I'd like to share their work with my fourth graders this week. We would appreciate model writing by others near their age. Thanks.

  5. Tara, their writing is just awesome! You must be so proud of their abilities now after all the teaching & the writing. I think, just as we are doing, that when students write a lot, they get better! And the commenting helps them slow down & really look at what's good, which bounces right back to their own writing. Thank you for sharing these pieces. I loved each one.

  6. I too have a sixth grade class of students. However I have an inclusion class. They plan to blog on my site. I'm hoping to have some other adults make comments on their blogs when I post their work. I think it will help boost their writing and encourage them. Thanks for sharing! You do have strong writeres! Happy Slicing! šŸ™‚

  7. WOW this is wonderful. I love the way you not only connected to the idea of "slices" of theri lives, you also commented on their ideas not not their writing mechanics…I can see why they want to share their thoughts adn ideas with you.

  8. Loved each slice and the fact that your students have this opportunity to write and share. Especially love their comments to one another. Thank you for sharing.

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