6+1 writing traits

Everyone knows what a “good” piece of writing looks like and sounds like. We all know if a book hooks us in – or leaves us searching the shelves for the sequel. What we need to teach our students to do, is to identify the things that make this writing “good” and then have them use these strategies in their own writing. That’s basically what the 6+1 traitsare. I will be devoting this page to the traits – not just a post. The Writers’ Notebooks and the 6+1 traits, have reinvented the way I share my passion for writing, with my students. The 6+1 traits are IdeasOrganisationVoiceWord ChoiceSentence fluency;Conventions and Presentation.

 
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THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT THE TRAITS
The important thing about Ideas is the details.
Ideas narrow the topic,
and make the piece original.
They fill it with freshness that brings it to life.
They share knowledge or experience on the topic.
But the important thing about Ideas is the details.

The important thing about Organisation is that
you’d get lost without it.
You couldn’t
cook a meal
write a book
plan a trip or
rule a country without it
it isn’t chaos
but it is a combination of time, space, sequence and ideas,
flowing together to achieve a goal.
The one thing about Organisation is that
You’d get lost without it.

The important thing about Voice
Is that it paints a picture of the writer…
You can’t see her, but she knows you’re there.
You can feel her.
You can experience her magic,
Such passion, so alive,
Heart and soul on paper.
But the important thing about Voice
Is that it paints a picture of the writer.

The important thing about Word Choice
Is that words convey the intended message.
They are the image makers
The idea spinners
The precision strikers
The lure that causes you to linger longer.
But the important thing about Word Choice
Is that words convey the intended message.

The important thing about Sentence Fluency
Is that it makes the writing flow.
A rhythmic river that doesn’t ramble
Singing a special song that swells into a meaningful crescendo,
Not choppy, awkward or unnatural,
It moves like a tender breeze.
The important thing about Sentence Fluency
Is that it makes the writing flow.
The important thing about using Conventions is that
It makes a paper easier to read.
It’s like a signal for your train of thought
It guides the way a paper should sound.
It’s a series of signposts mapping effective communication,
Touch – up paint on an almost finished picture.
But the important thing about using Conventions is that
It makes a paper easier to read.

The important thing about Presentation
Is that it looks GOOD.
You can’t decide whether to read it first
Or set it aside for a treat later.
The margins, fonts, illustration and charts all make the message clear.
When you hold it up, others go “Oooh, Ahh”
You’ve made this piece your own by the way you shared it in finished form
Your handwriting would make your grandmother proud.
But the most important thing about Presentation
Is that it looks GOOD.

(Adapted from Margaret Wise Brown’s – The important book)
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Begin by focusing on one or two traits only. I started with VOICE and WORD CHOICE because I found them particularly easy to identify in sample texts and then in the writing of the students. I started by reading a picture story book called
Ziba came on a boat The voice of author, Liz Lofthouse, is beautifully and easily identified as being sympathetic to the refugees. The choice of language, WORD CHOICE enables us to interpret the author’s voice easily. It is also easy to hear the author’s voice with regard to the personality of Ziba and her parents. Without actually telling us that her father was a kind, doting dad, we are able to ascertain that through him crafting a little doll for Ziba to take with her on the journey. “The important thing about voice is that it paints a picture of the author.” “The important thing about word choice is that it conveys the intended message.”

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