Slice of Life Tuesday: When OLWs become SOLs


Join Two Writing Teachers to: WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE a link to your post in the comments section. GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

Last Friday, morning and afternoon, we began block by sharing our One Little Words.  Why now at the end of October, not in September (the start of the school year) or January (the start of the calendar year)?  Well, because, for my sixth graders, THIS is really when the year begins.

We know each other.

We know our routines.

We have mastered having lockers, and navigating the hallways.

We have figured our schedules.

We have figured out our teachers.

And we are ready, at last, to begin figuring out what we want the OLW for our sixth grade year to be.  So, we walked through a minilesson:


Examined mentor OLWs from last year:

BELIEVE: The definition of BELIEVE in the dictionary is: “to accept or regard something as true”.When I think of the word “believe,” I think of believing in yourself and others and thinking you can do it. If you believe in yourself you need to trust yourself. This year I want to believe that I can do anything. For example, practice sports regularly, take hard tests, and stay calm in stressful situations. I will try new things and not say that I can’t do it. I will believe that I am good at something and not be that person who says “I did terrible!” When I tell myself I will do something I will complete that and that will be because I believed I could do it. When I have a soccer game I won’t say “I can’t score.” Instead I will tell myself I can do it and that will bring me even closer to completing my goal. Believing will help me a lot this year and will bring me closer to success.

LIVE: The dictionary definition of LIVE is: “to have life, as an organism; be alive; be capable of vital functions: all things that live”. But to me it means a lot more than that. To me the word LIVE means to enjoy what is happening in the moment, to savor every second of every day.
I chose the word LIVE because I am always looking ahead to the future. I am always thinking of what’s going to happen next. My parents are always telling me to enjoy the moment. But I still never did. Because of this I never focused on enjoying the company of others. I never thought about how I could be a better friend. I never thought about being kind to others. I never thought about stepping up for my beliefs. I never thought to savor the moment. For me, it was always to look to the future; to what was going to happen next. But I don’t want to be like that anymore. I want to go to school, not thinking about the next weekend, but thinking about what was happening around me. I want to go to my friend’s house, not thinking about where I was going after I left my friend’s house, but thinking about how I could be someone that my friend remembered as a great person.
LIVE. My One Little Word. A word that I will try to live by, not by the dictionary definition, but by MY definition. The One Little Word that will shape me into a better person.

And then we got to work, and brainstormed, and talked, and mapped, and brainstormed some more.  Finally, on Friday, we were ready.  I had the treats:

images (6)


My kiddos had their OLWs:

photo 1 (24) photo 2 (20) photo 3 (14) photo 4 (10) photo 5 (7)

The classroom was quiet as we gallery walked our way from one OLW to the next, pausing to leave compliments. The OWLs became our week’s SOLs (love these acronyms!), and my kids left wonderful comments for each other:

  • Since reading this I feel that I really can improve and I never noticed that before!
  • Yes – everyone one of us has areas in our lives to improve. Great choice!
  • This is a great word for everyone because nobodies perfect and everyone can improve on something.
  • I also need to improve on lots of things.
  • I like how you were honest about what you need to improve.


October comes to an end, the new marking period is just around the corner, and we have OLWs to guide us.


23 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: When OLWs become SOLs

  1. I love this activity. You have the ability to make your students dig deep. They are identifying who they are and who they want to be. This is powerful stuff for a sixth grader. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Tara,
    Powerful evidence of student learning and reflection about themselves as individuals and also the learning from each other as you all “gallery walked!” Great timing! So love that you did not “rush” to OLW – thanks for sharing your rationale!

  3. It’s exciting to read about how your blogging life seeps into your writing workshop. To read your students’ OLW is exciting and to know that this could set a foundation for the rest of their lives in choosing their own OLW. Looking forward to seeing you at NCTE.

  4. Oh I love reading about the magic you create in your classroom. You are so right about waiting to do this work. It is deep and meaningful at this point in the year. I thought about doing it with my kiddos last year and didn’t. I have to think on it for this year. Beautiful work.

  5. What a great activity for the to do. Wish I had known about OWLs when I was still teaching. It is a goal set be each student for her/himself and something they can revisit as the year goes on.

  6. I too like the way you created trust in your community before you did this “put yourself out there” activity. Your classroom must be a magical place. I would love to visit!

  7. I think the beginning of the school year is a great time to dive into OLWs. Love the treats you brought for the celebration too. Yum!

    BTW: Is that your bracelet? If so where did you get that? It’s awesome! (I might need one.)

  8. Love that you do this with your students. This is my first year having an OLW and I have really enjoyed thinking about it and reflecting throughout the year. I look forward to reading about how you continue the conversation with them throughout the year.
    Thanks for sharing

  9. I’m with Stacey, where did you get that bracelet?!?! Secondly, I LOVE this lesson. We’ve talked about OLWs in my class. I’m going to start 2nd quarter with this. Thank you!!!! I’m so incredibly grateful for my PLN!! YOU make me a better teacher. (We used your slice about the Saturday at TC as a mentor text. My 6th graders loved it!!)

  10. I admire that you waited Tara, until the students knew that this particular year was going to be a reflective year, one in which they had choices to grow as learners and as human beings too. I know from what you share that your first weeks are planned to send such a message, and so now, the OLW, time to look more deeply inside, to see what might be possible next. Great stuff!

  11. I never did OLW with my students, but I see the importance of your timing. I love “seeing” the OLWs in the pictures you shared. As always, I love peeking into your room! I’m trying to entice some of my former colleagues to begin SOL with their students and your posts are the best support around.

  12. I love this post, Tara. That you waited till a time when connecting with each other and reflecting deeply could happen. Using OLW with young people to help them dig deep. The mixture of your writing and your photos is magic. And I can only imagine that being in your classroom is magical too. Lovely.

Thank you for reading my blog! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s