Many students on our school’s caseload have a weakness in grammar skills and syntax organization but I never felt that I was adequately addressing their needs by concentrating on parts of speech. Last summer I searched for a new way to work on these syntax goals. I came across a program developed by Alison Bryan of London Speech & Language Therapy called Colourful Semantics (Colorful Semantics here in the states). Instead of teaching students to learn what a noun is or what a verb is you teach them to build a sentence by answering questions.
I introduced this program to two language students, the moderately mentally impaired class, and a general education classroom that consisted of many English Language Learners (ELLs). I asked my students to create a sentence from some picture cards showing students doing different activities in school. I used this initial lesson to get a baseline of how the students were writing. Below is a sample of this initial lesson from one of my students.
After this initial lesson, I knew they needed help organizing their thoughts. The Colorful Semantics program teaches sentence writing in 5 levels which are each color coded for easy recall.
Level 1: Who? (Subject – orange)
Level 2: What Doing? (Verb- yellow)
Level 3: What? (Object – green)
Level 4: Where? (Location – blue)
Level 5: Describe? (Adjective – purple)
Here is a link to a PDF file that explains the steps of how to teach the colorful semantics program. Click here for PDF.
After going through the steps with the students I saw amazing results. Their writing made sense. It didn’t take us long to go through the steps to get to writing sentences. We did not work on level 5 this year but that will come next year. The other two teachers who used the format of writing in their classrooms had the same fantastic results. The teacher that had many ELL students was very pleased that her students could learn writing sentences without understanding what a noun is. As I taught the program to my speech students, I added that the orange would be a noun, the yellow a verb, the green a noun, the blue would start with a preposition, and the purple is an adjective. I was teaching parts of speech just not individually, more as a whole sentence and these are the parts. My students were able to comprehend this format better. Below are some “after” the Colorful Semantic program samples. All of these are from the same student that wrote the initial example. You can see how his sentences progressed. He still has a lot of difficulty with spelling but you can usually make out what he was saying.
This is a sample of his work using the same picture cards from the baseline but after he was taught the Colorful Semantics format. I used sticky tabs to help him recall what the questions were.
Here is another example of his work.
The next picture is of his work while we were working on irregular past tense verbs. He was able to incorporate the Colorful Semantics format into these sentences.
I made these posters for my classroom and the other two incorporating the program to provide visual prompts for the students while they were writing. The speech students that used the program kept a reminder strip in their writing folder in their classroom so they could use the format when they were writing essays. I shared with their teachers what the strips were for and they reinforced the use of the Colorful Semantic strip while they were writing.
I encourage you to explore the links I have provided and see if this program would help your language students. There is an app “Colourful Semantics” available on iTunes by the developer of the program. I have not been fortunate enough to purchase this app yet but it is on my want list. I have used Rainbow Sentences app by Mobile Education which is set up like the colorful semantics program.
Colourful Semantics – London Speech & Language Therapy website
Colourful Semantics app on iTunes
Colourful Semantics activities
Please comment if you have used this program, have any questions, or if you have used something else to address syntax skills.
A lot of psychologists have studied the psychological significance of color preferences. There are many sites on this subject that can be googled. The first one on the Google list if you type in "Psychological Significance of Colors" is "Meaning of Colors in Color Psychology." Many of the people who answered your question have specified that they favor purple. This is an excerpt from what that entry says about purple:
This color relates to the imagination and spirituality. It stimulates the imagination and inspires high ideals. It is an introspective color, allowing us to get in touch with our deeper thoughts.
Most of the people who responded to this question were females. Women seem much more sensitive to colors than men. Also a lot harder to satisfy. Personally I have found that colors bug me. In fairly recent years the clothing merchants have tried to get men more interested in choosing colors, but I have found it frustrating and annoying. If I buy a brown shirt then I can't wear it with a pair of blue pants, so I need a pair of brown pants. But then I can't wear brown pants with a black belt or black shoes. And of course if I wear brown pants I can't have a brown shirt of the same shade or I would like like a deliveryman in uniform; so I have to wear, like, brown pants with a tan shirt, or tan pants with a brown shirt. Women have to have several purses and many pairs of shoes, and it must take them a long time to be sure that everything matches everything else. But I think they like shopping and choosing clothes and even taking things home and bringing them back to the store if they decide they really don't like them.
I don't want to spend any time or mental energy choosing shirt, shoes, pants, jacket, etc., and then have to go through the same thing the next day. I have decided to wear nothing but brown and tan as well as anything that will go with brown and tan, such as shades of red or just plain white. I don't want to think about it. I would like to be able to pull things out of the drawer and the closet and put them on knowing that whatever I had would match.
I read that Alfred Hitchcock owned twelve black suits, twelve white shirts, and several identical black neckties and several identical pairs of black shoes. That sounds pretty extreme, but I can sympathize with him. Any time you see a photograph of him he is sure to be wearing a black suit with a white shirt and a black tie.
Mark Twain decided that he liked a white suit, so he had a tailor make up about a dozen identical white suits, and he is wearing all white in any picture of him you are likely to see.
I have occasionally asked myself what my favorite color is. I still don't know. Green is a good color--for grass and trees. But I would never own a green car, or a purple one.