Smekens Education Solutions, Inc.

6 Traits of Writing

Featured Articles:

Introducing the 6 Traits

Introducing the 6 Traits
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

If you spend some time in the early weeks of school describing what "good" writing includes, then you can curb the number of times you hear Is this good? Am I done? Is this what you want?? from your students. With fewer questions, just think of all that extra time you'll have! [read more...]


Yearlong 6-Traits Bulletin Boards

Yearlong 6-Traits Bulletin Boards
Friday, May 30th, 2008

Here are some of my favorite 6-Traits bulletin board introduction strategies. Thanks to all of you who have sent in new pictures! If you would like to email digital photos of how you have introduced the traits into your environment, we'll post them on our website for all to see. [read more...]


Kristina's Favorite Picture Books for Teaching the 6 Traits

Kristina's Favorite Picture Books for Teaching the 6 Traits
Friday, November 3rd, 2009

Would you like to use picture books to introduce the 6 traits, but you're not quite sure which ones would work best? Here are some of Kristina's favorites for each trait organized by primary and upper grades. Picture books are a great way to showcase the traits. [read more...]


6-Traits Songs Upgrade

6-Traits Songs Upgrade
Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Elizabeth Werner, 4th grade teacher at Reagan Elementary, initially used Ruth Culham's 6-Traits songs to introduce the writing traits to her students. But her students wanted something more modern. Being a musical learner herself, Elizabeth saw the value in meeting her students' learning needs. [read more...]


Seeing the Traits within the Writing Process

Seeing the Traits within the Writing Process
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

To build reading and writing stamina, start small. Set a timer with a 3-minute focused, no-question time of reading or writing. From there, grow the minutes slowly. Let students know if they achieved the goal, missed it, or exceeded it. [read more...]



Additional Articles (organized by date):

Traits Madness

Traits Madness
Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Sugar Creek Consolidated Middle School (West Terre Haute, IN) teacher Rebecca Boehler prepared a series of lessons around March Madness. Displaying the brackets on a hallway bulletin board, Rebecca identified texts to "compete" for which demonstrates the assigned trait best. [read more...]


Find the Trait Mate on TpT

Find the Trait Mate on TpT
Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

We've converted one of our best-selling original products--The Trait Mate: 6-Traits Starter Lessons--to a digital format. The download, now available through Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT), features 20 single-page lesson plans. [read more...]


Plan a Meaningful Writing Time to Follow Each Trait Introduction

Plan a Meaningful Writing Time to Follow Each Trait Introduction
Thursday, October 24th, 2013

QUESTION: I know I should introduce each trait one at a time within six different mini-lessons. But what do the students do during independent writing time on those days? I want them to write something, but I'm not sure what it should be. [read more...]


Educate Parents on the Habits of Strong Writers

Check for Writer Understanding
Thursday, October 24th, 2013

What if you gave your own young writers this same handout (assuming you've been teaching the 6 Traits and using the Smekens Education icons) and asked them to list what they understand each trait to mean? [read more...]


Educate Parents on the Habits of Strong Writers

Teaching Even the Youngest Writers About the 6 Traits
Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Although the "writing" done in kindergarten doesn't look like the writing done in later years, there are still plenty of details (ideas), organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and convention skills to teach to kinders via pictorial writing, list writing, and early sentence writing. [read more...]


Educate Parents on the Habits of Strong Writers

Educate Parents on the Habits of Stronger Writers
Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Consider rolling out the basics of the 6 Traits of Writing for the parents. Utilize any of these printable resources to educate your parents about the key components of literacy during an upcoming parent-teacher conference night, or send them home attached to your next classroom newsletter. [read more...]


Special Education Support for Struggling Writers

Special Education Support for Struggling Writers
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Question: I am a special education teacher and provide writing support in 30-minute blocks, what should I focus on? How do I manage that limited time? Answer: When determining which skills to teach, prioritize them based on what will make the most significant improvement in a student's writing. [read more...]


Mastering the 6 Traits (with a Cheat Sheet!)

Mastering the 6 Traits (with a cheat sheet!)
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Your students won't truly know the 6 Traits of writing until you do. Oh, maybe they'll be able to rattle off the six terms, but do they know the little nuggets that fall under each trait? Do they really understand what that trait includes? Do you? [read more...]


Recognizing the 6 Traits

Recognizing the 6 Traits
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Did you know that you can hear 5 of the 6 traits? A great way to find out if your students are getting the traits is to see if they can recognize them when they hear a piece read aloud. Try having students pick out the strongest trait during sharing time.[read more...]


Integrating the 6 Traits with a New Reading Series

Integrating the 6 Traits with a New Reading Series
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Working with a new reading series challenges even the most seasoned teacher. With so many options and activities in some reading series, teachers try to dabble with everything just to see what works and what doesn't. Here are a couple considerations to ease the overwhelmed teacher. [read more...]


Getting Students to Read for the 6 Traits of Writing

Getting Students to Read for the 6 Traits of Writing
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

I suggested teachers who are overwhelmed with a new reading series could find opportunities to "read like writers." I explained that pointing out evidence of the 6 Traits within the reading is a strategy to keep the 6 Traits alive in your classroom, even if writing time is minimal. [read more...]


Writing Assignments Tied to Literature

Writing Assignments Tied to Literature
Monday, October 25th, 2010

Reading novels and lengthy literature can consume a lot of class time. It's not uncommon that writing becomes less of a focus. Look for opportunities to have students write in different genres as they read. Here are a few writing assignments we've developed using three popular novels. [read more...]


Organizing 6-Traits Titles within the Media Center

Organizing 6-Traits Titles within the Media Center
Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Here is a favorite link of Library Media Specialist Rosalie White at Palos West Elementary. This site is created by folks in La Vilita Library, Texas and includes picture books sorted by their traits of significance. This site goes one step further--it includes call numbers for each of the titles. [read more...]


Test Lady™ Sisters at Smekens Literacy Retreat

Test Lady™ Sisters at Smekens Literacy Retreat
Friday, October 8th, 2010

During the 2010 Smekens Literacy Retreat, Kristina Smekens introduced a Test Lady™ Skit that included members of the Smekens staff portraying the Test Lady™ Sisters. As the Test Lady™ Sisters were introduced during the skit, they walked up a center aisle as if they were models on [read more...]


6-Traits Displays for the Upper Grades

6-Traits Displays for the Upper Grades
Monday, April 19th, 2010

Primary classroom displays for the 6 traits range anywhere from Clifford with six dog dishes to underwater scenes with six different sea creatures representing the traits. When you're working with kindergarten through 3rd, you can get away with almost [read more...]


The

The "+1" of 6+1 Writing
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

One way to offset this burden of final copies is to balance writing assignments. Students don’t need to follow the entire writing process for every piece they begin. Real-life writers do not finish everything they start. In fact, they abandon much of what they begin! Student writers should be [read more...]


Kid-Friendly 6-Traits Reminders

Kid-Friendly 6-Traits Reminders
Monday, April 12th, 2010

Keeping a bulletin board or display of the traits up year-round provides a constant reminder for the classroom environment. But what about when students are working at home? Or when they're peer conferencing in the hallway? They still need to [read more...]


Trait Assessment for Writing

Trait Assessment for Writing
Thursday, April 8th, 2010

If you're using the 6 traits to teach writing, are you also using the traits to assess student writing? When we look at the standardized test writing rubrics, all the traits are there (ideas/content, organization, style word choice, sentence fluency, and [read more...]


Toy Time in Writer's Workshop

Toy Time in Writer's Workshop
Thursday, April 8th, 2010

What do Slinkies, Silly Putty, and a toy train have to do with Writer's Workshop? Everything! Since we know that children (and adults) all learn differently, keying into the visual to pair with our lecturing just makes sense. But even more than that [read more...]


One Way To Improve Student Writing

One Way To Improve Student Writing
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

What is the #1 way to encourage a student to improve his writing? Write a note to tell him what he's doing right! And while you're note writing, wouldn't it be great to reinforce the 6 traits at the same time? You can simply write in the focused trait on a Post-it, or [read more...]


Dissecting Picture Books

Dissecting Picture Books
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

That's what prompted me to create the Trait Trackers. Slipped into the matching books, the bookmark-size Trait Trackers allow teachers to easily find the most important skills from each of the 20 titles included. Rather than reading a picture book aloud and trying [read more...]


Engage More Writers with Highlighter Tape

Engage More Writers with Highlighter Tape
Monday, March 8th, 2010

West Side Middle School (Union City, IN) seventh grade teacher Carla Durham likes to engage her students with fun writing tools in the classroom. One that she has found many uses for is highlighter tape. [read more...]


6-Traits Resources for the Secondary Teacher

6-Traits Resources for the Secondary Teacher
Monday, February 8th, 2010

Ruth Culham has published another 6 1 Traits of Writing book. This one is for the secondary teacher. It includes the same components as the companion books for primary and intermediate grades--and more! It is fabulous! [read more...]


Christmas music ornament

Twelve Days of Christmas, 6-Traits Style
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

To review the 6 Traits with his students and colleagues, Knox Community Elementary School teacher/coach Charles Ratliff revised the lyrics to the famous "12 Days of Christmas" carol. So, instead of a partridge in a pear tree, think of the trait of Ideas! [read more...]


Track Mini-Lessons with Labels

Track Mini-Lessons with Labels
Monday, January 11th, 2010

Storing and organizing your writing mini-lessons within a file box is not a new idea. However, I've developed a new tool to aid your organization further. I've created six oversized labels, one per trait, that would adhere to the front of each of your 6-trait file folders. [read more...]


FAQ: Introducing the 6 Traits

FAQ: Introducing the 6 Traits
Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Q: I know I should introduce each trait one at a time within six different mini-lessons. But what do the students do during independent writing time on those days? I want them to write something, but I'm not sure what it should be. [read more...]


Organizing Your Mini-Lessons

Organizing Your Mini-Lessons
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Most of you have heard me describe my method of organization. I use a hanging file box to store my writing mini-lessons. The light-weight box and handle makes it easily portable. You can take the whole thing from home to school, or you can just grab a single hanging file. [read more...]


Teaching Parents About the 6 Traits

Teaching Parents About the 6 Traits
Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

September, October, and November often include parent nights, open houses, and literacy celebrations. If you are looking to incorporate a 6-Traits focus during this year's parent event, maybe one of the following ideas will be inspiring: [read more...]


Drafting Stronger Literature Responses with the 6 Traits

Drafting Stronger Literature Responses with the 6 Traits
Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Writing about your reading is a typical expectation in middle school writing. But beyond a summary of the reading, language arts teachers often work to develop students' ability to respond to the literature. This might include drawing [read more...]


Using Anchor Papers to Teach 6 Traits

Using Anchor Papers to Teach 6 Traits
Friday, May 30th, 2008

Have you ever tried to shoot a basket without ever seeing the hoop? Imagine doing this every time you write? Of course students will question if they wrote a good one, or if they accomplished what the teacher wanted, or if they are done. If they never see the target, how will they know if they hit it? [read more...]


Understanding the Difference Between Revision and Editing

Understanding the Difference Between Revision and Editing
Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

There is a clear distinction between revising ideas and editing conventions. Revision makes the piece SOUND a whole lot better--which addresses the traits of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, and sentence fluency. Editing makes the piece LOOK better (conventions). [read more...]


Reading
Writing
Content Areas