Introducing the 6 Traits

Posted on April 18, 2017
Introducing the 6 Traits

Introducing the 6 Traits

Posted on April 18, 2017

Introducing the 6 Traits

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.


The six researched components of all good writing (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions) need to be introduced to students in a kid-friendly way. Don't be the only one in the classroom who knows what a "good" one is.


Consider setting aside 1-2 writing mini-lessons per trait--that's 6-12 days total. Within these initial lessons, introduce the six terms quickly. Remember this is only an introduction meant to build common vocabulary between you and your students.


Not only do you want to consider the pacing of your introduction, but also the common thread. Introduce all the traits in a consistent manner. For example, read picture books for all or sing songs for all or do an activity for all, etc. The consistency will show students how the traits all work together; they are all part of the same thing.


When thinking of how to introduce the traits to your writers, consider incorporating a building-wide set of visual icons that represent each trait. Not only do students hear the same trait words from year to year, but they see the same graphics. This begins to develop building-wide consistency in implementation and writing expectations.

6 Traits of Writing Smekens Education original icons

The icons appearing here are ones Kristina Smekens selected to correspond with each trait. You can also click here to read a rationale for choosing each icon. If you like these icons, you may download them here for free.

Great teacher question:

I am taking a graduate course and want to focus my class project on the Six Traits writing model. I can't seem to find the research behind the model. Can you help me?

Suzanna Wilson

2010/02/21 at 7:59 PM

Kristina answered:

The research on 6 Traits is being conducted at the Northwest Regional Laboratory (NWREL) in Oregon. Here is a link to their site and the research they have published: http://educationnorthwest.org/traits/research.

GREAT Teacher Comments:

6 Traits of Writing-- 6 Traits Icons

Here's a great 6-Traits idea that came from a hallway bulletin board on display at Washington Township Elementary (East Porter County Schools, Kouts, IN). When students had completed a writing, they each read their pieces to classmates. The peers listened and identified the strongest trait in each one. Then, when it came time to display their work in the hallway, they grouped them according to the traits of strength. What a great idea!

Article originally posted November 17, 2010.