Slice of Life Day 30: Nearing the End with a New Beginning in Sight

The month of March is almost over as the 2014 Slice of Life March Challenge. Thank you, thank you  TaraAnnaDanaStacey,  Betsy  and Beth  and all the bloggers who contribute to  Two Writing Teachers . Enjoy other slices for day 30 here.

.11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI linger in bed, thinking of how to approach the morning. Sunday is the only day I can do this. Other days are largely predetermined. Sundays feel a little optional. Choice is present.

On my list of to do is this post, the second to the last of the March Slice of Life 2014. The second to the last of my first March Challenge. I lay here, covers over my head, blocking out the light and think on how to end this.  I compose this post in my head.  Bittersweet I think. That’s the word.

I think about big take aways, the personal and the professional. The two are not discrete elements. They are intertwined. One does not live without the other, because I am my classroom and my classroom is me. One thing I know for sure is what slicing gave me I want for my students.

This year the Classroom Slice of Life only worked for a few students, largely because I had a unit of study planned during this time. Those who participated did it in their spare time or recess time.  For most of my kiddos, writing is hard work. They love to blog, but on their own time they’d rather play on the yard, and frankly I don’t blame them. They are kids. They should run and play. For this to work they needed classroom time that I didn’t give them. Also they really didn’t have a community of writers to lean on. That was missing. My students need this community built that expects their presence.

Bottom line —

  • I want my students to consider themselves a community of writers who share and give their writing as a joy not an assignment.
  • I want them to touch each other’s lives daily with personal and academic thoughts.
  • I want them know each other and support each other as writers.
  • I want them to need to show up on the page because their writing friends are there and they deserve their presence.
  • I want them to be not only writers, but readers of writing that give support and thoughtful feedback.
  • I want them to define themselves as writers.
  • I want them to feel they are a part of a community who writes because that’s what we do.

This is the way I want to begin our school year and then continue through the year as a weekly challenge. Then when March rolls around the challenge will be something they will be able and willing to do.

For this year’s students, it’s not over yet. With a bit of schedule tweaking students can blog when they have technology and prepare for their slices on the days when they don’t. I think, I know they will love it!

Now I’ll get out of bed.

Dig Lit Sunday: QR Codes

One of my goals this year has been to increase the amount of digital writing in the classroom, so posting my digital learning on Sundays will push me a bit. Thank you Margaret for inviting me and I look forward to reading all of the thinking offered here. I am a beginner in this world, but what I do know is you must do to really learn!  I heard Katharine Hale and Troy Hicks’s podcast this morning. It is well worth a listen. That is exactly how I want my classroom to be. It is so great to have mentors out there blazing trails for the rest of us to follow on.

Last week I posted a little item about finally using QR codes in the classroom and Margaret asked me to write a little about it here.

my classroom blog

In a nutshell a QR (quick response) code can provide easy access to anything that is alpha numeric with a scan of the code. Typically it’s a URL. In an upper grade classroom where students have access to iPhones and iPads, this this a perfect way to give them quick access to information for research. I have used this to get them to websites quickly, no time is lost on typing in the URL. It seems silly, but I have seen students spend up to ten minutes trying to type in a URL. It takes away from their learning and usually another child’s learning as they help them. For sites we are going to use for a unit of study I have taken the time to load them on to the iPads, but that takes prep. With a QR code, all I need to do is print it out and students scan it. To create a QR code I like It allows for color which helps students get to the correct code to scan. Imagine today’s links for the debate are in red, for social studies in blue. A QR reader app need to be loaded on to iPads, but that is a one time thing.

There are amazing ways teachers have been using QR codes in the classroom. Check this google doc for many examples. I particularly like #52 on this list where students create their own scavenger hunt. Pretty cool stuff.