The Basics of Step Up to Writing

In the year of my teaching residency, I co-taught in a first grade classroom, where I became familiar with teaching writing to young students using a program called “Step Up to Writing”, from where the “Stoplight Paragraph” method originates. With this method, students use colors as visual clues to help them construct a clear, well-written paragraph, with a topic and closing sentence, at least two “big ideas”, and supporting details. I have learned this this fun, colorful method can be used with all types of writing we learn in second grade: narrative (stories), expository (information), and persuasive (opinion).

  • GREEN: Go! Topic Sentence.
    • YELLOW: Slow down! Big idea.
      • RED: Stop! Give a supporting detail.
    • YELLOW: Slow down! Big idea.
      • RED: Stop! Give a supporting detail.
  • GREEN: Go back! Remind the reader of your main idea.

The video below may help parents to gain a better idea of what all of these words and colors mean!

Breaking Apart Numbers to Subtract

This week in math, we are learning how to break apart numbers to subtract. To assist my students in doing this, I’ve uploaded a “120 chart” on my website. Students may use this as a visual aide to assist them with doing breaking apart numbers to subtract and, eventually, my hope is that students will be able to visualize this chart in their head, so that they may solve problems that may seem complicated using only “mental math”.


Using the 120 chart to solve a problem like “50 – 37 = ?” my students are expected to know how to:

  1. Break apart 37 into 7 ones and 3 tens
  2. Find 50 on the hundred chart and point to it
  3. “Jump back” 3 tens and 7 ones
  4. Land on the number 13, which is the correct answer to the problem “50 – 37 = ?”

Please find the 120 chart here: or in the right column on my website, under “Take Home Binder”.