Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Rainbow Writing

Prudence Mason
Bay District Schools


This lesson teaches students how to revise a draft for organization using a creative visual approach. It is a great lesson for weaning them from simple paragraphs to multi-paragraph stories and essays.


The student revises draft to further develop a piece of writing by adding, deleting, and rearranging ideas and details.


-A sample story, including a graphic organizer, that needs to be edited for organization and content, and separated into paragraphs. (I use a story written on chart paper previously created by the whole class while modeling writing.)
-Another sample story, with errors and a graphic organizer, that has been copied to be handed out to the students.
-Student essays previously written that need to be revised for organization and content
-Chart paper
-Colored markers
-Writing paper


1. Prepare a non-example of a rainbow (see Procedures, Day 1, step 3).
2. For Day 1, be sure to have a sample graphic organizer and story written on chart paper that has some missing ideas, and some ideas out of place according to the sample graphic organizer that you use with it.
3. For Day 2, prepare another sample story, with errors and a graphic organizer, and make multiple copies to be handed out to the students.
4. For Day 3, have on hand essays that students have previously written which need to be revised for organization and content.
5. Gather other materials listed for the activity.


Day 1:
1. Ask the students if they know how to color a rainbow.

2. Explain to them that you have been trying to color a rainbow, but something is just not right about it.

3. Present to them a piece of chart paper with a big scribbled picture that you have made using two different colored markers.

4. Ask them if they can give you some suggestions for improving your rainbow.

5. Write the suggestions on the board as they give them to you. (They will tell you in their own words that the colors need to be separated and arranged in a certain order, and you should have more colors.)

6. Redo your rainbow and say, “Oh, I see. It's kind of like writing!” Go back and mark out the word “colors” in each suggestion, and replace it with “ideas.” Read it back to them.

7. Compare the colors in a rainbow to organization and content of ideas in writing.

8. Discuss how the Rainbow Writing process that you are about to teach them will help them to revise their own writing by helping them to see what needs to be added, deleted or rearranged in order for their writing to shine with organization and ideas.

9. Present to the class a completed graphic organizer such as a web, power umbrella, or story map. (This graphic organizer should go with your sample essay or story that needs to be revised.)

10. Call on students to choose different colors to outline each different section of the graphic organizer.

11. Read aloud to the class the sample story that was written using this graphic organizer.

12. Reread each sentence of the story one at a time and model how to refer back to the graphic organizer and use the process of elimination to decide which section each idea belongs in, and color it accordingly.

13. Discuss each obstacle as it is discovered during this revision process and model writing strategies for overcoming these problems in organization and content. (They take great delight in discovering ideas that don't belong and ideas that are out of place, and even some ideas that are completely missing from the essay.)

14. Be sure to point out that every different color is in a separate paragraph.

15. After color-coding all the sentences, model the process of editing and rewriting the essay in separate paragraphs using transitions.

Day 2:
1. Have them apply the Rainbow Writing process independently to another sample essay with graphic organizer.

2. Compare and discuss the first and second drafts of that essay.

Day 3:
1. Return to each student a copy of an essay previously written that needs to be revised for organization and content.

2. Have them apply the process to this web and their own essays.

3. They should then exchange papers with a partner for peer editing.


Day 1: Assess students' understanding of the process through questions and responses.

Day 2: Formatively assess students' sample papers to see that they have revised their sample essays by adding, deleting, and rearranging sentences and information correctly.

Day 3: Formatively assess students' own papers to see that they have noticeably revised the newest copies by adding, deleting, and rearranging sentences and information.


This lesson can be taught while studying about light in science. The sample graphic organizer and essay could be an expository essay about how rainbows are formed.
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