A teacher once told me he was able to teach the six writing traits in a week.  I acted impressed, but I wasn't really.  I have to wonder at what cognitive level he was teaching them if he could be done in a week.

In my classroom, the language of the writing traits is the most important academic language I give my students.  Without it, my students' ability to talk about quality writing versus average writing would not exist.  Of all the academic vocabulary I give my students, the traits language is the most important.

Each trait has its own academic vocabulary associated with it.  When you really teach idea development, your students are learning multiple things: relevant details, topic, showing, imagery, main idea, subtopic, etc.  There is no way you could really teach the six writing traits in a week. 

In my classroom, I have a "Trait of the Month" bulletin board.  Once a month it changes, but only after we have had dozens of discussions and mini-lessons focused on that trait.  Even with a month, my students discover they still have much more to learn about how to use/improve upon each writing trait.

I don't ever use conventions as the "Trait of the Month."  Conventions is always in the background when we work on the writing process.

I've decided this year--because SHOWING writing is going to be one of my focuses--that we will use Idea Development as September's Trait, Word Choice as October's Trait, and Voice will be November's Trait; these are the three traits most needed when learning to "Show instead of tell."

Above, you can see my just-hung "Trait of the Month" bulletin board.  It not only features one of trait posters I purchased through Amazon, but it also features the idea development chart from WritingFix's Building with the 6 Traits poster set, and various student samples I found at WritingFix that were strong with their use of idea development skills.  The question at the bottom of the bulletin board asks students to analyze those student samples, looking for specific idea development skills that the writers excelled with.

My classroom copy of "Show; Don't Tell" will be displayed in the near-by chalk tray near the bulletin board for September-November!


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