Coloring in the Secondary Classroom

Coloring in the Secondary Classroom

You know how excited and giddy you feel when you see a brand new set of colorful markers or colored pencils? I don't know about you, but it always makes my day seeing the rainbow bursts of color. Guess what? Students like them, too. If you don't believe me, set out a set of markers and tell your students they can either write with a pencil or choose a marker. I bet most will go for the colors.

There's something magical about using colored pencils and markers in the classroom that should be shared with our secondary students. It helps increase engagement, stimulates both sides of the brain, and improves memory and retention. Plus, it can be a great reducer of stress AND it's visually appealing.

Here are some ways you can incorporate coloring in your secondary classroom:

If you are lecturing or want students to listen to a podcast or audiobook, allowing them to doodle or color while listening has been proven to prevent daydreaming, increase engagement with the material, and stimulate memory. I've used this strategy with my students while I read aloud and it is extremely effective--they are more attentive listeners and their comprehension improved.

Coloring in the Secondary Classroom Coloring in the Secondary Classroom

I have a wide variety of coloring page packs that can be used throughout the year. Some are related to specific novels or plays, some to specific poems, and some to specific holidays or events. I also offer a pack of literary handouts that can be used with ANY book or story; they offer plenty of room for doodling while students are listening to the story.

Remember that allowing students to partake in these tactile activities IS building brainpower. They are making connections to the material on multiple levels.

A one-pager is an assignment that allows students to fill the page with different literary elements, quotes, and visuals from the story, demonstrating their learning and knowledge. When students write and draw what they've learned, they are recording this information into memory and stimulating both sides of their brain. That's why it's so important to allow students in 1:1 classrooms opportunities for paper-and-pencil writing and doodling.

You can download this FREE one-pager template to use with your students. Use it after you've completed the reading assignment or lecture. Some students will be comfortable using a blank sheet of paper, while others will need more structure in a template. Allow them to choose which is right for them. In my download, there is one template, but my Comic Strip templates also have many layout designs that can work for one-pagers. You can also find plenty of great one-pager examples from our friend, Betsy Potash, author of the Spark Creativity blog and podcast.

If you aren't ready to jump into a one-pager, you can simply add an artistic requirement into exercises you are already assigning. If you ask students to describe a character in writing, ask them also to draw that character (stick figures are OK).

Coloring in the Secondary Classroom

Another way to add an artistic element is to ask students to map out an area from the story or a journey taken by one or more of the characters. Creating a map requires critical thinking and spatial skills, as well as an understanding of the material. It's a wonderful way to assess students' comprehension.

Coloring in the Secondary Classroom - Map it out

Choose an event or part of the setting to have students map. It can even be as simple as asking students to map out a character's bedroom. This activity can be especially effective for those that may not think they are artistic or have drawing skills. 

Let's face it, one of the obstacles keeping you from implementing these activities may be access to materials for your students. If requiring students to have their own coloring utensils isn't an option, you can try the following suggestions:

• Ask the art department or other teachers if you can borrow materials.
• Purchase supplies when they are marked down after the back-to-school rush.
• Buy in bulk from vendors such as Oriental Trading.  
• Try Facebook swap sites and ask if anyone has markers or colored pencils they can donate to your classroom.
• Add materials to your Amazon wish list and post on social media using the hashtag #clearthelists.

I hope these ideas will help you incorporate more art and coloring in your classroom!  

My friend and co-blogger Addie Williams has many Doodle & Write activities that you can easily include in your curriculum. You can check out her Winter Doodle & Write activity here!

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