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Six Traits of Writing

Characteristics, Definitions and Activities for Each Component

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Photo © Janelle Cox

Help your students develop good writing skills by implementing the six traits of writing model into your classroom.

What are the Six Traits of Writing?

The six traits of writing have 6 key characteristics that define quality writing, they are:

  • Ideas
  • Organization
  • Voice
  • Word Choice
  • Sentence Fluency
  • Conventions

Definitions of Six Traits

Ideas - This component focuses on the main idea and content of the piece. The writer chooses details that are informative and not necessarily details that the reader already knows. (the grass is green, the sky is blue)

Organization - This trait requires that the piece fits in with the central idea. The organizational structure needs to follow a pattern such as chronological order, comparison/contract or any other logical pattern. The writer needs to make strong connections to keep the readers interest.

Voice - This trait refers to the style of the writer. The voice is where the writer imparts his/her personal tone to the piece while still fitting in with the genre of the piece.

Word Choice - Word choice requires that the writer choose his/her words very carefully. The writer should enlighten the reader by choosing strong words that clarify or expand the idea.

Sentence Fluency - This trait requires that sentences flow naturally and smoothly. Fluent writing has rhythm and is free of awkward word patterns.

Conventions - This trait focuses on the correctness of the piece (spelling, grammar, punctuation).

Teaching Activities

Here you will find a list of objectives, three teaching activities and questions to ask yourself for each six trait component:

 

Ideas

Objective:
  • Awareness of details
  • Knowing what is important
  • A good sense of the main point
Activities:
  • Use photographs during activities and ask students to describe what happened in each photo.
  • Write (science, math) class predictions in a notebook and reflect upon them.
  • Read a poem and have students write about a real life connection that they have to the poem.
Questions to Ask Yourself:

What is my message?
Is my message clear?
Did I include details?

Organization

Objective:
  • Sense of sequence, beginning and ending
  • Ability to organize
Activities:
  • Take a piece of the students writing and cut it into chunks and have the students piece it back together in order.
  • Jumble a list of directions and have the students arrange them in order.
  • Read a few books to the children and use a graphic organizer to compare and contrast them.
Questions to Ask Yourself:

Was the piece I wrote in order?
How does my paper start?
How does my paper end?

Voice

Objective:
  • Individuality
  • Passion
  • Feelings
Activities:
  • Read a variety of children's literature and have students try to identify the author.
  • Compare the voice in fiction and nonfiction books.
  • Have students write a piece about their favorite subject in school. When they are finished have them read their piece to the class and see if the students can identify who wrote the piece.
Questions to Ask Yourself:

Does it sound like me?
Does the reader understand how I feel?
Does my writing shine?

Word Choice

Objective:
  • Awareness of language
  • Awareness of different words
Activities:
  • Keep a word wall
  • Brainstorm a list of words and list the "better word" to use.
  • Make a word spinner and add new words to replace common words.
Questions to Ask Yourself:

Do my words paint a picture?
Do I use words that are appealing?
Is every word that I use important?

Sentence Fluency

Objective:
  • Awareness that the sentence makes sense
  • Rhythm

Activities:
 
  • Write an acrostic poem using the students name.
  • Write a half sentence and have the students complete it.
  • Rewrite popular poems.
Questions to Ask Yourself:

Did my sentences start differently?
Is my paper easy to read aloud?
Did I use complete sentences?

Conventions

Objective:
 
  • Awareness of conventions
  • Patience to look back
  • Experiment with writing
Activities:
 
  • Answer questions in journals with conventional words in response to answering them phonetically.
  • Use peer partners to correct spelling and punctuation.
  • Use mini lessons to teach conventions.
Questions to Ask Yourself:

Did I use a title?
Did I capitalize the correct letters?
Did I check spelling?
 

Source: Education North West

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