My students LOVE to take ownership in their work and they LOVE hands on craftivities. So, I decided to morph these two things into making something my students desperately need and will benefit from:
a Writer's Toolbox!
As a special education resource teacher, I pull my kids at various times throughout the day for small group instruction in core content areas. Writing is a constant struggle for my kiddos. Some of my little friends just can't seem to remember all of the habits "good writers do". Capitalization. Punctuation. Sounding out words. Rereading for accuracy. Making edits. It's easy to get overloaded with the demands of writing, even more so when you already experience academic challenges that impede on your ability as a writer. I figured what my students needed was a good visual to refer to throughout the year. Something constant, easy to understand, and easy to use. Even better that they make it themselves. I've found that when students take ownership in something, they are more excited and motivated to want to use it.
We constructed this craftivity step-by-step as a small group, which challenged a few of my kiddos "following directions" goals on their IEP (hey, the more practice the better, right?). The ENTIRE time we constructed their toolboxes, my kids kept saying, "This is a fun day, this is so cool!" (As if our writing time isn't fun EVERY day?!) They were so EXCITED about this simple little writing tool that they got to make and keep for the rest of the year!
To make the "toolbox" itself, all you'll need is a brown paper bag, a pipe cleaner, and the labels (which you can find FREE in my TpT store!). Your FREE download includes directions for assembly, as well as two versions of the cover label and two versions of the "Writer's Checklist" inside. I laminated the "Writer's Checklist" before affixing on the inside, so that my students can use a dry erase marker when editing their writing using the checklist.
Since making these nifty little toolboxes, my students come in every day and retrieve them from their cubby (on their own), excited to edit their work (for the first time ever!). Before, I felt like I was always harping "go back, make sure you've done this, this, and this like we've talked about"... for which I'd be met with blank stares and a simple "I did". Now, with a visual to break down expectations into manageable tasks to check for, thus drawing their attention to the mechanical and structural mistakes they so commonly rushed and overlooked, those harping reminders aren't even needed... which means I've got more self-sufficient learners on my hands and they have a (slightly) less nagging teacher on theirs (bonus score!).