June 28, 2010


While surfing on topics related to writing instruction, you've probably encountered the 6 Traits.

These sites have lots of tips about "scoring" writing, which as a parent you may have heard of through your child's teachers. They were originally designed as checklists for state tests, for the scoring committee to rate student papers.

In my opinion, they can get too "busy" and have too much verbiage. These are more useful for district-wide use, and teacher-talk, but if written clearly, can be useful to kids. They provide ladder steps to hold on to while writing a piece, plus a way to "check one's work" when kids think they are done.

These have definitions and examples:



While 6 Trait Rubrics are helpful, I break them down even more, and customize them to each student when needed. For example, I use one with a minimalist student that asks how many "how phrases" they have used in their piece. Another one I have asks if the student has checked each verb to make sure it is the correct tense. I have a checklist for book summaries that has 11 items to score oneself on, such as Did you use a good sentence with the word because in it?

Good writers keep these rubrics inside their mind while writing. Kids need to learn how to think their way through, and ask themselves certain questions while writing.

Am I on track with the prompt? Do I have paragraph breaks at the right places? What do I need to make sure to add? Oh yeah, I am supposed to be supporting my topic sentence, and I got off track.

LD Writers need lots of guidance in clarifying their thinking. They THINK they are writing clearly. Without turning off their creativity faucet, I give them them scoring rubrics (gradient of 1 - 4) or checklists (yes or no) to keep them engaged and reading their own writing with an editor's eye.

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