Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Love these writers

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!
Flop. I can't help fiddling with the stack of coarse, creamy, cottony paper in my hands. My fingers relish the gravity and richness of the weight and texture. I love the way this paper feels. Flipping through the pages, I feel the pull of colors: the bold orange Classroom Slice of Life Challenge logo and the vivid, swift blue strokes of my signature and my principal's signature. I love the joy of honoring my students with something special. 

"It's time for the 2018 Slice of Life Awards!" All around the meeting area, eager eyes meet mine and bodies lean forward. "I had so much fun this weekend looking at the results of your voting! And just like A. suggested, this year's certificates are signed by our principal, and he was really excited about your writing!"

My mind flits back to the several days last week we spent submitting award nominations and the final voting on Friday. The sweet silence of engaged readers carefully considering their classmates' writing, broken periodically by whispers (and sometimes not-so-whispers) of "I didn't know you wrote about Omar Mokhtar!" or "Psst, read 'My First Pet'!"
Category checklist on the nomination form. We dedicate a couple of class days at the beginning of April just for visiting classmates' posts, leaving comments, and nominating. Each time they want to make a nomination, students submit this quick form with post title, author, as many of these boxes as they want to select, and a short justification for why that post deserves to win an award. (I have my own ideas of which posts should be up for voting too, but they usually nominate almost all of those, plus some I might not have thought of!)

Some of the explanations in their responses. Very thoughtful, right?
On final voting day, excited whispers and focused silence were also broken by occasional shrieks of "Someone put MY post on there!" and "How am I supposed to choose?!"
Part of the final voting form, made by linking the best 3-5 nominations in each category. We spend one day of class on this final voting, where students must pick one response per category. 
Final results for a couple of categories. Google Forms make it so easy! :-)
I hop a little as the certificates strain to jump out of my hands. "There were so many incredible posts that I know many of you had trouble choosing, and some categories came out quite close. There were even a couple ties! Our first category was "Most Entertaining Post, and I know we all had a lot of fun reading M.'s story about getting stuck on the Space Mountain roller coaster!"

M.'s eyes widen and he sits up straight in his seat. He beams as 22 pairs of hands clap thunderously and I hand him the certificate.

"And of course, we were all laughing as we imagined little A. driving his family's car without permission!"

Giggles all around as A.'s mouth hangs open. "I won?!" His fingers brush the smooth certificate. "Thanks for getting the principal to sign them!"

His reluctance to apply writing strategies has frustrated me all year, and this story was one of his only attempts to truly incorporate a variety of techniques we've learned. I'm so glad his classmates recognized it, and I hope this gives him momentum!

"G.'s strong vocabulary and unique descriptions really helped us feeling how traveling can change our lives... We were all astounded by C's bravery and use of contrast to create strong emotions in his post about his dad... Z. constantly pushed himself to try new things, from poetry to embedding videos..." Goosebumps sprout on my skin as we relive this poignant, powerful month of growth and community.
So much to celebrate! (I forgot to take pictures of the real ones, so here are screenshots!)
Smiles, shining eyes, knowing nods, and real, enthusiastic applause.

My heart wants to float out of my body. I love this day. I love the March Challenge. 
I love these writers. 


  1. What a memorable day for your students!

  2. So beautiful! I teared up reading this as I could feel the community you have built and how powerful this was for your writers. Thank you for sharing; you’ve inspired me!

  3. Wonderful day! Makes me miss writing with students and remember some wonderful past celebrations.

  4. I LOVE that you did awards at the end of the month. Would you be willing to share about this on TWT before next year's challenge? If so, please shoot me an email.


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