Saturday, March 2, 2019

Childhood Chore #SOL19

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  
This year I decided to complete my slice of life challenge through the use of quickwrites.  By doing this, I hope to explore my own writing, identify problems my students may be experiencing with these quick bursts of writing, and show them authentic revisions in the writing process.

Today's quick write comes from the "My Quick Writes" a notebook/source book from Inside Writing:  How to Teach the Details of Craft by Penny Kittle and Don Graves. In this book they talk about the difference between quick writes and traditional writing prompts, which is a common way many students are taught to write.  They describe quick writes as something that "nudge us to discover topics that matter, not to respond to a question that many have nothing to do with our experience."

They suggest the following process:

  1. Choose a starter.
  2. Write rapidly for ten minutes.
  3. Change nothing.
  4. Lower you standards. (This is hard to do when you are writing publicly!)
  5. Let your own thinking guide you, not the prompt.

Here we go:

"When I was a kid I had certain chores I had to do. The first one was..." Write about that chore in all the details you can remember and show your feelings about doing it."

Growing up with three siblings brought many trials and tribulations. My older sister and I are a year apart, so we were nine and ten when my younger sister was born.  We used to wash dishes together, but fought a lot. My mom decided it was best to separate us.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I washed the dishes.  On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, my sister washed the dishes.  Sunday was Mom's day. On the opposite nights, we would have to walk our baby sister in the stroller.  

I really didn't mind either of those chores when I was younger.  But as we all got older, the one chore I hated was emptying the ice trays!  I grew up before automatic ice makers were a thing.  Or if they were around then, well, we didn't have one.  Instead, we had blue plastic ice trays.  A family of six used a lot of ice, so we had eight stack-able trays! There was nothing worse than going to get a glass of Kool-aid or Hawaiian Punch, and no ice!

As a solution to this problem, we created a list that went:  Mom, Dad, Janis, Leigh, Doug, Cris.  The list ran down the side of the paper and down the middle.  Each time we emptied the ice trays, we put the date beside our name. When the ice trays needed emptied, first name up had to do it.

Now, back then, I was not the procrastinator that I am now.  I would get ahead several turns.  I might of have been three or four ahead of anyone else.  So when the ice bin was empty, and the trays needed emptied...nope, it wasn't my turn!

Ways to Use this in My Classroom

This quick write could easily be revised into a narrative, building in small moments with rich details. I could capture a scene of finding the ice bin empty and write about those emotions, or I could create a scene where I proudly announce it wasn't my turn. 

How could you use this prompt for your writing or slice idea?


  1. Oh wow, this one took me back to those chores that seemed like torture, but are now just my daily routine! I agree that this would be a perfect spark for small moments writing. Kids wouldn't normally choose this topic, but it could bring about some great writing with this common experience!

  2. That ice tray system was quite something! Makes me feel like my kids might be missing out. I loved cracking the ice trays when I was younger but probably because it wasn’t a job I had to do. :)

  3. I still have those blue ice trays in my freezer! haha
    I had to vacuum as my chore. Wow...haven't thought of that in a long time.
    In the summer I had to pull weeds by the mailbox.

    I love timed writings in the classroom. The caliber of the writing gets better and better the more you do them. I usually had kids shared verbally to cut down on the anxiety.

  4. I had to laugh at this because at our lake place, we don't have an ice cube maker, just those little blue trays. When I'm there alone, I empty them into a bag and keep plenty of ice ready. But come the weekend, it gets used and then people use the trays without filling them back up! One of the summer's little annoyances.

  5. Oh, Leigh Anne, this takes me back! I started with those awful metal trays with the handle you had to pull up in the middle to release the cubes. My fingers would stick to the trays. I almost feared them, lol, and thought we'd moved uptown when mom finally bought the blue plastic trays!

  6. I still have the ice cube trays in my freezer but wish I had an ice maker! I guess growing up we never had a good system because my ice trays are often empty now and we never have ice. But now that I've read this post, I may be putting an ice tray system in place - thank you!

  7. I love that you are using Quick Writes as your slices this month!

    We had plenty of chores as kids growing up, but not the ice tray system you had!

  8. I wonder if kids today even know what ice cube trays were. We had the silver metal trays with the handle you had to pull up to get the cubes loose. I loved when someone filled them to overflowing so that the separators were cover. This made pulling the handles almost impossible.

  9. I had silver metal ice trays with a little lever that you pulled to unlock the ice! Thanks for the memories.

  10. I remember filling the blue trays and the metal ones w/ the floppy inserts. Every kitchen chore was mine—even when it was supposed to be someone else’s.

    Shout out to you for this writing idea. I just found out Thursday I’ll be teaching a section of sophomores starting Monday, so I’m also looking for ways to promote heir daily writing habit.

  11. I remember the metal trays with the handle Tracy described. Since the second time my ice maker went on the fritz, I’ve been back to plastic. As for quick writes, I like using them and will be guiding a discussion on the topic with IPS ESL teachers at our PD day later this month.

  12. This reminded me of how excited I was when my parents bought a refrigerator/freezer with an ice maker. Sweet liberation!!!

  13. I adored that book set! I adapted many of the quick writes for my fourth-grade students when I was in the classroom.