Slice of Life 2021 Day 1: Looking

Today marks the first day of March, the first day of the Slice of Life blogging challenge. I’ve committed to write each and every day during the month of March and – who knows? – maybe even longer. Join me!

A commitment to writing each and every day. Am I looking forward to it? Down into the abyss of overcommitment? Up into my imagination, into my own world of wonder? In at my sense of resolve and discipline?

There’s no doubt about it. The comfortable side of my brain is dragging her feet, crossing her arms and shaking her head in disbelief that I have committed myself to one. More. Darn. Thing. Still, I know full well from my participation last year how incredibly valuable this challenge is for me as a writer, a teacher, and as a human.

I’ve become braver as a writer. I’m almost as brave as my students, and I still hope to write with the same fearlessness that they do. The more I write with and alongside my students, the more respect and admiration I have for what they do.

I’ve also realized that I have the power to take the writing community I’ve come to enjoy, and bring that to my students. Why shouldn’t they have the benefit of seeing and hearing others discuss their work? Why shouldn’t they see themselves as real writers, with real audiences, writing with genuine purpose?

That’s the work I’m taking on, both this month and in months to come. We’re setting up trusted reader circles: groups of students who read one another’s work, cheer each other on, and offer honest feedback and support.

Today we dipped our toes into the waters. We used a piece of writing I did last year during the Slice of Life challenge as a mentor text for how we might talk about one another’s work. Then, they’ll do the same thing for one another.

Where will it go? Well, I’m hoping this catches on, that students will feel their writing is good enough and strong enough to serve as mentor text any day of the week. I’m hoping kids will see themselves as true peers and collaborators. I’m also hoping I can take this model and farm it out to other teachers.

Look out. Here we come!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

20 thoughts on “Slice of Life 2021 Day 1: Looking

  1. This is so exciting, Lainie! I love how you are encouraging your students to be a community of writers! I loved this insight, “I’m almost as brave as my students, and I still hope to write with the same fearlessness that they do.” Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could all be as fearless as this!

    1. Thank you! And YES. I only wish I could be as courageous as my students, in oh so very many ways. One thing that brings me great joy is to let them know – repeatedly! – how much I value and admire what they have to offer.

  2. I could relate to the different parts of your brain that both want to embrace and ignore this writing challenge. But after doing this for 10 years, I have come to enjoy the rewards of jumping in, dusting off my blog and joining the writing community. Good luck with your challenge!

  3. Yes, having an audience to write for makes a big difference in the work that is produced. Forming a community of writers is a great way for students to get their thoughts and ideas across to others as well as to value the thoughts and ideas of others.

    1. Thank you! And my kiddos – identified gifted/talented students – REALLY need to learn and internalize the importance of others’ skills and perspectives. =))

  4. Bringing in all the components-sharing, discussing, positive commenting, revisiting previous stories… is an integral part of becoming a better writer. How exciting for your young writers!

  5. Lainie, I love the idea of trusted reader circles! Writing is so often thought of as a school activity (preaching to the choir alert) because it’s usually a student-teacher thing. Getting others involved is wonderful!

    1. Thanks, Tim! I’ve been building the idea bit by bit over the years, and I’m finally at a point where I like what the students and I have created together. We’ll keep trying!

  6. I like you kind of questioned whether I wanted to do this challenge this year. But the Monica in me said-you would be in competition with yourself to do better than last year! And so I’m here. I’m looking forward to reading your Slices again.

    1. Ha! Oh yes. And technically, I shouldn’t complain this year. I was slicing last year while finishing up my Master’s degree. This slice should be a piece of cake (yeah, right)!

  7. “I’m almost as brave as my students, and I still hope to write with the same fearlessness that they do.”

    This line gave me chills; I admire you so much. I ALSO love that you used one of your own writing pieces a mentor text – what a brilliant idea!

  8. We SO need to farm this model out to other teachers, and to more students; the power of writing is one thing but as you illustrate here, the real growth comes from putting it out there to share. It IS worth it – and your words are always a gift. (Note my special word there). Can’t wait to see what comes from your creative soul.

    1. Thanks! This is exactly what I’m trying to do – try out strategies and farm them out to teachers who are up for the adventure. And…thanks, Fran. ❤

  9. Best part of being back slicing after a two year absence is the reunion effect, catching up with slicers and meeting new ones. Your post feels particularly useful for returning slicer too — a refresher course in getting stated.

    Hmm… what about returning slicer as another slicer category?

    1. Yes! Agreed! I love this community, and it really has fueled the work I do with my writing students. And…hmmm…returning slicers. Gives us veterans something to think about!

  10. Love this line “ The comfortable side of my brain is dragging her feet, crossing her arms and shaking her head in disbelief that I have committed myself to one. More. Darn. Thing.” Every night pre-slice I’m feeling it… but I do agree with you on why we keep coming back.

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