Introducing 6 Traits into Our Writing

Introducing 6 Traits
into Our Writing
Helping to Make Our Writing More
Isn’t reading student
writing fun?
• Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and
Benjamin Franklin were singers of
the Declaration of Independence.
Franklin discovered electricity by
rubbing cats backwards and declared,
“A horse divided against itself cannot
stand alone. Franklin died and is still
What about these gems?
• Miguel Cervantes wrote Donkey Hote. The
next great author was John Milton. Milton
wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died.
And he wrote Paradise Regained.
• Voltaire invented electricity. Gravity was
invented by him. It is chiefly noticeable in
the autumn when the apples are falling off
the trees.
• Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis.
• Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote
the Organ of Species.
• Madman Curie discovered radio.
• Karl Marx became one of the Marx
The Dreaded Writing
• What are the Keys
to Higher Writing
Key to Higher Writing
• Write daily.
• Integrate writing with content areas.
• Require students to do more than one
• Model writing.
• Save student work in portfolio or folder.
• Strive for school-wide continuity of
• Follow a checklist for best practices.
What are the 6 Traits?
What are the 6+1 Traits?
Word Choice
Sentence Fluency
• Start with the ice cream.
• What’s a sundae without the ice cream?
• The main idea or topic sentence is essential
and begins the piece.
• All other “add-ons or toppings” enhance the
ice cream (main idea).
• Hold it all together with the dish.
• The dish (organization) makes the ice cream
(ideas) easier to grasp and prevents it from
“melting away.”
Word Choice
• Something more to go
on that sundae?
• Bananas, candies or
chopped nuts also
enhance the sundae.
• There are many types
of add-ons (word
choice) to compliment
your sundae (main
• Hot fudge, strawberries,
pineapple, enhance the ice
• Toppings add individuality to
the ice cream (main idea).
We don’t all like the same
things on our sundaes, do
• Without toppings, ice cream
is just too blah!
Sentence Fluency
• Will there be
anything else to go
on your sundae?
• How about some
whipped cream to
help the toppings
“flow along?”
Conventions &
• What’s a sundae without a cherry to
“top it off?”
• Polish up your dessert and add the
finishing touch.
• It’s all in the presentation… looks CAN
fool the stomach!
• And now… grab a spoon and enjoy!
Ideas and Content
Classroom Bank or List
Journal Page
Literature Experience
What else?
A Closer Look at
Word Choice
• Use powerful words that paint a
mental picture for the reader.
• Add descriptive adjectives to
enhance nouns.
– The lumpy brown toad hopped quickly
through the squishy gooey mud.
• Verbs should be strong action words.
– The cows stampeded through the field.
– The cows sauntered through the field.
What else?
• Try to use specific, rather than general
– The car zoomed down the street. The 1957
Chevy zoomed down the street.
• Use language that is comfortable, not
“flowery” or “stuffy.”
– I shall not follow you.
• Avoid slang and cliches.
– He was fixin’ to finish his homework.
Let’s Give it a Try!
• The toad ______through the mud..
• The ______ toad ________through the
• The _______ ________ toad
__________ ________ through the
_________ _________ mud.
~ For more ideas, see Connie’s Write On
Sentence Stretchers.
…And There’s More
• Avoid repetition.
– She liked to dance and she liked to
skate and she liked to sing.
• Make sure to use words correctly.
– There driving to they’re house and will
arrive their by noon.
• Unless you are Hemmingway or
Hawthorne, be concise.
Sample Strategies for
Teaching Word Choice
• Use cartoon bubbles.
• Peer edits– circle 5 words
in your partner’s paper
that could be stronger.
• During teacher read-alouds
point out concrete
examples of strong
language. (Toad) Post word
lists around the room. Use
specific parts of speech.
• Encourage use of a
Thesaurus. (How many
words for “blue” are
• Encourage students to use
senses to describe an
object. Use colored
pencils to underline
sensory words.
~ adapted from
Let’s Give it a Try!
Using our common
The old man grumbled a bit as he wiped
his teary eye with the back of his
gnarled hand. He could taste the salt as
he rubbed his parched lips. He glanced
at his silent wife standing a short
distance away. She too was old, but he
still saw in her wrinkled face the pretty
young girl he had married. She still
smelled like freshly mowed spring grass.
Using our common
The old man grumbled a bit as he wiped
his teary eye with the back of his
gnarled hand. He could taste the salt as
he rubbed his parched lips. He glanced
at his silent wife standing a short
distance away. She too was old, but he
still saw in her wrinkled face the pretty
young girl he had married. She still
smelled like freshly mowed spring grass.
Key: sound touch taste sight smell
Making Word Posters
• Tombstone Words
a lot
• Sparkle Words
~Encourage your students to add to the lists.
Teacher Read Alouds for
Teaching Word Choice
• Maniac Magee,
• The BFG, Dahl
• A Wrinkle in Time.
• Anne of Green
• Lizards for Lunch,
• Half a Moon and
One Whole Star,
• Toad, Ruth Brown
Now Let’s Examine
Sentence Fluency
• Let your writing develop an easy flow
or rhythm.
• Aim to make your writing ache to be
read aloud.
– “He moved like a slow-motion instant
replay.” (Christopher Myers)
• Use complete sentences.
– Slept soundly in the crib.
– The baby slept soundly in the crib.
What else should a good
writer do?
• Vary sentence lengths.
– He wore a red shirt. He had on brown
slacks. His jacket was wrinkled.
– He wore a wrinkled jacket over a red
shirt with brown slacks.
• Vary sentence beginnings.
– I like to sing. I like to play
the piano.
– I like to sing. Playing the piano
is my favorite pastime.
Anything else?
• Try different sentence structures.
– The cow jumped over the moon. The dish
ran away with the spoon.
– The cow jumped over the moon. Did you
see the dish run away with that spoon?
What an incredible sight!
Ideas to Teach Sentence
• Read examples of good
fluency and poor fluency.
• Stress to students that
sentences need to flow.
Avoid choppy sentences.
• Make sure students know
the difference between a
phrase and a sentence.
• Have students tell their
story into a tape player.
Writing is a way of
speaking on paper.
How about a little
• Frenchman's Bend was a section of rich river-bottom country
lying twenty miles southeast of Jefferson. Hill-cradled and
remote, definite yet without boundaries, straddling into two
counties and owning allegiance to neither, it had been the
original grant and site of a tremendous pre-Civil War
plantation, the ruins of which —the gutted shell of an
enormous house with its fallen stables and slave quarters and
overgrown gardens and brick terraces and promenades—were
still known as the Old Frenchman's place, although the original
boundaries now existed only on old faded records in the
Chancery Clerk's office in the county courthouse in
Jefferson, and even some of the once-fertile fields had long
since reverted to the cane-and-cypress jungle from which
their first master had hewn them.
~ The Hamlet, William Faulkner
Teacher Read Alouds to
Model Sentence Fluency
• Sarah, Plain and
Tall, MacLachlan
• The Van Gogh
Café, Rylant
• Lion, Witch and
the Wardrobe,
• Stealing Freedom,
Moving on to Voice
• Always write from your heart and
share your feelings with the reader.
• Avoid using “you.”
• Try not to sound like an encyclopedia.
Tell me more….
• Invest yourself in what you write.
Proudly take ownership.
• Connect with your audience.
• Give the reader a glimpse at the
person behind the pen.
Strategies to Teach
• Rewrite a popular story from a different
character’s point of view. (The Real Story of the
Three Little Pigs).
• Read stories with vivid images. Have students
close their eyes and draw what they “see.”
• Read segments of dialogue and have students
guess who is “speaking.” (Charlotte’s Web)
• Do some Author Studies to compare voice. What
is the voice behind Stephen King?
Teacher Read Alouds for
• Bridge to
• Tuck Everlasting,
• Ramona Forever,
• Charlotte’s Web,
• Tales of a 4th
Grade Nothing,
• Treasure Island,
Bringing new voices into
the classroom..
• Solomom had three hundred wives and
seven hundred porcupines.
• Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who
went around giving people advice. They
killed him. Socrates died from an overdose
of wedlock. After that his career suffered
a dramatic decline.
• Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies
and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived
in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of
Sarah is such that inhabitants have to live
For more information:
• Kim’s Korner for
Teacher Talk
• 6 Traits Homepage
• 6 + 1 Trait Writing
• 6 Trait Lesson Plans
A GREAT Site!!

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