The Meta-Slice about Slice of Life


(This video is me, as I was writing this morning’s Slice of Life. I used a stopmotion capture, in time-lapse mode. My eyes move a lot! I guess it must be all that thinking! It would be funny to have the camera trained on my fingers one of these days. You’d see a lot of fixin’ and backspacin’ going on. – Kevin)

We’re into the 10th day of the Slice of Life challenge over at Two Writing Teachers, and the sheer number of teachers who are writing with Ruth and Stacey and others this year is … startling.

I have been participating in the Slice of Life for the past four or five years (It’s a blur), taking small moments from our days and writing about them in a reflective way. The first year, we had about eight to 10 regular writers. Each year, it got a little bigger as the challenge took hold. But this year, it has exploded (thanks in part to the influence and impact that Ruth and Stacey have brought to the table as teachers of writing and their book, Day by Day). On any given day, there are more than 100 posts by Slicers, and some days that number has pushed up beyond 150 posts.

That’s a whole lot of teachers writing, and blogging.

I’ve been trying to carve out time to read some of the posts and add comments, just as I have appreciated that many of my fellow Slicers come here, and read and add a few thoughts to my posts. There is a real sense of a connected writing community, and audience is never more real than this kind of writing challenge.

I do get the sense that the intimacy of a smaller community has gotten lost this year, I think. In other years, I would visit a handful of bloggers whom I knew through their writing, and I had some history with them. Their stories resonated because I knew a bit about the back-stories. We created a sort of history together over the month of March. Sometimes, those stories would unfold in different ways the following year, allowing us to notice patterns in our lives.

This year, it’s different.

There are just so many writers that I am meeting someone new just about every day. I am purposely trying to read slices from bloggers that I don’t quite know. Is that a good shift? In some ways, yes. The more we widen our circles, the more we get exposed to different thinking, different teaching strategies, different writing styles. That’s a good thing.

But I do feel more like a boat on the ocean this year, rather than a raft on a lake, you know? I wonder if Ruth and Stacey feel that way, too. In the past, they have worked hard to ensure that every blogger in Slice of Life received a comment. No dead space. No writing into a voic. Someone out there was reading and reacting. I can’t imagine they can pull that off this year. They would have to take a leave of absence from work and family to do all that reading and writing.

In the end, it is heartening for me to see so many teachers exploring with blogging, though, and a few are using Slice of Life as a writing activity in the classroom. My hope is that as teachers use digital tools for writing, they are reflecting on the possibilities for their students in the classrooms. I know, I am. You, too?

Peace (in the meta-slice),


  1. This is my first participation in the “Slice of Life” but I have “lurked” for a few seasons and just never thought I was “good enough” (or maybe disciplined enough) to participate. Yet, THIS is what I talk to both my students during the day and my grad students at night about: writing every day! So, while I WISH I had participated in this before, I guess there were a lot of us, for some strange reason, who decided that THIS was the year to stop lurking and start PLAYING! I do agree that I can not read everything every day….so I set “stops” for myself. If I have 3 comments, then I can respond to no more than 9 posts (3X3 is how I figured this out !)
    PS I’ve followed your blog for a while becuase you write about the technology piece that I REALLY think is the key to our future as teachers – particularly teachers of writing….SO when you responded to a post one day, I almost fell off my chair! I guess that makes you a sort of “Writing Rock Star”…and now you even have your own “Writing Video.”

  2. I agree–it’s hard to read and comment on so many blogs. I feel like I am neglecting the little writing community that has been created through the Tuesday slices. I decided to comment on those blogs first…they are after all, the reason I am still writing. They are my PLN. And then I read and respond to others as I have time. I am finding that there are several I continue to go back to and some that I have only visited once. I hope new slicers are finding their own small writing community…

  3. You have witnessed the shift more than once. I think that even last year the number of slicers was large to keep track of. I got to know some wonderful people and continued slicing throughout the year on Tuesdays. Knowing how important comments were for me last year I try to comment as much as I can, what isn’t very much on some days.
    I thought what I look like when I write and comment. It certainly has many pauses when the fingers don’t move. Commenting sometimes requires more thinking time than writing the slice.

  4. I’m glad you stopped by again to share your thoughts, because they reflect what I’ve been thinking about this year’s challenge…but have not been able to write about. The sheer numbers this year is dizzying, even overwhelming. In reading the above comments, I see that I am not alone, either. I love slicing, practicing the craft and really thinking about my writing. And there ‘s always that lovely sense of fulfillment one gets as a writer, when someone reads your writing and says, “I like the way you…”. But the volume of reading and commenting this year is almost too much, I want to be authentic in what I read and comment…and there are only so many hours in the day. So, one settles into a rhythm, and takes comfort in a comfort zone of how much to read, think about and comment upon.

  5. Love the video – reminded me of Peter Gabriel – half expected to see a train to come out of your mouth.This is my first time slicing so I have no frame of reference for “the good old days.” It’s been tricky for me just to do the basics of the challenge, I’m sure those of you who are used to reading every post and responding to them all (yikes.) are either rethinking that plan or drinking a lot of caffeine this month in order to get the job done. I know that on the days when I have to scramble to either post or respond, I’m being much less thoughtful about it and it feels obligatory rather than celebratory. I hope those of us who have joined in this year haven’t diluted it too much. I can see where it would be bittersweet to see such growth – like watching your kid pedal away from you for the first time after the training wheels are removed? I’m slower in joining the digital ed community, oftentimes I don’t quite “get it” but it has provided me with a rich learning community this year and I don’t want to regress -if that makes sense – so I thought this challenge would push me gently into moving along that continuum. Someday I will have real blog, with photos and things that link to places. But for now, my training wheels are firmly on!

  6. You wrote down the thoughts that have been plaguing me for a week now so perfectly! The only reason this is a plague for me is because I am like the ultimate softie teacher who wants everyone to play well together and nobody to be left out. So, every day as I sit to read and respond to other people’s slices, I find myself spinning around trying to figure out where to start… with the people I “know”? Or with people I don’t know who maybe nobody knows that might need a warm welcome into the blogosphere? Then, I miss MY “friends” and I want to go see what they have to say, but I feel guilty, again, for possibly leaving someone all alone. But then, I think, “Well – it’s not my job to care for all 178, right?” And then, “Geez, jen, way to be selfish!” Ahhhhh! It’s painful! I love it. I hate it. I mostly love it. I don’t mind reading blogs for seven hours, but my bosses probably would…. what to do!?!?! 🙂

  7. Loved the video. You are a brave soul! This is my first time slicing, although I have been following Two Writing Teachers for several years. I think for some it takes some time to warm up to the idea of writing publicly. I know it did for me, and now I have three blogs. I really enjoy this one because I have comments on it everyday. I love the feedback I get. I do not do enough digital work with my students but I am working on it. For a lot of years it was because we didn’t have the tools, but now that we have the tools I am able to take small steps toward it. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. This is my first year in the SOLSC. I’m so appreciative for the format. I have been so grateful for the comments and trying my best to comment on others posts but it is daunting and I feel guilty that I can’t get to more and I admit I’ve been slipping on my reading and exercising in the process. I have been wondering if we need to form cohorts of some kind for meaningful responses. 😉 I appreciated hearing your thoughts as someone who has participating in years past with smaller groups. At the end of the day, at a minimum, I’m just happy to have a reason to write everyday, to go through a similar process as students and reflect upon that so that I can be a better teacher of writing.

  9. I was floored by the number of participants. I heard of the challenge last year but didn’t have my own blog yet. When I started blogging in November it was partly due to Ruth so I began the challenge on Tuesdays. Some weeks I’d try to comment to everyone but couldn’t always – and that’s when it was around 50 people. Now I know there is no way to comment to everyone. But I’ve added several blogs to my Google Reader and try to comment to at least 10-15 a day.

  10. You stated my sentiments exactly, Kevin, and I wrote to TWT about how overwhelming it became for me this year. I got a nice email back encouraging me to take up the Tuesday Challenge if I wanted a smaller community. I bailed on the SOL after five days because trying to read and comment was becoming a stressful situation. Still, I’m happy to see what a success it has become and how it has empowered so many new writers/bloggers.

  11. This is my first year participating in the Slice Challenge. I’m having a lot of fun meeting new bloggers and taking time to read blogs on a regular basis. I’ve appreciated your comments on my blog. I am finding that often I sit down to read and make comments with the intention to spend about a half hour and end up reading for over an hour. It’s given me incentive to join the Tuesday SOL.

  12. This is my first year, and I can see how it would’ve been much different when it was a smaller circle of sympathy. What my experience has been is that micro-communities are emerging within the bigger community. I’ve quickly found some writers whose work I’m drawn to, and am commenting on them near-daily. On the other hand, I’m trying to balance that by consciously seeking out some new people every day, particularly those who have come to visit me! Success can sometimes create new problems and issues; I hope that, moving forward, the ever-larger numbers can be managed and the original spirit of the enterprise can be maintained! If that requires individual writers/bloggers to have more responsibility, I’d be more than willing to help!

  13. I’ve been thinking about these things, too, Kevin. I remember the ease of our little circle in 2008. I’ve been trying to balance checking in with bloggers I know and visiting new pages. It’s been difficult. I told myself to be happy if I read 10 posts a day, but I’ve been pushing myself to 20 and 25 a day, and it’s really too much. For all that, I’m enjoying myself, really relishing the return to this hyper-blogging state, hoping I can make it last through the month.

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