Recently my colleague had a brilliant idea during writing workshop, and it grew into this. I am so excited to share! We are currently working on a writing unit focused on expressing opinions. In our district, our kids are required to do this in letter format, and they are meant to be writing opinions about books. With all those specific requirements, we wanted to help the kids to identify these features in their own work. We have been using checklists for years, which has been very helpful. Check out my post all about that for further information.
This year, my friend pulled out her highlighter tape. She initially used it as a part of a minilesson. She was teaching her students that it is important to include a book title in their work, since they were writing about specific books. She used the highlighter tape to show her students where she included the title in her example letter. Of course, the kids all wanted to highlight their work too. And so it began!
I decided to take her brilliance and run with it. When we “published” our pieces for this unit (the kids select favorite pieces, fix them up, and share them with an audience), I got out four colors of highlighter tape. I asked my students to read their pieces to me, and then they had to show me where in their work they had included certain things. In this unit I was looking for: a greeting and closing to the letter, an opinion, evidence to support the opinion, and a book title. As they read, they identified these components and we covered them with highlighter tape (according to a color code system.)
This was a very concrete way to help them reflect on their work. It was also great for letter writing, because it really highlighted (hah!) where certain things show up in letters.
I would not do this for every unit, but it was a great motivator at this time of the year. It was also nice because the kids were not drawing pictures for their letters, so this gave them something else special to do. I think it could even be a great intervention for strugglers or special education students in future units. Hooray!
How do you help your students to reflect on their writing?