August 20, 2011

Color Coordinated Traits! by LaRae Kendrick

Color Connections with Revising & Editing

"At what point in the writing process do you work on correcting & editing?"

After a student has written their rough draft on a big assignment, I ask them to use the first five traits to revise (less than 5 traits for smaller assignments).

My characters, "Our Six Writing Friends," are color-coded and organized by the colors of the rainbow, ROYGBV. To begin the revising process, I ask students to use crayons, pens or digital highlighting and read through their work 5 times.



Examples:
Ideas-Red: Circle sentences that go off topic.

Organization-Orange: Draw an arrow that moves a sentence to a better place.

Voice-Yellow: Highlight a sentence that shows good voice or the author's personality.

Word Choice-Green: Draw a box around words that are used repeatedly.

Sentence Fluency-Blue: Read to a partner and have them mark a sentence that flowed well.

Once they have gone through the revision steps then they can start editing. Conventions-Purple.

Conventions is always checked in 4 separate steps.


  1. Capitalization
  2. Punctuation
  3. Spelling
  4. Grammar



Now they are ready to take the colorful draft and create a clean and polished final draft. "Polished, not Perfect!"

This step-by-step revising is best for assignments that the students have spent a fair amount of time on, usually the types of writing required by the grade-level standards.

For example, my 3rd grade class was required write research reports. When they had already spent up to two weeks researching and writing their first drafts, it made sense to spend extra time revising and editing.


When they were done with their rough draft, they would start with the first color, ideas/red, and read through their paper looking for details that didn't fit. When they were done, they would move on to the next trait/color. Sometimes a student might take one writing period just to check their ideas and organization.

At the beginning of our writing time together, we would review each color and what the students should be looking for. They knew that their peers may be ahead or behind them. Some may even still be writing! No one seemed to mind reading their stories more than once, because they knew they were looking for something new each time.


Sample:

The sample displayed is the appearance paragraph of a rough draft from a report about chameleons. Notice how the student sees that he repeated chameleon, green/word choice, so he changes the second occurrence to "lizard." (This is all resulting from a mini-lesson that was taught before one of the writing periods.)

He also used orange/organization to draw an arrow moving the first sentence about the lizard's skin next to the other sentences about its skin. Again, this is not something that he naturally knew, but that he learned from a mini-lesson.

Because "Our Six Writing Friends" visual aids are color-coded on the bottom, students are quickly able to refer to which color to use.

Whichever visuals you use, I suggest color-coding them for quick reference. It could be as simple as attaching pieces of construction paper to the back.
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LaRae Kendrick, M. Ed., is a native of San Jose, CA who now lives in Gilbert, AZ. She is an experienced writer and educator specializing in language arts education. She was the director of curriculum development for A Plus Educators and has presented teacher workshops on a variety of topics nationwide. LaRae has served as a leader for numerous state and district writing committees and as a former classroom teacher, she understands the need to master state standards while being realistic about life in the classroom. As the author and creator of Our Six Writing Friends™, she is dedicated to the goal of helping all students become better writers. Her areas of expertise are Six Traits Writing, writing assessment, utilizing interactive whiteboards and the writing/technology connection.


LaRae is a teacher’s teacher who energizes and inspires her fellow educators. A participant in one of her professional development sessions recently stated, "Your workshop was so motivating for me… I couldn't even sleep last night because I could not wait to get back in the classroom and start teaching writing. You have inspired me."

Visit LaRae at HelpKidsWrite.com to find out more!

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