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My 7th Graders' made SWT slides for all my classes for the last six weeks of school this year! It was awesome.

Last spring, teacher Julie McCarragher from Wisconsin, sent me her middle school students' self-created Sacred Writing Slides they had designed for the month of April.  Here is a direct link to that original blog post where you can see some of her students' slides.

Now I love the set of SWT slides Dena and I created so much (as do my kids...if you don't believe that statement, please come observe my classroom on a day when I have forgotten to post the slide of the day for the kids to look over when they walk in at the beginning of class. Within seconds, they'll be in my face, demanding to see the slide of the day).  I knew my kids' slides wouldn't be as good as mine, so it was hard for me to commit to this cool idea...but...

I really liked Ms. McCarragher's idea though; I truly believe in the importance of handing over classroom responsibilities to your students after giving them lots of good modeling, which I had done with SWT time. My kids had studied the format of my daily slides, they noticed I included themes and sometimes tried to link the four ideas on each slide together; they wanted to try this too.  It took only two visits to the library, and they all had their research done.  I posted this swt_template.pptx for the slides we needed to our classroom Edmodo site, and over 80% of the kids had sent me their slides over e-mail by the posted deadline.

I have 75 seventh graders, and if I'd assigned them all a different day, that would have been 15 weeks of them creating Monday-Friday slides, which I couldn't organize in time, so we started on April 21, and I had two or three kids sign up for each school day between that day and the last day of school before final exams.  All slides were due to me on April 14, and my student aide put them all together in one folder that lived on the desktop of the computer hooked to my Smartboard. Every morning, during our fifteen minutes of "advisory," which is what we call "homeroom" at our school these days, my 8th graders would look over the two or three slides submitted by my sevvies for that day, and they would vote on the one that would inspire the best possible writing.  

It turned out to be a really cool way for my seventh graders to feel they had some control/say in the "Sacred Writing Time" portion of my class.  All the sixth graders, seventh graders, and eighth graders who had forgotten to come to class with an idea for their ten minutes of sacred writing time were dependent on the slides made by my sevvies.   It was a great exercise in my classroom feeling like a community of learners, which I strive to make happen for them.

I am attaching the first ten days' slides that were chosen by the 8th graders as "winners."  I would have included them all, but they really do take up a lot of hard-drive space, and the first ten will certainly give you the idea of how this all worked.

If you're still not starting class each day with "Sacred Writing Time," I guess I have to ask, "Why not?"  Over 90% of my students this year cited our daily SWT as the practice we used in class that impacted their improved writing skills the most.   You don't even have to buy our Sacred Writing Slides, Bingo Cards, or Writer's Workshop Choice Menus to start.  You just have to establish the routine, participate in the practice (at least for the first month), and honor the kids who are putting themselves into the practice whole-heartedly by showcasing their creativity.  

My kids don't groan when I say, "10 minutes of Sacred Writing Time begins now!"  They groan when the ten-minute timer goes off and ask, "Can we have two more minutes?"  I know I'm doing it right when I hear that from them.

--Corbett & Dena Harrison (http://corbettharrison.com)

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