Green Dot to Red Dot: Visual Chunking Strategy to Teach Classwork Independence

  • Situation

    One of the students in my Learning Support class requires prompting and reassurance for every problem on his math worksheet.  I want him to complete tasks more independently but he is constantly asking me for help or if his answer is correct.  I can’t work with other students who also need my help with all of these interruptions.  Do you have any suggestions?

  • Summary

    Try using the “Green Dot to Red Dot” strategy to show students where to start a row of math problems, where to stop working on the row and when to raise their hands for teacher attention.

  • Definition

    Some students ask for frequent teacher attention because they are reluctant to make mistakes, they don’t fully understand the assignment and/or they feel the work is too difficult.  The “Green Dot to Red Dot” strategy teaches students to work through small “chunks” of the task independently before raising their hand for the teacher to check their work or assist them.   Initially, the “chunks” should be two to three math problems at a time, allowing the teacher to check for understanding as well as affording the student the attention/affirmation he or she desires on a “fixed” schedule.  Gradually, the number of math problems between the green and red dots is increased until the student is able to start and complete entire worksheets without seeking adult attention.  NOTE:  It’s important to make sure all appropriate adaptations/modifications have already been made to worksheets to increase student success.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17
    • Planning Effort: Low
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    green and red marker

    math worksheet

  • Process

    1. Meet with the student to explain the strategy.  Using a marker, place a green dot at the beginning of a row of math problems.  Tell the student “Green means ‘go’.  This is where you start.”

    2. Using a marker, place a red dot after two to three math problems in the row.  Tell the student “Red means ‘stop’.  Work to the red dot and stop, then raise your hand and I’ll come over to see what you’ve done”.  (Adjust the amount/type of verbal directions you use, depending on the student’s needs.)

    3. Practice this routine with the student several times. Reinforce the student when he or she remembers to raise his/her hand at the red dot, rather than  requesting  attention before completing the specified amount of work.

    4. Gradually increase the number of math problems between the green and red dots until the student is able to start and complete worksheets independently.

    VARIATION:  This same strategy may be used for spelling word practice, vocabulary lists, study guides and reading comprehension questions; practically any academic task!

  • Documents and Related Resources

    green dot to red dot (PDF)


    Example of chunking (Word document)


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