Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 29: #SOL16-Creating space in sock drawers and on the walls

The Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by the inspirational writers of Two Writing Teachers. Each March, they invite people to join them in a commitment to write every day. Here's to another year of daily slicing!

My husband really likes socks. He tends to buy a lot of them. He's not quite so good about throwing them out, though. His sock drawer used to get harder and harder to close until I instituted a new rule a couple of years ago. If you but a new pair of socks, you have to throw out an old pair. That rule helped a lot of issues. It got rid of socks with holes, it lessened impulsive purchases, and it made the sock drawer easier to close. 

We had a professional day in our district today. Usually, I have a full docket of presenting to do, but today, I only had an hour where I had to work with sixth-grade teachers. Therefore, I got to spend some of my time working with a long-term sub who is filling in for a six week maternity leave. Tomorrow will be her first day on her own with the students, and it's the first day of a new writing unit. With the sock drawer in mind, we worked on making space for a new writing unit. Together, we:

  • Cleared out the writing folders. Students need to feel like they have a new beginning in a new unit. Having space will help them grow as writers.
  • Cleared off the bulletin boards. Classrooms that use the writing workshop model should be growing and creating charts throughout the unit. When the unit is over and a new one is beginning, it's time to send that message to students. Make room for the new charts to grow. 
  • Set up the structures that will support writers in the new unit. We are moving into opinion writing. Just as they used checklists for narrative and information writing, they will now use checklists for opinion writing, but they need those presented to them. Celebrating those new checklists will help these young writers shift to a new genre. 
  • Envisioned a couple of anchor and process charts that we will co-create with students over the next few weeks. Laminated charts from last year won't teach the students nearly as well as charts that look less perfect but are designed and developed in front of them.
Just as we need space for new socks, we need space for new learning. I'm looking forward to watching these places fill in with great opinion-related work!

Happy slicing!


  1. Melanie, I am in total agreement with you on creating new charts with the children so they can grow their ideas as a community of learners. I love the sock analogy.

  2. Great advice. I took a few charts off the walls today as I returned from break, realizing they had become invisible to us.

    My husband has a sock drawer issue going on too...

  3. Great connection between life and school! Teachers and kids both need to reflect and prepare between units of study. What do you do when you have a ton of socks with no match??? That is my problem!! Thanks for the reminder.

  4. This is so funny, Melanie. I have a tough time clearing out my sock drawer although there are favorites I wear again and again, to the ignoring of those that just stay in the drawer. I love the connection you've made, and it is like the year's opening, to 'clear space', ready for new learning. Nice to read!

  5. I love the analogy between sock drawers and wall space. Sometimes in our haste to bring on the new, we forget to take care of the old. I might share this with my staff.
    Thank you for making me think.

  6. I love the analogy between sock drawers and wall space. Sometimes in our haste to bring on the new, we forget to take care of the old. I might share this with my staff.
    Thank you for making me think.

  7. Love this, Melanie - a fresh new start to sock drawers and anchor charts.

  8. Love this, Melanie - a fresh new start to sock drawers and anchor charts.

  9. Perfect comparison! Thanks for sharing this food for thought!

  10. Love your post! The fresh look makes way for plenty of new learning.

  11. I love how you linked these two ideas. When school resumes on Monday, I'm going to see what I can clear out.

  12. This is so smart, Melanie! You are absolutely right, we have to "make space" for new learning. Thanks for this timely reminder!

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