They have developed a unique, creative, and seemingly simple method to help students learn to write. Their method uses a color criteria system that relates colors to the basic elements of student writing. Students use one color to shade the thesis/topic/focus element of their composition, while using other colors for each of the following composition elements: transitional phrases, commentary/analysis, and supporting details. The color- shading emphasis enables both the student and teacher to immediately visualize the main elements in their composition. After seeing a few of these colorful compositions, students are better able to organize future compositions.
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The right brain is called on to support the left brain. This color criteria system has been credited by the Waltham school administration with the steady increase English Language Arts MCAS scores to the . The impact was so significant that their color criteria system was adopted school- wide as an instructional approach for all Waltham High students from English Language Learners to special education to honors level students.
They have even met with the English Language Learners on Saturdays. Their system has recently filtered down to grades 6, 5, and 4.
The system works particularly well for under- performing students. To quote one of the nominators, . Patrick and Allison have disseminated their work with the color criteria system to other teachers at statewide conferences.
One of their nominators described Allison and Patrick as.