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!

What’s Up Wednesday

Hello Families,

This week has been packed full of reinforcing our school culture and learning new routines that we will be doing for the rest of the year! However, we finally had time today to get to our class and independent writing time. I may have mentioned before that we will be focusing on 3 types of writing this year in second grade:

  • Narrative Writing (tells a story)
  • Expository Writing (explains something)
  • Persuasive Writing (tries to convince reader that writer’s opinion is correct)

Today, I modeled writing a story about a time when I found a dog (true story!) using my Topic Sentence Starters and Closing Sentence Starters (found in your child’s Take Home Binder). Remember, this is the format we will be using to write in our class this year:

  1. GREEN – GO! Topic Sentence (Grabs the reader’s attention and tells the main idea.)
  2. YELLOW – SLOW DOWN! Big Idea (Give a reason or a fact. Use a transition word.)
  3. RED – STOP! Detail (Give a detail or an example that supports your big idea.)
  4. YELLOW – SLOW DOWN! Big Idea (Give a reason or a fact. Use a transition word.)
  5. RED – STOP! Detail (Give a detail or an example that supports your big idea.)
  6. GREEN – GO BACK! Closing Sentence (Go back and remind the reader of your topic.)

As students advance beyond the 6-sentence paragraph, I would like them to focus first on adding more “reds” or more details. Below is the helpful video that we watched in class today. I will also link additional helpful videos below.

Is your child a “reluctant writer”? The following article explains how the Step Up to Writing “Traffic Light Paragraph” model is simple for students to visualize and use to construct a solid paragraph. While the article explains how to write a 4-sentence paragraph, we will be writing at least 6 sentences for our paragraphs in second grade: “Step Up To Writing: A Tool For The Reluctant Writer”

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