Learning to Teach Writing by Slicing

  • Writers are fragile
    • Writers take risks when they “publish” their writing.  They put heart and soul and sweat into their pieces.  They put a little bit of themselves out for the world to examine and handle and critique.  May each teacher’s words handle the writer with gentleness and care, remembering words can crush, words can uplift.  
  • Publishing is powerful
    • Writers need to publish their work for a “real” audience.  Writing is meant to be read.  Teachers need to give writers opportunities to share their published pieces: blogging, author’s chair, partner reading, letters that are sent to real people, etc.  Publishing brings power to writing!
  • Conferring is King
    • Conferring looks a little different in the SOL March Challenge, but everyone who comments on a slice is having a little conference with the writer.  Did my writing connect with the reader?  Was there a specific line that resonated with the reader?  Did the comment mention certain choice words?  The feedback a writer gets in conferring or in comments is energizing and helpful and spurs the writer on to keep writing.  Teachers need to lift the writer, not perfect the writing.  
  • The Hard-ness of Writing
    • I am a big believer in Writer’s Workshop.  My students write everyday.  Mini-lessons spur them on.  Conferences lift the writer.  Go workshop!  But NOW, I am in the trenches with them, writing everyday, although probably more than an hour.  My ah-a:  Writing is hard.  It is not easy.  It takes work and commitment and tenacity and time.  Is it worth it?  YES!  But teachers need to remember the hard-ness of writing.  
  • The “Workman’s” Writer’s Notebook
    • Writers who write everyday begin to see the world through the eyes of a writer.  Before I started slicing, I had a writer’s notebook;  it adorned my desk and came out to show students how to plant seeds.  Then, proudly, it returned to its place. After I started slicing, I have a “workman’s” Writer’s Notebook.  It isn’t fancy, sticking out of the side pocket of my purse.  Now, I’m a writer desperate for ideas, so when I see the streetlight shining through the fog like a soft, white halo, I grab my writer’s notebook and jot down the idea, trying to capture what I see.  When I hear a little snippet of dialogue, my pen flies across the page.  Now, when a memory flits through my mind, I think, “How could I express the essence, the emotion of it?”  Of course, out comes my pencil to scribble it down.  What a change from my “teaching” Writer’s Notebook.  
  • Borrowing Structure
    • I enjoy reading slices.  In fact, time flies when I start reading them.  Other slicers (I did, too) sometimes comment that the structure for their slides are borrowed from other writing friends who have posted their selections. Teachers need to help students know how to use structure as a way to generate new ideas.
  • Believe in Best
    • Teachers need to believe that writers are doing their best work.  Slices are the best work that the writer created at that moment in time.  Not one slice screams, “The writer didn’t try to do a great job.  She threw out junk.”  We need to keep the faith with our budding authors!  Believe they are doing their best.
  • The Rightness of Writing
    • Writing is worth it!  Everyone’s life is full of the stuff of stories.  Teachers need to help students understand this!  Writing gives the vehicle, the voice to those stories.  It is right to write!




About bjdonaldson

I'm an average woman who enjoys reflecting on life, writing poetry and ponderings, and having a good laugh. DIY, baking, and cycling are fun, too. If you visited me, I'd invite you in for a cup of coffee and a little chat. I am a Literacy Coach, Reading Specialist, and former classroom and Reading Recovery teacher at an elementary school. Getting up in the morning is not hard; I still love making a difference in the lives of children and teachers.

8 responses »

  1. What a smart reflection. I had to smile over your workman’s writer’s notebook because, like you, I am a writer desperate for story. There are times I get the idea down before I lose it, and other times when I think I can remember it only to find it soon gone. Keep writing (and learning)!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your thoughts about “writers are fragile” and the “hard-ness” of writing seem to speak directly to me as a writer. Thanks for capturing these thoughts in your slice. I was meant to read them tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many wise words and reminders embedded in your reflection. A few that stand out: words can uplift and crush, teachers need not perfect the writing, believe students are doing their best at a given moment. Great slice!


    • I never really thought about students doing their best work until now when I am trying everyday to do my best work. It may not always be “the best” if compared to all the other talented writers who post, but I am trying my best. Thanks for the comment.


  4. Such a powerful reflection on the power of teachers as writers! I love your Aha moment, “Writing is hard. It is not easy. It takes work and commitment and tenacity and time. Is it worth it? YES! But teachers need to remember the hard-ness of writing.” YES! YES! YES!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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