Digilit Sunday was created and is hosted by Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche – join us and share your digital teaching ideas!
Margaret Simon offered a beautiful invitation today to join the March Slice of Life Challenge writing community:
If you are not familiar with Slice of Life, it is a month long writing challenge created by Stacey Shubitz of the Two Writing Teachers. I believe, like Stacey, that a teacher of writing must be a writer. We must practice what we preach. The SOL challenge gears up in March. Today is the day to make your commitment. Be sure to go over to the site and sign up. I testify that slicing has changed my life. The daily practice of meeting a blank page and knowing I have a kind, like-minded audience waiting has made me a better teacher and a better writer.
For those of you planning to take the March Challenge with your classroom, I can offer some first hand advice, and I would begin with this: line up some video prompts. March is a long month, whether you are slicing every day or not – it is the month of standardized tests and no school holidays (not counting snow days, which have become the bane of our teacher existence this endlessly snowy winter). Slicing every day can lose its novelty for many of our students, and it is up to us (the ones who cheer led them into the Challenge in the first place) to offer something new, something thought provoking, something they will want to write a slice in response to when every molecule of their being is rebelling against the idea of writing another slice. Here are a few successful ideas using a variety of video prompts that I have tried out with my sixth graders, I post these as the daily call to slice, and ask students simply to respond with their thoughts and feelings. This open ended invitation seems all that is needed to elicit wide ranging and authentic slices.
1. Video soundscapes, especially ones that center on poetry, such as this one set to Robert Frost:
2. Video clips about how children in other parts of the world go about ordinary tasks that are made extraordinary by circumstances, such as these two:
3. Profiles and portraits about what kids are up to – adventures, exploits, etc., which invite students to ask questions, wonder and respond:
4. Short clips about animal life – my kids love writing about what they learn and wonder about after they’ve watched these:
5. Videos of kids interviewing important people:
6. Music videos, like this one shared at a Summer Institute at TCRWP, which kids could be asked: what’s the story? what’s the message? what do you think about the message?
7. Using Wonderopolis to learn about topics we’ve been perplexed about, are interested in, and affect our lives. I love slices that beginning with: “I never knew…!” or “How cool that…”, such as this one:
These are just a few examples of using video prompts to add student interest and motivation to the March Challenge. We hope you’ll join us, and share your own ideas!