We color-code the paragraph and the essay. The kinesthetic approach to learning is well documented and helps students to master content. We asked one seventh-grade boy why he liked using the colored pens. He said, “They help me remember what kind of thoughts I need to include and where to put them.”
There are many ways to organize the pens. Our preferred approach is to put the pens in the zipper bags for each student. Some teachers number the baggies with a Sharpie and assign each bag to a specific student each class period or block. We leave the bagged sets in a basket by the door and train our students to pick one up each day when they come in and return it to the basket on their way out.
Deborah Louis assigns Materials Managers each cycle. These students not only pick up the zipper bags five minutes before the bell without being told, checking to make sure all pens are accounted for, but also she has them pass out papers, pick up papers, run administrative-type errands, and block the door so no one will interrupt (Just kidding on “blocking the door.” We sure would like to do that sometimes, wouldn’t we?)