Color coding notes is a great strategy. As a result, color coding helps organize activities, tasks, and resources for students and teachers alike. This skill becomes increasingly important for upper elementary and middle school students. ELA, social studies, and science often include more research, studying, and individual organization. Here are a couple of ways you can use color coded notes to help your students.
Color Coded Research
If your students have access to colored pencils or pens or even thin markers, coloring coding notes is a great way to help organize different information. Think about it: we often ask students to bring in specific colored folders for certain subjects, which helps them stay organized. The same concept can work with note-taking.
Let’s talk biography or famous people research projects which are always very common in elementary classrooms. The number of notes can become overwhelming for students, and many times, organization is not a 5th or 6th grader’s top skill!
Think about color coding each section of their research using a specific color when taking notes. Example: childhood facts are purple, accomplishments are orange, etc. Using different colors allows students to look through their notes when writing a report or creating a poster and easily group notes by topic. Color coded research will make their writing more organized and make grading easier too! Plus, kids of all ages love the rainbow of colors they create on the note sheets or in their notebooks.
If you are looking for some easy-to-implement centers, use short readings and give students a color coded key. This means you give directions telling students what colors they should use to underline certain information. Such as “underline information on the person’s childhood in green” or “find and underline the inventor’s birthday in yellow.”
Color Coded Notes
In upper elementary or middle school classrooms showing students different ways to color code, their study notes can be helpful. As I mentioned before, middle schoolers are not the best at organization, and study habits are pretty close to the top of the “not the best at” list.
Besides spelling tests, middle school is probably close to one of the first times they are told to “study for a test” independently without much teacher assistance or guidance. Many students struggle with this and do not even know where to begin. I mean, can you blame them, though? Independent studying is a skill many of us had to learn during our time as students, and some of us definitely learned the hard way!
Try teaching students how to color code their notes. Using one color for a specific topic can help students easily see the connection between all of their notes. Looking at the causes of the American Revolution in red and the effects in blue is so much easier to study than bouncing back and forth from cause to effect.
Classroom Color Coding System
These tips are for the teachers. Use colors to help organize the materials and resources you will use throughout the year. I have seen teachers buy different colored sticker dots (or make their own) and place them on the front of book bins. Each color represents a different level/genre/etc. Each of the books within that bin has the same sticker on its cover. Color coding book bins help keep your classroom library from looking a hot mess express and make it easier for students to return their books or for you to find specific ones.
Another great way to keep yourself super organized is to use a specific color code for teaching resources. A bin can be color coded pink, and this bin may hold the hands-on materials for the fractions unit. A container with a green sticker has all the maps needed for map skills. No more piling things in cabinets and forgetting where you put them!
Helpful Supplies And Resources
To start color coding with your students. I suggest colored pencils, colored pens, or thin markers. I love flair pens for my own color coding adventures. But, have you seen the price of them!? Buying students’ flair pens are definitely not an option for my wallet. But, using Crayola thin markers or BIC colored pens are more in the budget! You add certain supplies to the supply list at the beginning of the year. Colored pencils work well. But if they get too dull, they get smudgy (is that a word?!) and hard to read.
Suppose you are looking to use color coding for a research project. I definitely suggest some premade readings or good books on different topics. If you are doing a living museum project (another favorite in schools), I have some really great biography packs. Some packs include famous inventors, presidents, and others! Each reading gives important information on each person, and students can learn fun facts and valuable skills from reading and color coding each one.
Color Coding Notes is Benefical and Totally Fun
When students start color coding notes they are learning many beneficial skills. Such as organization, determining the main idea, study habits, and more.
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