slice of life · writing

What color do you use for drafting?

I try not to look in my Isabelle’s cubby or desk when I go into her school. That doesn’t mean I haven’t peered into those places. Rather, it means I *try* not to.

I went into Isabelle’s class for writing workshop yesterday. I restrained myself from checking the neatness of her desk when it was time to confer with her. After all, we were talking about her writing, not her organizational skills. However, as Isabelle took me on a tour of her writing, I noticed she was still alternating between colors when she was writing. I’ve bitten my tongue about that before since I didn’t know if the colors corresponded to drafting, revising, and editing pens. However, she was in the first bend of a unit of study on information writing. She’s *only* drafting. Yet, her pages were covered in two — and sometimes three — colors of pen.

“Do you have a blue or black pen?” I asked her, noticing she was writing with a red one.

“I have a blue one, but it doesn’t work right.”

“Can you show me?”

Isabelle rummaged in her desk.

“I can’t find it,” she said.

“Don’t you have supply box?”

“Not in this teacher’s room,” she replied, ducking back down to look for the blue pen.

I looked at my watch. This was a waste of time. This wasn’t what I would have been doing with any other kid. Yet, I was going down the rabbit hole, so-to-speak, because this was my kid. I was about to stop Isabelle when she pulled a retractable pen from her desk.

“Found it!” she said setting it on her desk.

I picked it up and realized it was slightly unscrewed. Problem-partially solved.

I gave Isabelle a spiel about using one color when she was drafting going-forward — blue OR black — and then moved onto something that mattered (i.e., breaking down her new book’s topic into a table of contents).

After I left her school for the day, I made my way to Staples to remedy the supply issue. I picked up a pack of blue pens and a pack of black ones, plus a zip-top supply bag in her favorite color. Later in the day, I typed a reminder note and gave it to her. Isabelle was elated by the bag filled with new pens. I reminded her, again, to only use ONE color while drafting.

This afternoon, when she returned home from school, I asked her how it went with the new pens.

“Great!” she said.

“What color did you use when you drafted today?”


“Only black?” I asked.

“Only black,” she replied.


11 thoughts on “What color do you use for drafting?

  1. Oh… it is a slippery slope my friend – proceed with caution!!! Some days you don’t want to peak in – once in adolescent you don’t know what you might see! Love watching this next phase of Isabelle roll out!!! Look forward to seeing you at NCTE

  2. I was expecting a story about an OT issue! I have several students in my class who are insisting on doing all of their writing in marker. The reasons they use all point to OT troubles that are solved by using the markers (they are fatter, they glide easily without having to be gripped or pressed into the paper, etc.) I probably need to buy some new pens. 🙂

    1. Have you tried Flair pens for those kiddos? Betsy Hubbard got me to try them with Isabelle when she had greater OT needs with penmanship and I’ve been singing their praises ever since.

  3. Isabelle’s desk sounds like my desk (both when I was her age as well as now)! I love the note, new pens, and bag! I could personally spend hours in Staples! It’s probably a good thing that the nearest one is about 40 minutes away!

  4. I enjoyed reading how you were trying to pull back over the pen issue because you wouldn’t be doing it with other students. Our mama hearts sometimes just take us on a different path and we sometimes can’t ignore that. What a lucky writer to have a new bag of supplies!

  5. I have a quote over my desk… I’m doing the best I can right now. I think it applies doubly in this situation. Your Isabelle is your Isabelle, you know better how to coach her because she’s yours. Don’t underestimate the need for kiddos to understand tools, it’s a game changer. Then you were able to shift into providing her with the tools to move forward with more. Cherish these days when you can catch a glimpse and teach into her needs. They are fleeting.

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