Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Grabbing the Attention of Your Writers! #SOL18 #TWTBlog
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Slice of Life: Grabbing the Attention of Your Writers! #SOL18 #TWTBlog

Writers, off you go.  Reread the leads to your chapters and decide if you can revise them to grab the attention of your reader.

The partners set off and immediately begin rereading their writing together.  Teachers listen in and set mentor texts on the tables for students to study and use.  As I make my way around the room, I notice students getting up, going over to a basket, and going back to their seat.  This happens again and again.  Some students even make the journey more than once.  I have to check out the destination …

Gel pens! Lots of them!  Lots of colors!

Now I have to investigate.  I notice a writer using one and ask why he has the pen.

These are revision pens.

You can use them whenever you want?

Whenever we are revising.

You can get up and get one whenever you want?

Whenever we are revising.

You can choose any color you want to use?

Whenever we are revising.

Take a look at how he used the pen to revise his writing:

I can’t stop thinking about this basket of gel pens and the messages it sends to these writers:

1) Agency – Peter Johnson reminds us, “If nothing else, children should leave school with a sense that if they act, and act strategically, they can accomplish their goals” (Choice Words, 29). These students are responsible for getting the tool, and returning it.  They choose when to use one, the color they want and how to revise. It puts them in charge of the process and their learning goals.  Tools are only effective if we help students learn how to effectively and flexibly use them.

2) Movement – Brain research demonstrates the importance of movement on cognitive functioning.  Just look at this infographic:

As kids get up to choose and return pens it is giving them a brain and movement break. “Movement is crucial to every other brain function, including memory, emotion, language, and learning.  Our “higher” brain functions have evolved from movement and still depend on it.” (John J. Ratey, MD  Harvard Medical School)  I know I move all the time when I am writing at home.  I take lots of breaks and even move my spot at least once per hour.  Kids need the same opportunity in classrooms.

3) Fun – Most writers don’t put revision and fun in the same sentence.  Revision is tough work and requires motivation and focus.  My desk has four containers with different types and colors of pens.  I choose different types for different reasons and I always stop to consider which color fits my mood.  Gel pens are engaging tools that real writers use.  When we give our students access to these types of tools we are helping them develop the disposition of a writer.  What writer doesn’t need to be bribed with some cool pens?

This idea is simple, affordable (according to the teacher $20.00 for a pack of 60 – I just found a pack of 60 for $12.99 on Amazon.  These would be great for a wish list this year or to add to your supply list next year.  Thanks to Maura Feeley and Julie Accorsi for sharing this idea with us!





  • Avatar
    Kevin Hodgson
    Posted at 11:23h, 11 December Reply

    A basket of gel pens .. what a great idea. (steal that, he says to himself)

  • Avatar
    Christine Baldiga
    Posted at 12:23h, 11 December Reply

    I have seen teachers offer a specific color pen for editing and another color for revising, but offering a choice? Brilliant! Who doesn’t love choosing a pen color to suit his/her mood? This is such a simple add to every classroom. I too will be stealing the idea!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 02:56h, 12 December Reply

    Just think of how many more kids would WANT to revise if they could use sparkly gel pens? GENIUS!

    (And I adore Kevin’s response!)

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