6 Trait Writing Assessment Presented by: Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations Tell me about 6 Traits. Began in the early 1980’s with teachers and professional writers. Teachers wanted a better way to get accurate, reliable, useable information about student writing. Teachers wanted a shared academic vocabulary about writing How Did It Begin? • Teachers and writers read stacks of essays, sorted them into categories of what they liked, looked for specifics of why they placed the papers into each pile, compiled descriptors and characteristics of good writing. • • 6 Traits emerged! 6 Traits was built upon the Writing process: • • • • • Prewriting (purpose, audience, form, ideas, voice) Drafting Responding Drafting Revising (organization, word choice, sentence fluency) • Drafting • Editing (conventions, presentation) What are the 6 traits? Shared Characteristics of Student Writing • Ideas/Content: details, development, focus • Organization: internal structure • Voice: tone, style, purpose • Word Choice: precise language and phrasing • Sentence Fluency: correctness, rhythm, and cadence • Conventions: mechanical correctness More about 6 Trait Writing • Used by teachers, primary through college • Used by all content teachers • Used by teachers in every US state • Used by teachers in Europe, South America, China, Australia, and the Middle East In the 6 Trait Process we: Focus in on the assessment piece the rubric Model samples of writing - good and bad Read literature focusing on samples of traits to the students Always review rubric of trait you are teaching What’s Really Important? • It’s a common assessment tool (and it’s already done for you.) • Traits are the language we use to help students work more effectively with the revision and editing process. • 6 Trait writing is part of the writing process (in the revision and editing components). Where do you begin? Ideas • The topic is narrow and manageable. • A clear, central theme drives the writing. • Reader’s questions are anticipated & answered. • Lots of showing (specifics) rather than telling (generalities). • Quality of details matters more than quantity--accuracy counts! Key Question about Ideas: Did the writer stay focused and share original and fresh information and perspective about the topic? Student Writing: Strolling past rows and rows of books, I remember how, after the cancer struck, he came less and less and read fewer and fewer books. The books became just part of the scenery, collecting only dust and memories. Voice Reader feels a strong connection to the writer connecting to emotion, energy, conviction. Reader wants to read this piece (or parts of it) aloud to someone else. Voice takes on a different form as the purpose and audience for writing changes. No matter what, without voice, it’s boring! Key Question about Voice: • Would you keep reading this piece if it were longer? MUCH longer? Student Writing: What I wont most is strong verbs. Teachers all say I got weak verbs. I got no strong verbs. I always have a tuff time in school cause of that. I been pushed around and hounded to much about them verbs. Always them verbs! Sentence Fluency Listen for the rhythm and cadence - even if the punctuation is not yet present or correct. Sentences begin in different ways and often end in a noun or verb. Sen Creative and varied use of sentence length and structure. Fragments are deliberate and add style and flair as suited to the topic and audience. Key Question about Sentence Fluency: Can you FEEL the words and phrases flow together as you read it aloud? Student Writing: In my old battered black wallet I carry many things: A letter from a friend, my lunch ticket, my social security card, many other tidbits and items as well. There is one thing, however, which I prize above all my possessions. It’s a photograph. It’s small and the photographer wasn’t great. That doesn’t matter. What matters is the person in the photograph. His name is Brian Sizemore, the love of my life. Word Choice Lively, active verbs are a top priority. Correct words are good - precise words are spectacular! Precision demonstrated in choosing words and phrases to match the purpose for writing. Well-crafted natural language is more effective than the thesaurus overload. Variety and originality over redundancy, jargon and slang. Key Question About Word Choice: Does the variety of words keep the reader interested in wanting to find out the writer’s purpose? Student Writing: • The black asphalt was crumbling off at the sides, and the paint on the court was chipping and wearing out, proof that there wasn’t a day this court didn’t go unused. The hoops were almost opposite. One was older, bent, the backboard slightly cracked, and leaning a hair to the right. Organization Inviting introduction gets you started & allows the writer to drive from there. Thoughtful transitions link key points & ideas. Sequencing is logical, purposeful, and effective. Pacing - speeding up for wide angle/slowing down for close-ups is under control. Conclusion wraps it all up and leaves reader thinking. Key Question about Organization: • Does the organizational structure enhance the ideas and make the writing easier to understand? Student Writing: • Above all, I show my grandfather that I love him and care what happens to him. This is the most important thing to remember when caring for the elderly, especially if you are related to them. They need your love and even if you don’t want to admit it, you need theirs. Conventions Consider All the key components: spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage, and paragraphing (indenting). The text should look clean, edited, polished. Conventions should be under control and enhance the readability. Conventional style guidelines change over time and may vary by topic and audience. Key Question about Conventions: How much editing is needed to make the writing understandable for an outside audience? A whole lot? (Score in the “1-2” range.) A moderate amount? A little of this, a little of that. (Score in the “3” range.) Very little - just a touch-up here or there? (Score in the “4-5” range..) What Do the Rubric Numbers Mean? Score of 5: A very strong and controlled (though not necessarily perfect) performance with respect to the trait at hand. Clearly meets the criteria. Score of 4: A fairly controlled performance with strengths definitely outweighing need for revision. One more draft will make it sing. Score of 3: A balance between strengths and a need for revision on this trait. A good first draft attempt with more work intended. Writer is beginning to take control of the piece. Score of 2: A hint of things to come. Shows promise, but the writer is not in control yet. Need for revision definitely outweighs strengths on this trait. Score of 1: Just a beginning point with great need for revision. Writer is still exploring and not feeling comfortable with the topic yet. May want to start over! The Traits Are Not New: They are simply a convenient way of talking and thinking about writing and have been used by good writers throughout history. What the traits provide is an “academic language” for describing the qualities that most readers think are important in good writing! In Closing: We don’t want the writer to describe every ride at Disneyland or tell us that the Grand Canyon is “awesome”. If one of the rides at Disneyland got stuck or if somebody fell into the Grand Canyon, now that would be worth hearing about! » William Zinsser - “On Writing Well” I always did well on essay tests. Just write everything you know and maybe you’ll hit it. Then you get the paper back from the teacher and she’s written just one word across the entire page, “vague”. I thought vague was kind of vague. I’d write underneath it “unclear,” and send it back. She’d return it to me, “ambiguous.” I’d send it back to her, “cloudy.” We’re still corresponding to this day: “hazy, muddy, murky, foggy…” Jerry Seinfeld • The key to assessment is the word itself. It comes from the Latin verb “assidire” meaning “to sit beside”. We are not ranking here. We are sitting beside a piece of writing and observing its qualities. We are finding a common language to talk about those qualities. • Barry Lane, “Quality in Writing” The End!