Last newsletter, I gave away a treasure box (drop box) full of my teaching resources for free! If you missed out on that, I’m sorry, but be sure to subscribe to the newsletter so you never miss out on more fabulous freebies. This week I wanted to take a few moments to explore some of those resources that I spent time putting together for teachers, and how I use them in the classroom.
First up? Let’s talk about a subject I’m passionate about; writing! For a long time, I’ve wanted a student self-evaluation tool in kid-friendly language to give my students more ownership and focus to improving their writing. I could never find a commercially made tool that I liked, so I decided to make one myself. Here it is:
I just run this off on both sides and have my students staple it to their story. Now when they say they are “finished” a piece of writing, I have them go through their story one “box” at a time. By the way, I love the boxes! It makes the evaluation process so flexible, yet target. Here are just a few ways that I use the boxes:
- Mini-lessons on each box: e.g., Today we are focusing on Content. Take a look at the content box on your marking guide. What are we looking for? What does that look like in a story? Exemplars are great for this. Now look at your story. Focus only on the Content box. Does your story have quality content?
- Have the whole class edit their existing story for one of the boxes one checkbox at a time. Break out your blue crayon for one checkbox, a red for another, and so on. This works especially well when focused on the conventions box.
- Conferencing and goal setting with a student. The boxes really allow you to focus in on one specific area that the student needs to work on to improve his/her writing. I use this along with my writing conference sheets. After reviewing a piece of writing, the student and I will discuss a “next step” goal to improve their writing. I ask them which “box” they think they need to work on most. The process really helps them take ownership for improving their own writing.
- You Mark, then I mark. Finally, I love, love, love, the idea that the students always mark their writing first, before I do. Along with all the checklists, there’s a place for them to assign a mark to their work before I mark it. This gives them the opportunity to evaluate and improve their writing before they come to me with it. It also gives me the opportunity during conferences to point to the checklist and say can you show me where you found examples of this or that in your story?
- As an added bonus I included new story planners in the package. I was so tired of students trying to navigate the “rising outline” story planner, so I re-invented it with kids in mind. The result is below. The kids love it. They are creating much more detailed plans because the spaces direct and focus their thinking. Several students have all told me that they like it better. It’s definitely a keeper in my writing program.
This is just one of the tools I’ll be highlighting from our treasure box over the next few weeks. Do you have ideas for other teacher resources you’d just love to have? Subscribe and shoot me an email about it. It just might become our next fabulous freebie and you’ll get it free! What could be better than that?
Until next keep teaching and “treasuring” our special young people.