What are the Six Traits of Writing?


Educational research is clear. There are
six ingredients to “good” or quality writing. This is true whether we work
with kindergartners communicating in pictures or seniors in AP composition.
The advantage of using the Six-Traits language is that it takes the dozens of
writing skills listed in the standards and on rubrics and in our curriculum and
it organizes them into six simple categories: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and conventions. Hi, I’m Kristina Smekens, President and
Lead Consultant at Smekens Education, and we help teachers build successful
writers with trait-based strategies that are simple and effective. This is huge
for both teachers and students. Teachers need to know the six umbrella
ingredients as they inform their mini-lesson instruction, conference
conversations, assessment feedback, and so much more, and students need to know
these six umbrella ingredients as they are the key to remembering and
integrating all the individual skills into their own drafts. The power in the
Six-Traits framework is the common language that it establishes. Now
teachers and students all know what a “good” one looks like and sounds like, what it includes. These six words take the mystery out of the goal. This common
language starts at the beginning of the school year when we introduce or
reintroduce students to the Six Traits. This includes showing them lots of
mentor texts so that students can see the traits in reading before learning
to incorporate them in their own writing. Then the rest of the year is steeped in
these six ingredients or qualities of good writing. Every mini-lesson is tied
to a specific trait to broaden the skills impact beyond improving this
writing and making it about all writing. Every writer conference includes trait-specific compliments and comments, so now students have clear direction on how to
revise and improve any piece of writing. And all assessment is centered on
relevant traits. Students know the expectations before they begin drafting.
Thousands of teachers have implemented the Six Traits to simplify and reinforce
the qualities of good writing. By using the Six Traits as a framework, you, too,
can employ this simple language to grow writers by bringing clarity and purpose
to your daily writing instruction.

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