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Over three summers we created three unique products that have helped us build the best writer's notebook routine we've ever had in our classrooms. These slides are one of those products, and they can be bought separately from this page, but you can also buy all three items as a bundle and save $5 using the following link: OUR WRITER'S NOTEBOOK BUNDLE BARGAIN
Over the summer of 2012, while on a summer road trip to Oregon, my beautiful and amazingly smart wife--Dena--and I hatched up the idea for this set of slides as a way to increase our students' participation during what we call "Sacred Writing Time" in class. We began creating the set of slides in late July, and we completed the original set on March 30, 2013. Over the summer of 2014, we revised the set so that it contained a slide for every day of the year, including non-school days traditional holidays (for our teacher-users in the Southern Hemisphere), and even a Leap Day slide for 2016 and 2020 and beyond.
"We Write Every Day." This is one of the mottoes used in both of our classrooms. Each school day, the first ten minutes of each class is spent writing in our writer's notebooks; we call this allotment of time "Sacred Writing Time." I spend a lot of time early on in the school year training my students to observe the world with a "writer's eyes," which means they're always looking for something they can write about during those first minutes in my room. Some of my students pick up the skill immediately. Some become very reliant on the Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards or the Writer's Notebook/Workshop Choice Menus I provide for them. Others look to these Sacred Writing Time PowerPoint Inspirations, which are on display as they enter my room using the projector and my Promethean Board.
The slides go way beyond just being holders of potential writing prompts. They house discussion starters that often begin our class period, or they are used for transitional activities as students move into small groups or change partners: "When you're with your new group, everyone come up with a sentence that correctly uses the vocabulary word of the day."
You know you're using them well when, should you forget to have the slide displayed when the first student enters the room, you immediately hear about it. "Where's the sacred writing slide?!" Last year, Dena had a student in every class period who took it upon themselves to enter class first, learn which national holiday it was that day, then stand out in the hallway and announce it to the rest of the students as they enter. These slides--even when the students stop needing them for sacred writing time prompts and ideas--remain an active element of your daily classroom activities.
Finally, I'll share a great idea for the SWT slides that a fellow teacher shared with me back in 2013, and I started using it the next school year and it has become a fun springtime tradition in my classroom. For the months of April and May, I put my SWT slides away and assign my seventh grade students the responsibility of researching and designing the last two months' worth of slides. Students sign up for a weekday slide and create themed slides based on my examples. When students take ownership of a classroom routine by taking over that routine, they become the temporary teachers, and there is no higher degree of learning that can be represented in a classroom.