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A slice a day and we can't stay away!

It all started just as we were getting ready for reading and writing workshop. There was a soft knock at our door. More than 20 eager grade five students, our buddies, were lined up outside our classroom. I had forgotten that we had planned to get together to work on peace messages for our school yearbook.

Time to shift gears.

Forty-five minutes later my students and I sat down to slice for 12 minutes until the bell rang. I told the kids to take a minute or two to think about what they wanted to write - something that happened today, yesterday (teachers had a professional day and so the children didn't have school), or even on the weekend. We were interrupted twice before the 12 minutes were up and both times I had to step outside the room. Each time I returned the children were intently writing in their writer's notebooks. Even when I rang the chimes to signal the end of the writing time they didn't stop right away. Gotta love it!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to finish my slice, which is why I'm doing it right now, or to read the children's entries today. Hopefully, a few parents will return the permission forms tomorrow and I can start to post the children's slices.
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I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!