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Take a fashion-forward approach to outlining with this engaging lesson


Language Arts  


4, 5, 6  

Title – How to Outline: A Fashion-Forward Approach
By – Marcy Winograd
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 4-6 
Topic: Outlining

Standard: Clarify an understanding of texts by creating outlines.

Goal: Students will learn how to outline a text by first outlining their clothing.

Specific Objectives: Using a color-coded method, students will outline the teacher’s attire, then their neighbor’s clothing, and finally a short section in their textbook. Outlines will include at least three main headings and their respective sub-headings.

Materials: green, orange, & red highlighters, crayons, or adhesive dots; textbooks

Anticipatory Set: The teacher says, “I never thought I would be a model, but I’ll give it a try.” The teacher walks down the aisle as though modeling an outfit on a runway. “What do you notice about my clothing?” s/he asks.

Step-By-Step Approach:

      (1) After students comment on the teacher’s outfit, the teacher explains the class will organize the observations in an outline that is color-coded:


      Headings: Green


      Sub-headings: Orange


      Minor details under sub-headings: Red
      (2) Modeling on an overhead, the teacher explains the class will begin with one item of clothing, perhaps a sweater or jacket the teacher is wearing.
      (3) The teacher reviews the Roman Numeral system: (I, II, III, IV, etc.) and explains that her/his sweater will be labeled Roman Numeral I. Each main heading or Roman Numeral will be written in the color green, so the teacher must use a green vis-a-vis pen on the transparency.
      (4) The teacher elicits from students details about the sweater. Using the thumb to indent and an orange vis-a-vis pen, s/he lists the details as A and B, under Roman Numeral I.

      1. Sweater (green pen)
        1. Wool (orange pen)
        2. Button-down (orange pen)


      (5) Next, the teacher asks for descriptions of another clothing item, perhaps her/his shirt. This time more clarifying details are generated, so that the outline looks like this:

      1. Shirt (green pen)
        1. One pocket (orange pen)
          1. On the left (red pen)
          2. Button on the top (red pen)
        2. Collar (orange pen)
          1. Small flap (red pen)
          2. Pointed (red pen)


      (6) After modeling how to outline her/his clothing, the teacher may ask, “Is there a model in the crowd?” When a student volunteers, the teacher invites the student up to the front so that the rest of the class may outline the student’s clothing.
      (7) The teacher may help the class begin the outline, but should let students complete it themselves. Students should use green crayons, highlighters, or dots to label main headings; orange crayons, etc. to identify sub-headings, and red crayons, etc. to label minor details under sub-headings.
      (8) After students complete the outline, they may turn to a neighbor sitting next to them and outline his/her outfit.
      (9) After completing those outlines, students trade papers in cooperative groups to see if they can identify the person whose clothes were described in the outline.
    (10) Finally, the teacher models the same process to outline a few paragraphs from the textbook, which may describe the life of an author or steps in the writing process. A content-area textbook (history or science) may also be used.

Independent Practice: Students outline another passage in their textbook, labeling main ideas, subheadings, and minor details.

Closure: Students do a reflective quick-write: What did you learn about outlining your clothes? How did this help you outline a chapter in your textbook?

Assessment Based On Objective: (4,3,2,1 rubric, 3 meeting the standard of proficiency)

      Students are assessed on how well they outlined their neighbor’s clothing and/or the information in the textbook
      4 – All main ideas and details are accurately outlined, using the appropriate color code and indentations
      3- Most main ideas and details are accurately outlined, using the appropriate color code and indentations
      2 – Some main ideas and details are accurately outlined, using the appropriate color code and indentations
      1- Few, if any, main ideas and details are accurately outlined, using the appropriate color code and indentations

Adaptations: Only outline main ideas and subheadings, not minor details.

Extensions: Provide students with a more complex text structure to outline.

Possible Connections to Other Subjects: Students may color-code outline an outfit worn by a historical figure, then outline the history text.

E-Mail Marcy Winograd !

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