Characteristics, Definitions, and Activities for each component, this article is an overview of everything you need to teach and assess student writing with this powerful model. read this article to know everything you need to know for 6 traits of writing.
Successful prose writing can be achieved using the six characteristics of the writing model. This method outlines the components of effective writing for students to practice and teachers to grade, giving both parties the tools they need to analyze written work strategically.
Voice, Ideas, Presentation, Conventions, Organization, Word Choice, and Sentence Fluency are the six writing-related characteristics. In order to help students get familiar with the terms used in writing, it establishes a common vocabulary and norms for teachers to utilize with their classes. From grade level to grade level, it gets more consistent. Successful prose writing can be achieved using the six characteristics of the writing model. This method outlines the components of effective writing for students to practice and teachers to grade, giving both parties the tools they need to analyze written work strategically. When students learn to hone the following writing skills, they can become independent and systematic writers. Learn the six attributes and how to teach them to benefit from this ground-breaking strategy.
According to educational research, all effective writing possesses six essential components known as the Six Traits of Writing: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions. But no matter what grade you teach, as you have probably discovered, developing greater writers can feel daunting. A prefabricated writing curriculum will also never be able to satisfy the individual demands of every student because every classroom contains a diverse group of kids with various levels of writing proficiency. The six writing traits are something in which our team firmly believes. It’s a framework, not a program, that bases each lesson, task, and assessment on the six characteristics of “good” writing.
You’ve come to the right site if you’re looking to learn more about the Six Traits of Writing. We’ve been using the Six Traits to assist educators in becoming stronger writers for more than ten years. You can find recommendations for implementing the Six Traits of Writing in your own classroom along with a thorough review of them in this handbook.
What are the Six Traits of Writing?
The six key characteristics that define high-quality writing are:
- Word Choice
- Sentence Fluency
Please be aware that while this technique is frequently referred to as the 6 + 1 Attribute Model, the additional “presentation” trait is mostly optional because it is the quality of the finished output as a whole rather than the writing itself.
This part of the writing process uses specificity to convey the core idea of a piece. Only information that is helpful and pertinent to the main subject should be presented. Strong writers know when to leave out information that detracts from the message and when to include precisely the perfect amount of depth, thoughts, and details.
How to teach:
- With the students’ eyes closed, recount a story without including any details as part of an activity. Can they visualize it? Introduce the idea that ideas need to be supported in order to be effective and ask them how you can make your story better.
- Ask students to explain what they see in a picture. Allow them to communicate the message of the picture in front of them in partnerships where only one partner can view it at once.
- Ask pupils to write a paragraph that contains as many details as they can. Tell them to select a particular (actual) incident that happened to them and describe it using all of their senses.
This characteristic explains how every thought in a piece of writing must mesh with the overall message. A written piece must have a clear organizational structure, such as chronological order for tales or logical order for informational writing. In order for the reader to follow along with ease, the writer must draw clear connections from one idea to the next. To organize, one needs a sense of progression.
How to Teach
- Cut up a piece of writing and give it to the pupils to piece back together as best they can.
- Students must sort the steps in a list of instructions that have been mixed up.
- Read two brief books with material that have different organizational systems. What distinct aspects of the book’s structure should be brought up with your students?
This characteristic encapsulates each writer’s distinctive style. Voice allows a writer’s personality to come through in a piece without detracting from the genre or subject. Strong authors aren’t scared to show readers their point of view and convey their uniqueness. A good piece of writing reflects its authors.
How to Teach
- After discussing the personalities of a few children’s book authors, have students read a variety of works and try to recognize the author by voice.
- Select some fiction and nonfiction books to compare and contrast the voices in.
- Ask pupils to describe their favorite academic subject in a letter to a grandparent. When they are finished, talk about how they developed their writing style and whether they believe their feelings and thoughts were conveyed in the letter.
The effectiveness of each word in a piece of writing is described by word choice. Strong language informs readers and clarifies concepts, but using too many big or awkward words might muddy the message. Verbose writing is never good writing. Because every word is significant, writers should use few words and only the best ones. A strong vocabulary and linguistic awareness are required for effective writing.
How to Teach
- Maintain a word wall and add to it frequently.
- Show the class a paragraph that is missing some words. Give potential replacements for the missing words and discuss why some of them are preferable to others.
- introduce thesaurus to the kids. By having students first change as many words as they can in a paragraph and then only terms that make sense to replace, you may teach that having a diverse vocabulary is helpful but caution against overdoing it.
This characteristic describes the flow that sentences bring to a piece. Because the words are simple to read, writing in a fluid style is rhythmic and forward-thinking. Correctness and grammar are important, but meaning and variety are even more crucial to sentence flow. The finest writers ensure that every sentence conveys its intended meaning clearly and vary their sentence structures so that no two sentences are alike.
How to Teach
- Write a tale using sentences that all start and end the same way. Discuss the reasons why this is a problem with your class, and enlist their assistance in varying the sentence constructions.
- Rearrange the sentences in a well-known work of literature. Students should correct it and discuss why it’s important for sentences to flow naturally into one another.
- Students should reverse the terms in a sentence from a piece of factual writing. Is it more or less logical? Is their strategy worse or better?
This characteristic focuses on whether an item adheres to the rules of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other conventions. Only correctly formatted writing can be excellent. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills are all mastered by great writers. Conventions are simple to learn but take time and patience to perfect.
How to Teach
- Provide a word for your students to include correctly into a sentence. Start with basic sentence components like subjects and verbs, then gradually increase the difficulty by adding adverbs, adjectives, and other words.
- Encourage your kids to check their peers’ work for accuracy. They don’t have to make every little mistake. Instead, concentrate on one ability at a time (punctuation, capitalization, etc.).
- To teach conventions, use course materials like handouts and mini-lessons.
Our supplementary skill, presentation, is occasionally not expressly taught. The presentation alludes to the text’s aesthetic layout. Briefly put, the presentation can be thought of as how the writing appears on paper. No matter how well-written and vibrant the writing is, someone whose handwriting is unintelligible could still have it rejected. White space must be balanced, neatness, handwriting or font choice, borders, graphics, and overall aesthetic are all rules that must be adhered to.
People who struggle with presenting should look at the verbal and visual portrayals of them in their daily lives. Think about the difference between a billboard that grabs your attention and one that doesn’t. The last time you were in a bookstore, why did you choose one book over another? The presentation of their work is particularly important to technical writers since they use many images and visual aids in addition to their text.
Using This Model in Your Classroom
There is no correct method to start implementing this model in your classroom, but there are many other teachers who can provide guidance and pointers. The 6+1 Trait Writing approach offers some excellent advice from other teachers, according to Education Northwest. Check out what these teachers have to say to you about using the 6+1 Trait Writing methodology; it might well be in your best interest.
You should keep the following in mind if you intend to develop your own writing assignments for your students:
- Try to steer clear of assigning your kids a writing prompt that will necessitate much research on your part. You want your students to be able to incorporate their personal experiences into their work.
- Allow your students to make their own decisions. Open-ended prompts are preferable, but you can also provide your students with a choice of two or three topics so they can write about whatever strikes their fancy. This is especially useful if your pupils need to practice using their voices.
- Avoid using the prompts you develop to coerce your pupils into sharing sensitive information. Even if some pupils don’t mind it, there will inevitably be that one who does, and the parents will almost certainly call.
- Don’t keep your pupils in the dark about the quality of writing you need from them. Make careful to make a clear statement of the prompt’s objective if it has one.
You must be able to monitor how well your students seem to be understanding the ideas behind the 6+1 Trait Model. You will also need to grade their writing, just like you would grade their arithmetic work. However, if the pupil doesn’t understand what is required of them, the score is useless.
Where did the traits come from?
A group of experts was surveyed in the 1960s by a researcher by name of Paul Diederich to determine what makes writing effective. Numerous comments were sent to him, ranging from strong metaphors to correctly placed semicolons. However, Diederich observed that the responses fell into six groups because no one can remember hundreds of things at once.
Vicki Spandel, an authority in literacy, headed a team that followed Diederich’s research in 1984. In the end, six elements were chosen by Spandel, curriculum specialists from the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory, and willing instructors from Missoula, Montana, and Beaverton, Oregon.
Since then, a third official round of research has been carried out. The same six components are still at the heart of “good” writing, as demonstrated by Education Northwest using an even broader range of writing styles, including digital and online writings.
Currently, all 50 of the United States and numerous other nations employ the Six Traits of Writing paradigm.
Six-Traits Professional Development
Most English/language arts textbook publishers are intentional about labeling their resources with the Six-Traits language. But too often, boxed curriculums lack the depth and intentionality that is required in order to fully implement the Six Traits.
In order to know how to launch and execute a fluid Six-Traits model that is responsive to student needs, teachers need the support of ongoing professional development. After all, most teachers didn’t learn how to teach writing in college, making vague guidance from the language arts textbook a recipe for shallow writing instruction.
Using professional development as a catalyst for the building-wide implementation of the Six Traits involves a continuous cycle of professional learning, practice, and collaboration.
Six-Traits Professional Learning
Building a common understanding of the features in all genres and at every developmental stage should be the primary goal of initial professional learning on the Six Traits, in addition to the six terms themselves.
It’s likely that teachers are already using the qualities in some capacity. (Remember that the attributes are features that come naturally to effective writing. Consequently, many of these particular writing skills are already being targeted by teachers. They simply aren’t utilizing the authority and prioritizing that comes from organizing them according to the six terms.)
In light of this, the initial goal of professional learning is to pinpoint the existing writing expertise that instructors currently possess and combine it with the Six-Traits framework. When teachers understand they don’t have to stop doing all they are presently doing, they will feel more at peace.
The next phase is to provide methods for introducing the trait language to pupils after teachers have a basic comprehension of it. The study of tried-and-true methods for the classroom is crucial for educators. This covers how to start an intentional introduction to the Six Traits using characters, picture books, graphic iconography, songs, or a mix of these methods. This prepares students for a yearlong series of writing sessions based on traits and linked to various forms and genres.
Although professional development can take many different forms, the likelihood that the Six-Traits framework will be adopted by all instructors in the building will increase the more frequently and directly teachers learn. There are numerous approaches to involve the entire team in professional learning related to the Six Traits:
- Start off by reading a book that explores the principles of the Six-Traits framework. The books 6+1 Traits of Writing: Primary Grades, 6+1 Traits of Writing: Grades 3 and Up, and 6+1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide For Middle School by Ruth Culham are excellent starters.
- Plan on-site, in-person professional development taught by a knowledgeable Six-Traits practitioner. Staff members can take part in a wide range of learning opportunities, from introducing the Six Traits to the entire staff to mini-lesson modeling in classrooms, with the help of on-site visits by Six-Traits experts.
- Every teacher should be given the opportunity to attend Six-Traits workshops during class time (or during the summer) in order to learn creative ways to introduce and start implementing the Six Traits.
- Engage teams in instructional rounds after teachers have incorporated the Six Traits into their writing lessons, assignments, and assessments. Through this activity, teachers can watch their peers conduct instruction based on character traits and then work together to provide feedback and support.
- Utilize PLC time to assess how the Six Traits are being applied and how this ultimately affects learning. Use professional learning tools to give teachers cutting-edge approaches to tackle particular writing deficiencies as learning gaps are discovered during the academic year.
- Provide educators with continuing support for teacher implementation. This sort of consistent support will enable teachers to achieve the most success with the Six Traits, whether they turn to a highly qualified inside staff member or rely on an outside specialist.
Some Final Advice
Expecting your students to comprehend and act in a way that you yourself do not is unreasonable. The excellent resource provided by Education Northwest enables both teachers and students to hone their abilities for the 6+1 Trait Model. By going through a summary of the characteristics and then selecting a paper to grade, you can practice each of the aforementioned qualities of high-quality writing.
You enter the grade you would assign the essay along with a brief justification for your choice. After pressing “submit,” you may view the grade Education Northwest specialists assigned the work and learn why they made that particular decision. You will have a better grasp of how to use the character and how to demonstrate it to your pupils after reading their comments and the trait summary.
The Six Traits must become a regular part of your writing classroom, regardless of where you are beginning from or how full your toolbox of materials is. Remember that the first step in writing well is realizing that every piece of good writing has concepts, a structure, a voice, word choice, sentence fluidity, and conventions. These six components are used to define, analyze, and describe “good” writing.