This post originally appeared on the blog Coffman’s Creative Classroom.
Starting with the planning process, you help your students understand the topic they are writing about. It’s important to create prior knowledge for our students. As you all know, some students don’t have the prior knowledge important to write what you are asking them to write. Brainstorm together as a large group. Ask questions and spark student-led discussions. You’ll notice they will gain interest in the topic being discussed. Have a notebook handy for your students to keep their ideas. Have a visual for them on an anchor chart or white board. Making sure to set your students up for success from the very beginning is very important. They need to have all the knowledge before we ask them to start writing.
The traffic light paragraph is a guide for your student authors to help them through the writing process. It gives them a clear outline for their writing. Always start with the green light. This is where you teach them about the topic sentence. Choose a topic as an example and start building prior knowledge with discussion and questioning. This is a part of the planning process.
Move to the yellow light, which is the meat and potatoes of their writing, the supporting details. This is a difficult step for most students because they have to come up with details about a topic they may not know a lot about. This is why planning and discussion beforehand is so important. You may need to do more questioning for students to encourage writing. Again, doing a large group writing example is a great idea. Start with an easy topic like recess and have them help you write supporting details.
Once your students have solid supporting details, they can move to the red light. This is where your students will conclude their writing with a concluding sentence. This is where they need to bring their writing back to the main idea. Give them examples on how you would conclude your writing about recess. Make sure they have the tools and knowledge to come up with a sentence on their own.
Publishing is an important step in the writing process. This is what your students have been waiting for the entire time! You can have them develop a pop-up book, poster, interactive piece, or simply write on a colored piece of paper. This step is so important. It shows your students their writing matters and is important.
Cut long strips of green, yellow, and red paper. Use a large piece of construction paper to display their writing. (It does not matter what color.) Have them write their topic sentence on green, details on yellow, and their concluding sentence on red. Have them add art work if there’s time, and there you go! Your students will have a writing piece they can be proud of and will be encouraged to keep writing!
*Disclaimer: Be prepared for your students to want you to cut colored strips for every writing piece they ever do from that point on!
Make sure to check out my Writing a Paragraph Using a Traffic Light resource. Thank you!
Jill Coffman lives in South Bend, Indiana with her husband, Jason, and two boys Jaxon (5) Cadon (3). She has taught for seven years in 3rd grade. She is passionate about making learning engaging for all students. She designs curriculum, chases after her boys, and enjoys family time. If you’re looking for tips or resources, you can reach her at her blog Coffman’s Creative Classroom, Facebook, and her TpT store!