The 6+1 TraitWriting Model Ideas Organization Voice Word Choice Sentence Fluency Conventions Presentation From 6+1 Traits of Writing By, Ruth Culham
Trait #1: IdeasSimply stated, ideas make up the content ofthe writing piece.Strong ideas = Clear overall message/contentStudents struggle with ideas because writingis complex, they think faster than they canwrite, and they often don’t write forthemselves.
Trait #1: IdeasAs teachers, we must help our students…Select an idea (the topic)Narrow the idea (focus)Elaborate on the idea (development)Discover the best information to conveythe main idea (details)
Trait #1: Ideas Some ways to teach the Ideas trait:Free writingFlashbacksFavorite places“Picture This”“String Along”
Trait #2: OrganizationOrganization is the internal structure of thepiece, the thread of central meaning, thepattern of logic.Students struggle with organization becauserigid organization is often overvalued,organization is a difficult thing to achieve, andthere is no single program to solve all of ourorganizational woes.
Trait #2: OrganizationAs teachers, we must help our students with… Writing an introduction—a lead that hooks the reader.Developing the middle of the paper—a corethat is logically organized and containsclearly linked details.Writing the conclusion—an ending thatleaves the reader satisfied.
Trait #2 OrganizationSome ways to teach the Organization trait:Share examples from literatureTeach organizational options: Organize by space Organize by time Organize by content Organize by perspective
Trait #3: VoiceVoice is the writer’s music coming outthrough words, the sense that a real personis speaking to you and cares about themessage.Students struggle with voice because it’snot as concrete as other traits, becausethere is a perception that “boring” is good,because it’s a bit too personal, andbecause many teachers still say that someforms of writing don’t require voice.
Trait #3: VoiceAs teachers, we must remember thatvoice emerges when the writer… Speaks directly to the reader on an emotional level. Experiments with style to match the purpose and audience. Takes risks by revealing the person behind the words.
Trait #3: VoiceSome ways to teach the Voice trait: Share different artists’ recordings of the same song Illustrate the voice trait Compare and contrast (same story, different authors) New Voices, New Choices (5 letters)
Trait #4: Word ChoiceWord choice isn’t just about the use—or misuse—of words. It is about the use of rich, colorful,precise language that both communicates andinspires the reader.Students struggle with word choice because toooften, language is used to exclude, vocabulary isoften taught in isolation, and students tend to get“word drunk.”
Trait #4: Word Choice As teachers, we must teach our students how to use…Striking language: Sharpen studentsdescriptive powersExact language: Using lively verbs, precisenouns, and accurate modifiersNatural language: Making it sound authenticBeautiful language: Choosing colorful wordsand phrases
Trait #4: Word Choice Some ways to teach the Choice trait:Painting a picture with wordsTop Ten List of wordsFinding key words and phrases incaptivating texts
Trait # 5: Sentence Fluency Strong sentence fluency is marked by logic, creative phrasing, parallel construction, alliteration, and word order that makes reading feel natural. Students struggle with sentence fluency because of the overemphasis on correctness, because writing classrooms are too quiet, and because writing good sentences is harder than it looks.
Trait #5: Sentence FluencyAs teachers, we must help our students with… Establishing flow, rhythm, and cadence. Varying sentence length and structure. Constructing sentences that enhance meaning.
Trait #5: Sentence FluencySome ways to teach the Sentence Fluency trait: Reading aloud to yourself Sentence stretching End with a noun “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” Picture your sentence “This sentence is short.”
Trait #6: ConventionsConventions guide the reader through the text,making ideas readable and understandable.Conventions = spelling, punctuation, grammar,capitalization, paragraphing, etc.Students struggle with conventions becausethey don’t see the power of good writingmechanics, and because they aren’tencouraged to take enough risks with theirwriting.
Trait #6: Conventions As teachers we should…Be sure students understand that editing andrevising are different.Expect correctness, but only according toappropriate developmental level and age.Value experimentation right along withcorrectness. It’s a balancing act.Be patient. Learning to use conventions welltakes time.
Trait #6: ConventionsSome ways to teach the Conventions trait: Take it out Error Hunt Conventions Experts Reading Backwards Practice Makes Perfect
Presentation (+1)How the writing looks to the reader.Writing should have a finished look thatshows care.
Presentation (+1)As teachers, we need to encourage the following in our students’ writing:Uniform spacingLegible handwriting; appropriate use of fontsand sizesAppealing use of white space