Page |1 6 + 1 TraitsThe 6+1 Traits are a model that shares vocabulary and vision in the qualities of writing: ideas,organization, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. Using the traitsprovides a common language for writing assessment and instruction. The language of the traitsgives us a framework for speaking about and working with texts that students create. Using thetraits can allow teachers to use the assessment to inform and guide instruction.The traits go beyond mechanical correctness in writing and provide a set of criteria of what“good” writing looks like. The traits define essential features of writing. The trait model isgrounded in research and experience. The traits allow the reader and the writer to identifystrengths and weaknesses in the piece of writing as it moves through the writing process. Itallows students to be provided with specific and direct feedback. Because it uses a commonvocabulary for talking about writing and captures the qualities of what “good’ writing looks like,students can become self-evaluators.The writing assessment provides an indication of where a piece of writing is at any givenmoment. The trait scales is not to be used in place of a grading system – letter grades ornumerical grades are not equated to the score of a trait. You do not need to score every traitevery time, you need to only score the traits that you have taught.So what traits do you teach at what grade levels? All of them. All the traits are taught in allgrade all the time. The traits naturally fit within the writing process. The traits are flexible andare to be used as a part of your writing program. Remember, they are an assessment tool thatworks with curriculum to guide instruction. The instructional component is to teach writing,not just the traits. The traits are the common language used to identify effective writing. Thetraits are to be embedded into the writing process. The writing process contains two importantstages – revision and editing. It is within the revision and editing that the traits help us toidentify what needs to work. The traits become the foundation for revision.The traits are divided in two groups; revision traits and editing/publishing traits. Revision needsto be thought of as taking the idea and moving it along. The idea needs to be developed withinteresting and important details, it needs to be organized, have a clear voice that is alignmentwith the audience, and uses specific, interesting words that are used in sentences to capturemeaning. There are specific and concrete things you can do to make student writing betterwhich are done in the revision process. Revision is when we take an idea, shape it, rethink it,
Page |2and move it forward. When we clean up a text, then we edit. Editing is predetermined,correct, and exacting. Revision is individual, creative, complex, and messy. Ideas Word Choice Sentence Fluency Voice Organization Conventions Presentation
Page |3 IDEASIdeas are the heart of the message, the content of the piece and the main theme. It is why youare writing in the first place. What do you want to say? Whats it all about? Thats your IDEA.Together with the details, ideas enrich and develop that theme and draw the reader into thestory.Why do students struggle with IDEAS? 1. Writing is complex. It is hard for students to recognize and identify ideas, select those that are worthy topics for writing, and get those ideas down so readers can understand the content of the piece. 2. Students think faster than they can write. To be effective with IDEAS, students will need to narrow those ideas down into manageable pieces. It is then through elaboration and the use of details their ideas can come to life. 3. Students don’t write for themselves. Writing is always better when it is written for the writer, not the teacher. Students write what they think we want to hear or what will give them a good mark.Qualities of the IDEA Trait The writing has a clear focus The ideas are fresh and original The reader learns something important The writer makes sense The writing includes good, juicy details4 key pieces to working with the IDEA Trait: 1. Selecting an idea (topic) 2. Narrowing the idea (focus) 3. Elaborating on the idea (development) 4. Discovering the best information to cover the idea (details) 1. Selecting and idea: Making old ideas new 1. Brainstorm with students rules they have heard from grown-ups at home. 2. Discuss the reasons for these rules. Announce that these reasons are not necessarily the whole truth. 3. Read The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups.
Page |4 4. Students choose one of the previously brainstormed rules and create their own ‘top secret truth’ to explain the rule using the model in the book. Free Ideas 1. Free writing (What’s on your mind? What are you thinking?) 2. Flashback (look for things that stimulate memories and feelings) 3. Favorite Places (holidays, location) Choral Ideas 1. Jot down interesting tidbits as you encounter them, capture what intrigues you, makes you questions things and wonder about things, and observations that you find interesting. Prompt Ideas 1. Prompted writing ensures students are writing in a variety of genres.2. Narrowing the Idea (focus): 1. RAFTS a. Role (of the writer) b. Audience (for the piece of writing) c. Format (of the material helps to organize idea and use format conventions) d. Topic (or subject of the piece, allows student to zero in on ideas e. Strong Verb (what is the writing purpose … persuade? analyze? create?..)3. Elaborating on the idea (development)4. Discovering the best information (details) a. Show me, just don’t tell me. Take a general statement and rewrite it into one that is more focused, interesting, and detailed. b. Pick a postcard. Gather a set of postcards on a single topic. Give each student a postcard and have them write a descriptive paragraph about the image. Have students read the paragraph then guess the postcard. c. Observe Closely then Write. Have students observe their surroundings in a different setting. They are to record their observations in a chart using their
Page |5 senses. Have students report back what they found interesting, most important, and most unusual.d. Facts About Fairy Tales. Read various versions of fairy tales. Discuss similarities and differences. Point out how these all have the same important key ideas and themes, but are expressed differently through the use of details.
Page |6 ORGANIZATIONOrganization is the internal structure of the piece of writing. Writing that has strongorganization begins with a clear purpose. Connections between ideas are strong and it closeswith a sense of resolution. Structure can be based on compare-contrast, deductive logic, pointby point analysis, chronology or other patterns. It is organization that holds the whole piecetogether. Organization and ideas work hand in hand.Points to remember about ORGANIZATION: An exciting introduction gets the reader started and gives clues about what is to come. Thoughtful transitions link points and ideas. Sequencing should be logical, purposeful, and effective. Pacing – speeding up for wide angle and slowing down for close ups – should be under control. A satisfying conclusion wraps it all up, yet leaves the reader with something to wonder about. Why Students Struggle with Organizing Their Writing 1. Rigid organization is often overvalued. 2. Organization really is hard. There is no right way to organize, but the overall effect of organization should showcase the ideas. 3. One Size Doesn’t Fit All. There is no single program that suits the variety or organizations. We need to teach a variety of structures and provide a variety of experiences for students to try.Teaching ORAGANIZATION Writing the introduction – a lead that hooks the reader. Developing the middle of the paper – logically organized and contains clearly liked details. Writing the conclusion – an ending that leaves the reader satisfied.
Page |7Writing the Introduction 1. Share student leads. 2. Share examples from literatureDeveloping the Middle of the Paper 1. Teach organizational options: space, time, content, perspective 2. Teach transitions: to show location, to compare or contrast, to show time, to conclude or summarize, to add information. 3. Teach sequencing: mix it up, putting it in order, step by step. 4. Teach pacing: ten minutes only, give evidence, outline your story.Writing the Conclusion 1. Look to authors: a profound thought, surprise, quote, question, or open ended statement, tie-up, challenge, summary, literary device, a laughKey Qualities of the ORGANIZATION Trait The writing has a brilliant beginning. The writing has a mighty middle that develops logically The writing concludes with an excellent ending. The details tie together so the writing is easy to follow.