Tag Archives: blogging

#AtoZChallenge

I just completed the Slice of Life Challenge yesterday, writing daily for the month of March. During that month, I cultivated a habit of writing something every single day. I can’t imagine not writing every day now, so here I am embarking on yet another blogging challenge. This one is the A to Z Challenge, where writers write 26 posts corresponding to the letters in the alphabet during the month of April. The challenge asks writers to choose a theme with which to focus their posts.

Something that’s been ruminating in my head lately is this concept of memoir. Memoir, by definition, is “a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources,” but to me, a memoir is more than that. A memoir is not simply the historical facts of a person’s life, rather it includes reflection along the way. It calls the writer to examine his or her life, pulling to the surface specific memories that have meaning, making sense of one’s life, particularly through those everyday, ordinary moments.

As a reader of memoir, the ones I tend to enjoy the most aren’t those that are grandiose in nature. Quite the contrary, I prefer memoirs that recount life, as we live it. Honest memoirs, that look at the good and the not-so-good parts of life. Quirky memoirs catch my attention. One such memoir I thoroughly enjoyed was Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I picked it up because AKR was one of my favorite children’s book authors, but I didn’t put it down because it was engaging and quirky, and like nothing I’d seen before. It presented her life, in alphabetical order, as encyclopedia entries, some long and some short, but all showing pieces of who she was. As someone who has a lot to say for some letters, and not as much for others, this encyclopedia-esque format seems fitting.

I hope you’ll join me as I attempt to make sense of my life’s memories, documenting the parts that stick out in my mind. With that, let this month-long writing challenge begin.

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What the SOL Challenge Means to Me

The Slice of Life Challenge is a very important part of who I am. Seven years ago, I took a risk and put myself (and my thoughts) out there for the world to see when I joined the SOL Challenge, and I’ve been excited ever since.

I had been following TwoWritingTeachers for about a year, and I loved reading all their posts about the art of teaching writing. I soaked in all the knowledge that they had to give. I shared posts with my friends and colleagues, tried out new ideas in my classroom, and spent hours poring through archived posts, jotting down ideas for later use. One March, I saw the SOL Challenge posts and wondered, What’s this all about? I read some of the slicers’ posts, and sometimes even commented, but thought, There’s no way I could do that! Who has time to write every day? And what would I even write about? Fast forward to the next February. I had convinced myself I would give it a try. I created a blog and once March came, I began sharing my stories. I didn’t post every day that first year, but I put myself out there, and I was proud of that.

I’ve now been posting for seven years, and I’m a huge fan! I tell everyone I know that they just have to try it out with me. Just dip your toes in. Start a blog, write some slices, see where it takes you. Most people look at me like I’m crazy. But a handful have taken me up on the offer, and I’ve sliced alongside friends and colleagues. We’ve learned more about one another, supported one another, and grown closer in the process. Some continue slicing the next year and some don’t, but all of them are glad they tried it.

What I love most about the challenge is that it pushes me as a writer. I cultivate a habit of writing each and every day, whether I have something profound to say or not, whether I feel like it or not. The quote is true. The only way to become a writer is to carve out time daily to write. I look forward to this challenge before it begins, and I mourn it when it’s over. I need that daily deadline to consistently put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I’ve also grown immensely as a writer through the years. Looking back on my old posts, I can see how my craft has evolved. I am more fluent, more engaging, and try out a variety of techniques now. I can always improve, as we all can, but I am proud of the progress I have made thus far. Over the years, I have also become more open and vulnerable in my writing, something I had always wanted to do. Prior to the challenge, I’d put up a mental block and I wasn’t fully open in my writing. Through the support of other slicers and their examples of laying it all out there, I have begun opening up and showing more of who I am.

I have also grown to love this writing community. This community embraces everyone, pulling us into the fold, and supporting us with their heartfelt comments. I know it’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again. Comments fuel writers. Knowing we have an audience who’s reading our words is important, but knowing we touched someone else enough to leave a comment is magical. Comments leave me with an understanding that what I say matters. Through the course of my time on the challenge, I have cultivated friendships with other slicers. Even though we’ve never been in the same room (or the same country in some cases), by reading one another’s thoughts, we share a bond. We learn to care about one another. It’s an unconventional friendship, I admit, but I cherish the relationships I have made with Elsie Stacey, Sandy, Karpenglish, Amanda, Leah, and Anne, among others.

One of the coolest things about this challenge is that I have a time capsule of one month of my life for the past seven years. Not many people can say that! Looking back at my slices is a window into my life. And for some reason, March tends to be an eventful month! I’ve had multiple injuries, many adventures, and lots of normal day-to-day stuff, too. I enjoy looking back and reminiscing on the person I was then, wondering whether I would have done the same thing as the me I am now.

As a traveler and an expat, I try to write blog posts about my life abroad, but I fall short and typically only post a few times a year, but the SOL challenge gives me ample opportunity to write not only about my travels (I’ve been on Spring Break every March except this year- my holiday is next week.), but about my life as an expat in another country. I have lots of random posts about China, Albania, and now Thailand. This challenge gives me the opportunity to treasure these moments, no matter how small. When I’m 70 years old, sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows with my niece and nephew and their kids, I’ll tell them about my adventures. And when my old, tired brain doesn’t remember all the details, I’ll have my slices to look back on to remind me.

This challenge is a gift, and I am forever grateful to TwoWritingTeachers for hosting it, and to the SOL writing community for continuing to support me year after year.

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Join Me!

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Have you wanted to stretch yourself as a writer? Do you want to cultivate a habit of living life with your eyes wide open? Do you want to foster a routine of writing daily, which will grow your writing muscles? Would you like to be part of a welcoming, supportive writing community? If so, then I have just the thing for you!

It’s nearly time for the Slice of Life blogging challenge to begin! I have been mentally planning for and anticipating this month for a while now, and I’d love for you to join me. This is the tenth annual Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC) hosted by Two Writing Teachers, and it’s my seventh year to participate. My first year, I dipped my toes in, blogging a few times a week, but I’ve blogged everyday (or nearly everyday) since then. I’m gearing up for a full 31 days of blogging again this year!

What is the SOLSC all about?

  • Slice of Life stories are pieces of your ordinary life that you tell through a narrative, poem, photos, etc. For more information on a SOL story, click here.
  • On your own blog (an existing blog or you can create a new one- it’s easy!), you write a blog post daily.
  • Link your blog post permalink to the Two Writing Teacher’s daily call to slice as a comment.
  • Read at least 3 other blogger’s posts and comment on them.
  • There are prizes that you can win if you blog everyday for 31 days and comment on at least 3 other posts daily, but the real prize is in the experience.

Here’s what you can expect if you join me in the SOLSC:

  • A renewed passion for writing
  • To have a place and the space to try out new genres and play with different styles of writing
  • Meet new friends (even if it’s just on the interwebs)
  • Make connections with others
  • Cultivate a daily habit of writing (even when you think you won’t have time)
  • An appreciation for ordinary days
  • To find stories in seemingly meaningless interactions and experiences (this is where that “living with your eyes wide open” part comes in)
  • To be fueled by an audience (there’s something special about knowing others are reading your posts)
  • Your stamina and energy for writing to strengthen

Here are a few posts for you to learn more information about the challenge:
Tenth Annual SOLSC Information
First-time Slicers FAQs

This challenge has personally changed me and helped me become a better writer. I came across this post today that I wrote back in 2012, my second year in the challenge, where I reflected on my writing journey. I love this snapshot of where I was as a writer then. I’ve also “met” people who I now call my friends, even though we’ve never met in real life.

March has come to be a month that I cherish, savoring each day, seeking out that spark of inspiration for my daily “slice.” I want to share my passion for this project with you. I hope you join me this year! If you need help creating a blog, I can help! Just ask. And if you do join the challenge, let me know. I’d love to follow you and read your slices. Happy blogging!! 🙂

Student Bloggers- SOL

This week began fourth grade’s Blogging and Digital Citizenship Unit. I am fortunate enough to be a co-teacher during this unit, along with Melissa, our technology specialist, and Bill, the head teacher. Our purpose during this unit is for the students to contribute positively to an online community whilst documenting and sharing their learning and reflections with others.

Their Unit of Inquiry is “Where We Are in Place and Time” and their Central Idea is “Ancient civilizations have paved the way for present societies.” Throughout this Unit of Inquiry, their focus will be on the “Silk Road.” I am so excited to read all of the students’ posts and comments about their Unit of Inquiry! Many of them are are sharing their reflections and asking good questions. Some of them are still developing their understandings about the unit and about how to express their ideas on the blog, but I’m confident that they’ll get there soon enough.

Our discussion today centered around commenting, and how comments are essential to driving the conversation forward and deepening our understanding of the Unit of Inquiry. We had the students read and comment on their classmates’ initial posts. We then reviewed those comments and used them to share our expectations for commenting. Rich conversations about the effectiveness of the comments ensued. Some comments were superficial– I liked your post! Good job!. Some were critical– Good ideas, but you made some spelling mistakes. And some were spot on– I agree with what you’re saying about trade and commerce, but have you thought about how and why trade has changed over time? I can’t wait to check the blog and see what types of comments they made last night. I hope they’re less superficial and critical and more thought-provoking!

I’m excited to go on this journey with the fourth graders, and I’m looking forward to sharing my insights about blogging on the SOLC with them. 

Leisurely Sunday- SOL

Today was another sunshine-y day in the ‘hai, and tomorrow’s forecast promises the same (fingers crossed!). Tomorrow is already shaping up to be a great day! The only firm plans I have are a working breakfast with Mel at Element Fresh, where we are planning our 4th grade Blogging & Digital Citizenship unit. So fun…we are stoked to help teach it! After that, I plan on following whatever whimsical desires pop into my head. There will most certainly be some reading involved since I can’t wait to dive back into Reading with Meaning. I’m fairly certain that some aimless strolling will occur. Writing is a must– my slice and some work in my writer’s notebook. And from there…we’ll have to see what happens. I just love days where I get to choose what I’m going to do because the possibilities are endless!