#SOL23 March 19 Writing Memory

A few weeks ago I was sitting behind two former students at church. Sisters, who are only two years apart, who I had the pleasure to teach for two years each. I used to loop between first and second grade so I taught many of my former students for two years. These two sisters look so much alike, when I first met them at the open house before the older sister started first grade, I thought they were twins. All through the church service I was thinking about how I wanted to chat with them afterward and I prayed I could figure out which one was which when they turned around.

The service ended and I was able to catch their attention. “Good morning girls! How are you?” I exclaimed. I took a deep breath and pointed to one and said, “Ellen?” and pointed to the other and said, “and Diana?”

The nodded and smiled. I heaved a silent sigh of relief. We chatted and I learned they are now in 9th and 11th grade. When I asked what they are interested in Diana, the older sister, said swimming and Ellen said journalism.

I have to admit when I heard journalism I wondered if Ellen’s second grade writing experiences had sparked her interest in writing. It also brought to mind an information piece she had written as a second grader about swimming. I couldn’t remember the exact wording in her piece that made me laugh but I knew it had something to do with swimming safety.

Yesterday, as I mindlessly scrolled through Facebook, I saw I had a memory from 7 years ago. I don’t always look at these memories but I was glad I looked at this one because it contained the part of Ellen’s writing piece that made me laugh. I took a screenshot of it so I could remember it.

As I sat two rows behind my former students this morning, I knew I had my slice for today. I don’t know if Ellen will continue to pursue journalism but I do know the writing experiences we provide to our youngest writers can last a lifetime.

My Three Positives in Memory of Tim

1. Though the temperature has been in the 20’s most of the day, the sun is pouring through the windows.

2. I’ve recovered from a very busy week.

3. My husband is making homemade pizza for dinner.

Tim 1972-2022

All month I’ll be joining my sister in focusing on three positives a day in memory of my brother-in-law.

Part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge by
Two Writing Teachers

It’s Almost March

It’s that time of year again.

I’ve spent the last few weeks debating with myself about whether or not to participate in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. I’ve completed the challenge three times and during lockdown I wrote for half of the month of March. I know I can do it. I know it’s not easy. I know it helps me grow but I still question whether or not I can write every day for 31 days.

The first step is always the hardest. This morning I put a reminder in my phone to sign up for the challenge while my class was at recess. “I can’t do it right now,” I told myself, “I need to get ready for school. Besides, it’s too difficult to sign up on my phone, I need a computer.” I put the challenge out of my mind and headed upstairs to get ready for my day.

I found myself with time on my hands today because my student teacher began her final week in my classroom so she is teaching all day. I went to my desk and opened my computer and found the email at the top of my inbox was from my instructional coach, Ona, who slices at On a Thought. I knew there would be a link to sign up for the challenge in her weekly email. I left her email unread and busied myself with the never-ending pile of assessments on my desk. Every time I looked at my computer I saw the unread email from Ona, a reminder that I needed to sign up for the challenge.

I returned from walking my class down the hall to recess and opened Ona’s email. I scrolled past the Spring Break memes and found the Slice of Life section with the bolded title Write with Me! Start Tomorrow! I Clicked the link and made my way to the Two Writing Teachers website only to find the site was quite messed up and the link to the challenge wasn’t working. “I can’t do it at school. I guess I can’t do it until I’m home.” I mumbled.

My phone was sitting on my desk as I started to work on planning for the week after Spring Break. I heard the familiar buzz and looked at the screen to find a reminder – “Sign up to slice”. I picked up my phone and made my way to the Two Writing Teachers website. I navigated through the Google sign up sheet on my phone. I filled in my name, my blog name and url. I clicked the button that indicated I’ve participated in the challenge for 4-8 years and then it was time to hit the submit button.

“It’s that time of year again!” I exclaimed as I hit the Submit button on my phone.

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Metaslice Day 27 #SOL22

I picked up the term metaslice in Elisabeth Ellington’s post Slicing Process on Day 14 and it has been rolling around in my head ever since. The day before I read Eugenia Kout’s slice Method to My Madness, a slice about her slicing process. For the past 14 days of the challenge I’ve been thinking about my slicing process and the way it has changed throughout the challenge.

This is my fourth year participating in the challenge and I tried something different this year based on some suggestion from my instructional coach, Ona, who blogs at On a Thought . Ona is also the organizer of our writing group Teachers Write. The first half of the challenge seemed easier than previous years but lately it’s been more of a struggle to find a slice.

I started getting ready for the challenge on February, 28th by making a template for each day of the challenge. Once I figured out the oddities of WordPress it became quite easy to get each slice ready to go. This has been a huge time saver. In the past I would write my post and then add the footer about the challenge and the graphic. It’s been so nice not to have to spend time doing that each day.

A game changer for me this year was the Seasoned Slicer Strategies that Betsy Hubbard posted at the beginning of the challenge. Peter Von Euler’s quote was an eye opener, “Before the first day, I try to write two slices. That way I always have one in the bank in case I have a really rough day and have no ideas or time.” I don’t have to slice about something that happened that very day? This was huge, especially when I was on spring break.

At the beginning of the month the Seasoned Slicer Strategies was really helpful and I practiced some of them. While I was on spring break the ideas were flowing and I was able to write several slices ahead of time. Having those templates ready really made that easy too. I even wrote several slices using the WordPress app on my phone while sitting on the beach.

On one particular day of spring break I knew I would have an opportunity to find two slices. We were going to visit the Formula 1 race track under construction in Miami and we were doing a food tour of Little Havana later in the day. After the race track visit I started slicing in the car on the way to the food tour. I finished the slice while waiting for our tour guide to arrive. I hit publish and went about the rest of my day knowing I would comment on the hour drive back to our apartment. A word of caution about templates and the WordPress mobile app, my day 10 slice was published with the date February 28th. I was able to fix the publish date on my computer but I still have no idea how to change it on the mobile app.

Lately my slicing has been more challenging. The two weeks since we returned from break have been hectic. Our trip home was stressful and we arrived home a day later which was not the way I wanted to start my week. I had a report card deadline looming and I was already behind with assessments and grading from being out sick before break. The stress made it harder to notice and slice.

I haven’t had a slice in the hopper since day 15 and I miss that. I’ve written several poetry slices since then. Sometimes I feel like a haiku or an acrostic is cheating and not really slicing but they still come from my noticings. I have to admit a six word slice on my birthday saved me because I wanted to enjoy the evening with family even though some of them were only able to be there through Google Meet. Again my commenting was done in the car on my phone in route to the restaurant.

Finding structures from other slicers has always been helpful. I do have some favorite slicers though I try to stop by to meet new ones too. I’ve started a list in a Google Doc this year and I’ve added links of structures I want to try. I seem to forget about this list when I’m struggling to find an idea. I’ve finally written the metaslice though so I can check that one off my list.

As we near the end of the challenge I am thinking about how I can be a regular Tuesday Slicer. I’ve failed at this since my first challenge in 2018. I’m planning to set up a template for Tuesdays and maybe even put a reminder in my phone. I can’t tell you how many times late at night on a Tuesday I think, “I could have sliced today.” It’s usually when I see a post from my friend Ona. I’m hoping I can convince her to keep our writing group going so we can all become Tuesday Slicers with her.

I am participating in the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my fourth year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Teachers Write Day 18 #SOL22

My instructional coach, who slices at On a Thought, came gliding into my room with her shawl billowing about her just after we settled in from our afternoon recess. She handed me something and said, “You made it to two weeks!” On her way out the door she gave her familiar giggle and leaned in closer to some of my 2nd graders and said, “She’s been writing every day!”

“What???” several of them exclaimed.

I looked up at her and sheepishly said, “I haven’t told them.”

I showed the kids the mini writer’s notebook she handed me. A place where I can write my slicing ideas when I find them throughout my day. I shared about the Slice of Life Challenge with my 2nd graders and filled them in about some other teachers they know in our building who are slicers. I don’t think they were impressed or understood that some of their teachers are a community of writers but they thought my mini notebook was pretty cool.

This is the second year our coach has organized a community of writers in our district. Some write on a shared blog titled Teachers Write and others of us have our own blogs which can be found in the Teachers Write Blogroll. Having a community of writers has been a great way to connect, get to know new colleagues and get to know people, who I have worked with for years, better.

Though this is my fourth year slicing, I have not been consistent with the weekly Slice of Life writing that happens the rest of the year. Maybe this year our community of slicers will continue past the March challenge. If not, maybe my cool mini writer’s notebook will help me to keep noticing and sharing the stories that are all around me. I’ve tucked it in my school bag so it’s ready to go when I need it. I’ve already jotted down an idea that has been swirling in my head. A slice of life I can share with my community of writers.

I am participating in the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my fourth year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Nonfiction Writing Graphic Novel Style Day 29 #SOL21

My second graders have been working on nonfiction writing projects. They have been able to choose from a variety of types of writing for this nonfiction unit. Most have decided to write a how to book but some have decided to write an alphabet book and a few have chosen to try a graphic novel nonfiction piece. This is new for me but I am embracing it because two of my graphic novel authors are reluctant writers.

This week we are focusing on helping our reader get a picture in their mind to teach them our topic. We are learning to use descriptions and comparisons to help give our readers more information. Today I modeled this with my how to book on cookie decorating. Tomorrow I will be modeling this with the graphic novel book I’m attempting to write to teach the same topic. I’m hoping my reluctant writers are motivated by my page on piping and flood.

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Teachers are Writing Again! Day 1 #SOL21

It’s March which means it’s time for the daily Slice of Life Story Challenge. This is my 3rd year participating though I joined mid-month last year so maybe that one doesn’t count. I was grateful for the opportunity to now have a record of some of my experiences early on in this pandemic. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep writing as my last blog post was in April of 2020.

Writing is akin to healthy eating and exercising. I know all three are good for me but there are so many other things demanding my time and attention. Pandemic teaching is taking most of my time and attention this year. I’m excited to be a part of a group of teachers in my district who are coming together to support one another through the March Story Challenge for the first time this year. Some of us are experienced Slicers and some are first time Slicers. Knowing I’m a part of a community is motivating.

I’m pretty much a rule follower so I know I’ll complete the challenge. I’ve done it before so I know I can do it again. While it seems like a daunting task, once you get in the habit you really do start to see stories throughout your day. I find I’m so much more observant when I’m slicing. The past two years I’ve told myself I would continue to slice every Tuesday but sadly, I have not. Maybe this year will be the year.

Writing teachers writing and sharing in a community of writers is powerful. It benefits our teaching, our students and our writing. I’m excited to be a part of that community again through Two Writing Teachers. I’m grateful to my instructional coach @Ona Thought for organizing a group of us to support each other through the March challenge. I look forward to growing and learning with my colleagues as well as connecting with them through their slices when it is so hard to connect at all right now.

From My Chair Slice

I was inspired today by a video my instructional coach (she slices at On a Thought) made to teach primary students about Slice of Life writing. Two years ago she and I worked with my 2nd graders on Slice of Life writing as part of an inquiry I was doing for my yearly evaluation. It was a powerful experience and one I need to return to doing. I haven’t been slicing with students the last two years because of the demands of learning some new curriculum resources. This time of remote learning seems to be the perfect time to try some other types of writing with my students.

So here’s my From My Chair Slice for Slice of Life Tuesday:

From my chair I see . . .

My computer screen.

My new normal classroom.


From my chair I see . . .

Post-It notes at the ready.

Neon green reminders of things my brain can’t hold.


From my chair I see . . .

Stuffies given in love.

Reminders of smiling students.


From my chair I see . . .

An almost empty paper box made for a joyous summer celebration.

A vessel for stress relieving morsales of chocolatey goodness.


From my chair I see . . .

A precious photo of days gone by.

Little boys dressed for Halloween


From my chair I see . . .

All I need to get me through another day of teaching and learning from afar.


slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers

Day 31 or Day 16 #SOL20

It’s day 31 of the 2020 Slice of Life challenge but it’s day 16 for me as I joined the challenge half way through this year. I am thankful to Two Writing Teachers for opening up the challenge midway through the month as a way to help many of us process how the world had changed in just two weeks. I’m grateful to have these 16 blog posts that have chronicaled this historic time.

I read a post earlier today by Book Dragon that was a play on a spine poem.  My fellow slicer encouraged me to give it a try in the reply to my comment on the post so here’s the story my titles tell:

A Slice of Morning Meeting

An Afternoon of Decompressing

Stay at Home Order

Schools Closed Indefinitely


There Will Be Good

The encouragement from other writers throughout this challenge is what keeps many of us writing for 31 days or in my case 16. Thank you to the Slice of Life community for you words of support and encouragement. There were many stories to tell this year. I hope to join you on Tuesdays.

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Two Writing Teachers

I’m not a Writer #SOL20 Day 27

I’m not a writer. I have been saying this for years. If you asked me to describe myself I would not say I am a writer. I would say I am a wife, mom (and now mother-in-law), teacher, knitter, baker and cookie decorator but not a writer. I am a teacher of writing, a blogger and the author of many cheesy personal narrative stories that entertain, and hopefully instruct my students, but I’m not a writer.

IMG_3559 (1)I came across this collection of writing today as I was searching for some plastic page protectors to house all of my important remote learning papers. The oldest of these items is my writer’s notebook from my very first graduate class that I took early in my career in 1992. It was a writing class for teachers of writing that my school district strongly encouraged us to take. Since I needed hours for my 5 year recertification I dove in with another teacher in my building. I wrote personal narratives, article response papers, a book review and the first chapter of a mystery piece but I didn’t feel like a writer after this course.

Some other items were my teaching journals that I kept when I was working as a graduate assistant while working on my master’s degree. I was teaching language and learning education classes to preservice elementary teachers. My teaching journals were part of my teacher research that resulted in my final paper for my degree. My paper was accepted after I completed the revision of one small section but I still didn’t feel like a writer.

Finally, I also found my Slice of Life journal that I used in my classroom two years ago. I was focusing on writing for my differentiated supervision project during that school year and with the help of my awesome instructional coach (you can find her slicing over at On a Thought) we taught my 2nd graders how to slice. It was an amazing experience as was slicing myself everyday during the #SOL18 challenge. Sadly, I have been sporadic with blogging since the 2018 challenge. I find other things take priority over writing. I think if I was a writer I would make sure there was time for it. I appreciate that the Two Writing Teachers opened up the challenge half way through this year. Maybe it will help me to finally become a writer.

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Two Writing Teachers