December 28, 2014

Color Coordinated Traits! by LaRae Kendrick

Color Connections with Revising & Editing

"At what point in the writing process do you work on correcting & editing?"

After a student has written their rough draft on a big assignment, I ask them to use the first five traits to revise (less than 5 traits for smaller assignments).

My characters, "Our Six Writing Friends," are color-coded and organized by the colors of the rainbow, ROYGBV. To begin the revising process, I ask students to use crayons, pens or digital highlighting and read through their work 5 times.



Examples:
Ideas-Red: Circle sentences that go off topic.

Organization-Orange: Draw an arrow that moves a sentence to a better place.

Voice-Yellow: Highlight a sentence that shows good voice or the author's personality.

Word Choice-Green: Draw a box around words that are used repeatedly.

Sentence Fluency-Blue: Read to a partner and have them mark a sentence that flowed well.

Once they have gone through the revision steps then they can start editing. Conventions-Purple.

Conventions is always checked in 4 separate steps.


  1. Capitalization
  2. Punctuation
  3. Spelling
  4. Grammar



Now they are ready to take the colorful draft and create a clean and polished final draft. "Polished, not Perfect!"

This step-by-step revising is best for assignments that the students have spent a fair amount of time on, usually the types of writing required by the grade-level standards.

For example, my 3rd grade class was required write research reports. When they had already spent up to two weeks researching and writing their first drafts, it made sense to spend extra time revising and editing.


When they were done with their rough draft, they would start with the first color, ideas/red, and read through their paper looking for details that didn't fit. When they were done, they would move on to the next trait/color. Sometimes a student might take one writing period just to check their ideas and organization.

At the beginning of our writing time together, we would review each color and what the students should be looking for. They knew that their peers may be ahead or behind them. Some may even still be writing! No one seemed to mind reading their stories more than once, because they knew they were looking for something new each time.


Sample:

The sample displayed is the appearance paragraph of a rough draft from a report about chameleons. Notice how the student sees that he repeated chameleon, green/word choice, so he changes the second occurrence to "lizard." (This is all resulting from a mini-lesson that was taught before one of the writing periods.)

He also used orange/organization to draw an arrow moving the first sentence about the lizard's skin next to the other sentences about its skin. Again, this is not something that he naturally knew, but that he learned from a mini-lesson.

Because "Our Six Writing Friends" visual aids are color-coded on the bottom, students are quickly able to refer to which color to use.

Whichever visuals you use, I suggest color-coding them for quick reference. It could be as simple as attaching pieces of construction paper to the back.
-----------------
LaRae Kendrick, M. Ed., is a native of San Jose, CA who now lives in Gilbert, AZ. She is an experienced writer and educator specializing in language arts education. She was the director of curriculum development for A Plus Educators and has presented teacher workshops on a variety of topics nationwide. LaRae has served as a leader for numerous state and district writing committees and as a former classroom teacher, she understands the need to master state standards while being realistic about life in the classroom. As the author and creator of Our Six Writing Friends™, she is dedicated to the goal of helping all students become better writers. Her areas of expertise are Six Traits Writing, writing assessment, utilizing interactive whiteboards and the writing/technology connection.


LaRae is a teacher’s teacher who energizes and inspires her fellow educators. A participant in one of her professional development sessions recently stated, "Your workshop was so motivating for me… I couldn't even sleep last night because I could not wait to get back in the classroom and start teaching writing. You have inspired me."

Visit LaRae at HelpKidsWrite.com to find out more!

December 21, 2014

Turning Criticisms to 'I" Comments

I am using Spandel's Creating Writers 6 Traits, Process, Workshop, and Literature 6th Edition in my upcoming online class: Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6th Traits.  This is a graduate course offered by the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Part of our time is spent assessing sample papers and writing feedback. I'll use this chart to emphasize the need to convert criticism to "I" comments.






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December 19, 2014

6-Traits and the Common Core

How the Traits relate to Common Core Language.


page 26

Creating Writers 6th Edition, Creating Writers

Clearly students who are taught to assess their own writing using the 6-traits approach will be be doing the kind of thinking, reading and writing promoted by the Common Core Writing Standards.



December 14, 2014

Modes of Writing






"Modes of writing, forms of writing, types of writing, domains of writing. Whatever you want to call them, there are different categories for writing. Each mode has a specific purpose. There are four basic modes, descriptive, narrative, expository, and persuasive. For the intent of this page, I have added a fifth mode for creative writing. These basic modes can then be broken down into subcategories. I have tried to list subcategories here as well, but I am still in the process of collecting them. If you have some ideas or suggestions, please send me an email message." ~ Kim's Korner


December 12, 2014

A Reflective Journal Margaret McKanna

Margaret McKanna
Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6 Traits
Reflective Journal Summary
August 9, 2013

At the heart of Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6 Traits, is a vision of students as assessors of their own writing. This approach is designed to maintain student control at every stage of the writing process. Teachers champion clarity of thought and celebrate the individuality of voice. This approach keeps the writing process whole while also enriching student writing with attention to the 6 Traits.


Teachers trained in 6 Traits writing have a genuine appreciation of student writing at all levels of development. They can clearly identify the qualities of strong writing as they emerge and move toward proficiency. Teachers use the language of the 6 Traits to explore and discuss authentic student writing with students and their parents. This language is used to establish a system of self- monitoring and personal goal setting that strengthen the quality of each trait in student writing. Teachers use the touchstones of the 6 Traits to create their own assessments that will determine what students already know, what they want them to learn and how they will know when students have learned.


Teaching the criteria and language of the 6 Traits to students creates opportunities for young authors to deepen their understanding of what gives writing its clarity and strength. Although the 6 Traits support a unified message, each trait is introduced in a separate lesson. Teachers build an understanding by relating the concepts of a trait in a way that is meaningful and age appropriate. The use of authentic writing samples gives students practice in hearing, identifying and discussing the strength of each trait in context. Mini lessons and strategies help students to identify each trait within their own writing. Teachers model ways to strengthen a specific trait in student writing. Reading aloud helps students to hear each trait in a variety of mentor text.


The practice of students reading their own writing aloud supports the integrity of the writer and ultimately the internal strength of the writing. Students hear their message the way other readers will hear it. They can determine for themselves if the message was accurately delivered. When students read their work aloud to their peers, they invite feedback to determine how the message was received. This focus on the clarity of the message, the way it was delivered and received, lends purpose to the effort of revision.


When teachers listen to students read their writing aloud, they share honest reactions that re-enforce the strengths in the writing while also making suggestions that will move the writing forward. Teachers can help students to hear the way one trait supports another. Sharing the tools of good writing in this context, contributes to writing growth in a way that following the revisions made by teachers does not. Students and teachers work together to define personal writing goals using the language of the 6 Traits.


6 Traits writing is not a formula to follow. It is an approach to writing that demands the full engagement of teachers within the writing process. Teachers must be writers themselves in order to fully appreciate and communicate the essential qualities of each trait. The most effective teachers of 6 Traits writing are seen as writers by their students. They demonstrate the safety of the space by sharing their honest efforts and by inviting student feedback. Teachers make the work of writing visible when they share their ideas aloud and model the thinking behind the decisions they make to support those ideas in their writing. When teachers model revisions of their own work based on student feedback, students realize that all authors must work to improve the organization, sentence fluency and word choices of their writing.   Teachers as writers model self-editing of conventions with regard to clarity of the ideas and integrity of voice or offer their writing to students as a sample for editing practice.


A strong writing program based on the writing process and including the criteria and language of the 6 Traits is the best preparation for success on standardized writing assessments. Students learn to write by writing. When teachers at every grade level build an appreciation of the 6 traits based on the common language of the traits, students deepen their understanding and develop their writing potential at every grade level. The support of student control of the writing process, honors individual voice, develops writer confidence and independence. Students see themselves as writers capable of making choices about their writing based on self-assessment. When teachers promote the integrity of the author, and the strength of written expression, they raise the human capital of their classrooms and prepare students to meet the challenges of outside assessments.


Erik Erickson used the term “generativity” to describe the mid-life choices we make to move forward in new direction, to connect in new ways; the opposite is stagnation. Generativity is a form of renewal based on “creativity in service to the young”. Generativity is a way elders serve not only the young, but also their own well being. As a member of this class, I have learned the importance of listening to the voices of children in their writing and honoring the thoughts they share on paper. I have also learned to trust young authors to control their own writing.  Guidance from that place of integrity will support writing growth at every stage of development. Eight weeks ago, Dennis suggested that I would find this class to be the right place at the right time. This class has generated waves of fresh ideas. More importantly, it has caused me to make meaningful connections to those ideas in a refreshing and invigorating way. I have grown as a writer and teacher as well.

December 10, 2014

Synesthesia, Painting, Poetry, Sentence Fluency, Rhythm with Toby Lurie

Poetry - Painting - Song 

Later in my teaching practice I started writing grants to bring writers and illustrators to my school district. This helped me build a relationship with painter, musician and poet, Toby Lurie: http://www.tobypoet.com.

Toby is an amazing, creative, and unpredictable guy. (The link to his site will introduce you to his work. He shares many QuickTime audio clips of his work that trigger creativity.) It is fun to find him on the Internet after all these years.

I recall meeting him for the first time. Toby was wild white bearded poet with a dangerous gleam in his eye. One look at him and I realized that he was going to draw some lightening.  I was the language arts coordinator for a conservative Nevada school district. I knew Toby was going to make waves and I was glad to aide and abet in a little artistic subversion.  We were at the district's biggest high school.  I'd planned a full school assembly, but an uptight vice principal sand bagged me and side tracked us to a remote spot in the school where they kept the 'tough' kids.

As I was about to introduce Toby to a huge high school class of alternative ed kids.  I didn't have a clue what he was going to do. The rowdy with the bored vibe of caged cats.  I was sure this crowd of edgy and angry high schoolers would tear him apart. 

Just as I introduced Toby, he whispered in my ear, "Tell them I don't speak any English."  I followed his lead and got out of the way.

Toby proceed to emote with sounds and facial gestures and within seconds he captured everyone's attention. He spoke gibberish but it didn't matter. This guy knew how to communicate with sound alone, words were an afterthought. The kids were riveted by the odd man capering and grunting in front of them.

By the end of the assembly everyone was up moving and chanting,  found poetry echoed off the walls and we were all swimming in Toby's unique tone patterns.  Sometimes it's good to be in alternative ed!

To really appreciate Toby's work you need to hear and see him. This new video Synesthesia Part 1 will give you a taste. 


Synesthesia part 1 from Terrence Vaughn on Vimeo.

Choral Reading, Toby Style

Several years later on one of his return visits, Toby taught me a great method that ties perfectly into the concepts of rhythm and sentence fluency. After a writing session, Toby had each student pick a single line from their work. Then he called 6-8 volunteers to come to the front of the room. They lined up shoulder to shoulder and started to read their lines in order from left to right. The first boy read. Then the second. Suddenly Toby would point back to the first and have him repeat the line. Toby would  would mug and gesture and flail his arms all to draw more emotion and voice from the reader.

We soon understood that Toby was conducting a word orchestra.

They began reading their lines louder or lower, deadpan or angry, happy or weeping. Once the whole line had read once, Toby layered together a sound poem based on the melodies of repeated lines and varied voice.

Sometimes Toby had the same student read two or three times in a row or come back to one particularly powerful line repeatedly. No one in the chorus knew when they'd be called on and everyone was amazed at the nuances and lunacies that spilled out of it all.

Toby created a wild reader's theater display of word choice, sentence fluency, voice, organization, and ideas all wrapped in a spontaneously generated poem. It was hilarious, energizing and fun. Everyone loved it.

All of this points to the powerful mix of music, performance, and poetry that supports sentence fluency (and all the other traits as well).

I  used this method myself two or three times a year for the rest of my classroom teaching career. I got so I could conduct a pretty good sound/word poem, but I could never top the Maestro!



Synesthesia part 2 from Terrence Vaughn on Vimeo.


December 7, 2014

Nora Carpon's writing prompt suggestion


Nora Capron, a graduate student in the summer 2012 session of Teaching and Assessing Writing with the Six-Traits posted the following.

With regard to this week's readings, I really liked Donald Murray’s questions to help uncover possible topics on page 172:

What surprised me lately? What’s bugging me? What is changing? What did I expect to happen that didn’t? Why did something make me so mad? What do I keep remembering? What have I learned?

These would be fabulous to use in my Creative Writing class! Sometimes it’s tough for kids to “get the wheels greased” with their basic ideas. I agree with the point Dennis made in his lecture when he said people write best when they write what they know, and I think Murray’s prompts would serve as a very comfortable starting point to get the pens moving. I plan to use these prompts next year in the first few classes when we are generating ideas for our writing.

One idea I have to share is a free writing exercise I recently did as a student in a creative writing course I am taking this summer. The professor passed out a bunch of books to the class. Once each student had a book on his/her desk, the professor instructed us to open our book to a random page, close our eyes, point to a random line of text, read the line, write it at the top of our page and use this as our writing prompt. The sentence at the top of my page was “How embarrassing for him, some stoner overhearing.” Needless to say, this got the creative juices flowing very quickly!

I went from feeling overwhelmed with the pressure of generating a new idea to writing something original that flowed really easily. All I needed was a little inspiration, and it came from a source that I had all around me all the time—books! This exercise was a lot of fun and very useful. I will definitely use this exercise in my own Creative Writing class this year. Has anyone done a similar activity with their students? How would you describe this experience? What variations of this activity could also be done?

December 5, 2014

Reading aloud to model voice by Margaret McKanna


Making great children's literature come alive through highly charged read alouds is a wonderful way to model voice. Read alouds are a gift that broadens language experiences in sentence structure, vocabulary, sense of story and character development, and deepens meaningful connections to literature.

Vicki Spandel is a great advocate for the voices of emergent writers. Drawings are full of voice: the size, color, juxtaposition of people and objects tell the "reader" how students feel about a topic. I also think that story telling and story dictating is a wonderful way to capture voice. Spandel also suggests celebrating the collective voice of a class by writing a whole group story, each student adding a new detail and illustrating a page of the book. These books are placed on classroom shelves with other picture books.

Occasionally, I have the privilege of working 1:1 with students who struggle with print. We have a lot of fun rereading passages with different voices, pretending to be a baby or an old man, someone who is very sleepy, a kid who can't stop laughing or can't stop crying, a very serious adult, or the all-time favorite pretending to be someone from Texas or a country western star.



I know a now retired 2nd grade teacher who did dozens of short plays throughout the year. Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock comes to mind. There are so many great trickster tales with surprise twists, fables that teach lessons and really come alive in a student play.These plays were more Readers Theater than staged play. Students practiced the voices of different characters; they also experienced reading fluency and connections with text.

These literary engagements are a great way to build a sense of voice and the emotions and personalities behind a variety of voices. ~ Margaret

(Based on a discussion reply by Margaret McKanna Summer 2013.)


December 2, 2014

OWLs Online Writing Labs


College and high school writing teachers might want to Online Writing Labs: bookmark these sources! 
owl online writing lab
owl.english.purdue.edu   Purdue's online writing lab is one of the best.




These writing resources carry some extra clout with students since the come from main line colleges. 
Dennis

November 30, 2014

Six Traits Songs



Here's the YouTube playlist for Six Traits Songs. Thanks to Elizabeth Werner & her 4th grade class!

"Elizabeth Werner, 4th grade teacher at Reagan Elementary Elizabeth Werner(Brownsburg, IN), initially used Ruth Culham's 6-Traits songs to introduce the writing traits to her students. But her students wanted something more modern. http://www.smekenseducation.com/6-traits-songs-upgrade.html "

November 29, 2014

Vicky Spandel & Jeff Hicks explain the 6-Traits


From our Facebook page!  6-Traits Resources.

November 16, 2014

Online Class: Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits


EDUC 744 3 ONLINE graduate credits 

100% Online: Enroll Today! 



EDUC 654 Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits Elementary (PK-4)  - 3 graduate credits 

EDUC 653 Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits Middle School-Adult - 3 graduate credits 

Learn to teach and assess writing with the 6-Traits of writing
(voice, ideas, word choice, organization, sentence fluency and conventions). Learn to use the 6-Traits with the writing process to teach revision strategies. Help learners meet higher standards and improve test scores.

What students are saying:

 "I began this course thinking of myself as something of a blank slate with regards to the teaching of writing. I felt that writing was often a hit or miss proposition in my classroom. Today I see that while there are certainly holes in my second grade writing instruction, I'm actually doing more then I thought. I'm not starting from square #1. Today I'm able to categorize and organize what I'm already doing, plus add new things, using the framework of the 6 traits."

"I feel very fortunate to be taking a course like this so early in my teaching career. Someone mentioned to me recently that while there are many great ideas within the 6 trait model, it's easy to slip back into one's old ways of doing things. Perhaps I'm lucky in that I have no old ways to slip back into."

"I've had several important realizations as a result of work we've done these past weeks. The first is the specific connections that I now make between reading and writing. Naturally I was always aware that a connection existed. I knew on some level that reading to my kids was beneficial to their writing development. But too often the reading was undirected and without a plan. Today I have an arsenal of literature with which I can model, discuss, and teach specific traits in a focused way. And I don't have to teach writing alone. I now have the great authors of the world to help me. I can point to a piece of literature and say to my kids, "Take a look at what this author has done. We can do something similar in our own writing."

Your Instructor:

Renee Williams
School of Education
Email: williamsr@uwstout.edu
Office appointment calls available via Skype: renwill11 in Dubai

August 3, 2014

Writing Process / 6-Traits / Web 2.0

Here's my stab at creating a poster that shows the relationships between the writing process, 6-traits, and web 2.0. ~ Dennis

Click here for a much larger version that you can use as a poster. (Warning it's a big file!)

Right click link to open in a new window. Then right click image for download options.

Do you agree with this view? Suggestions? Additions? Questions?

I'm listening! ~ Dennis

Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits (Online Graduate Class).

March 24, 2014

How to Introduce the 6 Traits



This article was originally published by the Writing Teacher, a fine blog that is no longer online.  I retrieved the article using the Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive Project.  Lessons Learned! Always keep a back up copy of your work.  Many thanks to the Internet Archive project for attempting to back up the entire Internet!  This version of the article has been refreshed with additional resources.

Dennis O'Connor teaches online at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and has 42 years of experience as an elementary and middle school teacher, a professional development trainer, and online instructor and designer. As a district Language Arts Coordinator he organized teacher training in the writing process and Traits Writing Model. His online graduate course, Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits has been engaging students via the internet for 16 years. In addition to teaching and consulting, he maintains several invaluable websites:

I have taught 6-traits assessment and writing on the Internet since the turn of the century. Before that I developed a writing workshop with a technology enabled blend of writing process and traits. Most of my students were 7/8 mixed classes in a block schedule. I was fortunate to have the same students two years in a row. The blend of writing process and 6-traits instruction produced remarkable results, in the classroom and on the state mandated writing test. Online, I have shared what I learned in the classroom with hundreds of dedicated teachers as they create writing workshops empowered by 6-traits concepts.

Establishing the writing process as the basis for instruction.

It's always writing process first, then the traits. Traits and the writing process fit together naturally. The writing process provides a path to a young writer. The traits are the touchstones on the path.
The pre-writing phase of the traits is the perfect place to hammer home the importance of Ideas. Help young writers generate ideas with any number of brainstorming techniques. When the right topic and information has been generated, you'll see a writer light up.

Drafting helps the writer apply organization, word choice and sentence fluency to the first rush of ideas and voice.

Responding is enhanced by a traits based vocabulary that sharpens and enhances revision. When students understand the language and criteria of traits, they have a variety of ways into the revision process. Simply checking conventions and making a neat copy gives way to revision based on all the traits.

Multiple response sessions may be needed, since you'll want to limit the response to one trait at a time. Too much feedback will only confuse a writer. It's always better to keep the feedback short and focused on one strength and one area for improvement.

Editing for conventions helps prepare the piece for formal assessment and publication, which ends the writing cycle.

Resources:


Where do I start teaching the 6 Traits?


Introduce traits sequentially:


  • Ideas
  • Voice
  • Word Choice
  • Organization
  • Sentence Fluency
  • Conventions
This order of presentation isn't set in cement. If there is a particular trait you are comfortable with, start there. I start with voice in my online class. Many teachers struggle with this trait, so I make understanding the concept of voice the foundation for the class. However, in a face-to-face, K-12 classroom, the trait of ideas is a logical place to start, as generating ideas is the first step in the writing process.

How much time do I spend teaching the 6-traits?

You can spend the entire year working with the writing process and the 6-traits and never exhaust the possibilities. Of course, you have to adapt your planning to meet the realities of your classroom. That said:
  • Quick overview introduction: 6 short lessons, one for each trait.
  • Introduce one trait at a time.
  • Introduce and teach all of the traits.
  • Go deeper throughout the year. Schedule 2-4 weeks for each trait.
  • Provide rubrics, 6-traits writing guides and checklists.

Rubric Resources:

First teach the concept, then apply the concept as a trait of writing.

Introduce the core concept of a trait separately from writing.
  • What's the voice you see in a painting or hear in music?
  • Can you recognize fluency in a dance?
  • One more good example
A teacher in one of my online classes introduced organization by scattering desks all around her room. Students walk in and suddenly, they're confused. There's no order! Once students experience the connection between chaos and organization, it's time to explain the concept of organization in writing.

A basic pattern for introducing each trait.

Hammer home the trait's criteria with many small focused lessons, followed by a practice writing period.
  • Compare strong and weak writing examples for each trait.
  • Provide ample practice rewriting weak samples into strong samples.
  • Have students score sample papers.
Consider using online databases of practice papers that provide expert feedback. Have students assess samples for a single trait and then check expert feedback. Students need to practice recognizing traits in anonymous samples many times before they are able to independently use the traits to revise their own writing.

After presenting your traits mini-lesson, write with your students. As you write, you will show your students how important writing really is. Revise your weak pieces using a computer or overhead projector. Use a think aloud technique as you revise for a specific trait. This form of modeling is essential to any writing workshop.

Seize Teachable Moments

If a chance to understand another trait presents itself before you formally introduce it, seize the teachable moment! Quickly introduce the new trait in the context of the current trait. If you have an opportunity to show how finding the right idea fires up a writer's voice with confidence and enthusiasm, don't miss it! Say enough about a trait to be appropriate for the moment without getting lost in a tangent. Foreshadowing concepts and vocabulary creates a foundation for the traits concepts to come.

Use 6-Traits Posters

Plaster the walls with traits posters. Keep the concepts and criteria on the walls for ready reference. Sometimes just walking over to the poster and touching it as you talk will set the patter for your students. Soon you will see students glancing at the posters as they work. Constant coaching on the concepts, supported by bullet points on the criteria helps everyone build understanding. Posters that explain the writing process are a good idea as well. Multiple graphics representations of big concepts are always a good idea.

Resources:

Plan to Teach and Re-Teach.

Each time you introduce the concept of a new trait, refer to the previous trait, while mentioning the traits yet to come. Freely use the vocabulary of traits as you present your mini-lessons. Plan to teach and re-teach throughout the year. Combine mini-lessons with ample writing time focus on the trait. When using sample papers or the practice databases available on the web, focus one trait at a time. Here's the practice pattern:
  • Read the story.
  • Write your traits score and a brief rationale for your thinking.
  • Check your score against that of the experts.
Once the new trait is locked in, repeat the process for each trait you have already introduced. This can be done solo or in small groups. Understanding the traits by scoring and discussing multiple samples works for both students and teachers!

Resources:

Traits allow meaningful revision!

The ultimate goal of writing instruction is for students to become assessors of their own writing. 6-Traits provides the vocabulary and the concepts teachers and students need to recognize the entry points for revision. Too often, students think revision is just a matter of fixing the sloppy copy. While conventions are important, there are 5 other, equally important traits to consider while revising during the writing process.

It is best to save intense focus on conventions until the editing phase which happens just before the publishing stage of the writing process. Sadly, many young writers freeze when hit by negative feedback on conventions. Those who don't instantly suffer a case writer's cramp may go into a play it safe shell that destroys voice by limiting word choice to only those words the writer can safely spell. By postponing editing until later in the writing process, the writer has time to practice traits application during an extended respond and revise experience.

Patience and Waiting for Eureka Moments

When you first start, you wonder if a six traits approach will really work. You have to commit a lot of time to teaching and writing. This is difficult in test-driven environments where time is short and success isn't always measured by improved writing ability. However, over the course of the first year you will see significant improvement. It will take faith and patience, but doesn't all teaching?

I recall a eureka moment as I listened to previously inarticulate kids from my toughest class speak eloquently about the ideas and voice being shared by their peers. These middle schoolers, who a few months earlier hated writing, were using traits vocabulary to offer supportive and insightful feedback. It is moments like these teachers never forget. These people were writers helping each other.

Contrast the hushed and focused atmosphere of a writing-process-based classroom full of motivated young writers with the groans, protests, and glassy eyed resentment of kids stuck in a test prep system and you'll understand why fighting to create a writing workshop powered by the traits is worth the effort.

Recommended books on the 6-Traits

PK-4 Creating Young Writers: Using the Six Traits to Enrich Writing Process in Primary Classrooms (2nd Edition) (Creating 6-Trait Revisers and Editors Series) (Paperback) by Vicki Spandel. Allyn & Bacon; 2007


Middle School-Adult EdCreating Writers Through 6-Trait Writing Assessment and Instruction (5th Edition) (Creating 6-Trait Revisers and Editors Series) (Paperback) by Vicki Spandel. Allyn & Bacon, 2008.