Yearlong 6-Traits Bulletin Boards
Teachers have been introducing the trait language to students in a variety of ways. Here are some of our favorite 6-Traits 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. (Our email addresses are in our Contact Us section of our website.) Click on some of the photos below for a larger view of the bulletin board.
Fifth grade teacher Jenny Hanneman has a team/sports theme for her classroom at Holy Family Catholic School (Jasper, IN). Hovering above her yearlong 6-Traits bulletin board is a poster encouraging her students to "slam dunk their writing." As she introduced traits, the basketball goals went up. As she teaches additional mini-lesson skills, she includes basketballs for each key element. Jenny said her students refer to the board as they write, and they love the basketball theme. (NOTE: She also uses dry erase boards to help her students through the stages of the writing process. Students keep track of what stage they're on by writing their names on the corresponding dry erase boards.)
Branching out for Good Writing
Jenna Hochmeister, fourth grade teacher at Holy Family School (Jasper, IN), shared her 6-Traits bulletin board via Smekens Education Facebook page. Jenna starts out with a bare tree with a branch for each of the 6 Traits. She places leaves on the branches for the skills she covers through trait-based mini-lessons. She continues to add leaves throughout the year. The tree is a great visual for the kids, but it also acts as a way for Jenna to refer to the traits in her everyday teaching. In addition to acting as a log of her trait-based mini-lessons, her bulletin board doubles as a management system. Notice the dry-erase boards under the tree on the left. Jenna has her students communicate what stage of the writing process they're at each day (e.g., pre-writing, drafting, revising, ready to proofread with the teacher, publishing). This is an efficient way to get a status check of individuals within the class.
Park Elementary (Fairmount, IN) has a school-wide focus on the 6 Traits of writing. They are not only teaching their students about the six researched ingredients within "good" writing but also educating their students' parents as well. As part of their plan, Megan McAdams (resource teacher) created this bulletin board outside the elementary main office. Check out the skills listed on the trait eggs. Knowing this is a school-wide bulletin board, I love that that they included writing skills that are relevant to young kindergarten writers and other skills that will challenge the strong intermediate writers. This honors that the common language of the 6 Traits can be applied to all grades and all students.
Spotting Good Writing
Second graders at Thomas Jefferson Elementary (Valparaiso, IN) are on the lookout to spot good writing. I love the slick, laminated poster idea. Heather Wells, their teacher, adds skills to each trait with a write-on/wipe-off marker and then erases them for the next school year. Genius!
Jenn Will, 4th grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary (Valparaiso, IN), embraced a magic theme. Each magician's hat is a trait, and then she slowly adds wands throughout the year. She writes the skills on the wands (a.k.a. gray strips of construction paper). Take note of her stash of ready-to-go wands in the bottom left of the photo.
Good Writing is a Picnic
Second-grade teacher Susan Thomas sets up a "picnic" full of the 6 Traits and adds key writing skills to each trait plate as she presents the skills in mini-lessons. The picnic motif complements the school-wide "Garden of Learning" theme at Protsman Elementary (Dyer, IN).
"Signs" of Good Writing
Holly Jones, third grade teacher at Protsman Elementary (Dyer, IN), created a 3D traits bulletin board adding artificial grass to her large moose artwork. Playing off the "sign” theme throughout her room, she posted the 6-Traits signs and then added the key writing skills the students were learning under each one. Take note of another genius idea Holly demonstrates—she has laminated each sign and written with write-on/wipe-off markers so she can build the same bulletin board with her third grades next year and reuse the same posters. Love it!
6-Trait Icons "Hanging Around"
Maywood Elementary (Hammond, IN) teacher Ray Liskey introduces the 6-Trait icons with triggers hanging from the ceiling. With limited bulletin board space, this is how Ray was able to bring the traits into his environment.
Flint Lake Elementary (Valparaiso, IN) teacher Cindy Douthett used the "crayon” theme to build her 6-Traits bulletin board. As she introduced a trait with a simple definition, the Smekens icon, and a picture book, she grew her bulletin board with her second graders. Now with the traits introduced, Cindy plans to teach mini-lessons to hone their trait understanding. As she does, she will staple the paper "crayons” (see the crayon box in the top left of photo) to label the traits with each writing skill. The students will not only learn individual writing skills, but they will know the significant skills that fall under each trait, too. Fabulous, Cindy! Thanks for sharing.
Cindy Summers begins the year by placing the large gears on the bulletin board as she introduces and discusses each trait with her sixth graders at Riley Elementary (New Castle, IN). This concept helps her explain that the gears work smoothly together. Using all 6 Traits, the students’ writing pieces will be well written, flow smoothly, and be interesting. The smaller gears are added as she discusses key skills within each of the traits throughout the year. NOTE: Cindy’s students help her come up with wording for the smaller skills (smaller gears). She wants it to be as kid-friendly as possible. Excellent concept, Cindy!
North Side Intermediate School (Anderson, IN) teacher Bethany Rielage created her first 6-Traits bulletin board this fall. Appealing to her fifth grade students, she played off the popular word "sweet." After adding each trait cone, the students really got excited when she started adding ice cream scoops to the cones! What a fabulous visual, Bethany!
Rock Star Writing
Playing on her Ridge Lawn Elementary (Chicago Ridge, IL) students’ love of music, fifth grade teacher Amy Becker created a "Rock Star Writing” 6-Traits bulletin board. As she teaches specific writing skills via mini-lessons, she adds music notes coordinating with each trait guitar. Love it!!
Writing By Leaps and Bounds
Wanting to play off her classroom’s nature theme, first grade teacher Kathy Stoner decided to utilize frogs and bring in real cattails for her 6-Traits bulletin board. She titled it Writing By Leaps and Bounds. As she makes connections to each trait, Kathy attaches a picture of the book cover, trait song, sign, or a symbol with a bug that might be found at the pond--dragonflies, butterflies, bees, etc. Her Deputy Elementary School (Deputy, IN) students have been excited about the bulletin board and love when they learn a new skill to post on it.
West Vigo Middle School (Terre Haute, IN) teacher Melanie Beaver utilized a shelf to display her 6 Traits with backpacks and objects to visually remind students of the significant lessons and skills.
Here are pictures of each trait backpack on her shelf. The artifacts that represent each are pictured with each backpack. As Barb introduces each trait, she adds a pencil with another tip for that trait.
Now that the year is ending, Barb has removed all the pencils from each backpack (4 each). She will mix them up on the board to see if the students can decide which writing tip goes with which trait. Later, she will place all artifacts on a table in the center of the room to see if they can sort them accordingly. What a great way to assess!
To stay organized when the school year is over, all the artifacts fit nicely INSIDE each backpack for easy storage. Love it!!!
By the way, these backpacks are really LUNCHBOXES from WalMart. Barb bought them a month into the school year, when all the school supplies were on clearance. (So she got each backpack for only $4! They were $8 originally.)
The presentation trait is in a different location in the room and she doesn't use a backpack with it. She likes to keep it separate. Its artifact, of course, is the picture frame...but she also includes a little wrapped present as a 'presentation' artifact.
Deputy Elementary School (Deputy, IN) kindergarten teacher Jennifer Amburgey created a 6-Traits bulletin board theme of Our Writing is Cruising Along! Every facet of her board has purpose. Check this out:
She displays signs on the bulletin board to remind students that signs reveal information, which is an Indiana standard in reading.
The different style cars each represent a different trait in writing. All of one car style goes under each different trait and targets a single writing skill per mini-lesson. The focus skill is written on the side of the car like an advertisement you might see on the side of a bus.
The brown signs are street signs that direct us where to go…these are the TRAITS with icons.
She ties it all together with familiar sightings while we drive in traffic, such as a book cover from the initial mini-lesson. The book that introduces the mini-lesson represents a billboard sign with a catchy phrase along a roadway.
Jennifer refers to "traffic” as the author’s words in the story. The students learn to use the cars to "cruise” through the "traffic” creatively and write their own stories.
"Journey" Through the Traits
Kimberly Bassett began introducing all the writing traits (including presentation) by providing a simple trait definition, reading a literature book that emphasized the trait, and teaching students the 6-Trait song. (She said her kindergarten students LOVED the songs! They incorporated body movements and hand gestures for each song, too. The students loved them so much they planned a "performance” of the trait songs for other classrooms and their administrators at St. Joseph Grade School in South Bend, IN. Too cute!)
When considering her bulletin board theme, Kimberly played off the school-wide theme. The back-to-school theme this fall was "journey.” Mirroring that concept, she started her "Journey Through the Traits” bulletin board. Promoting the traits with words and pictures, Kim has incorporated the trait icons into each trait lesson and continually references them during the Writing Workshop. Her plan is to continue adding specific writing skills to each trait on the bulletin board throughout the school year.
Kim recently shared some updated photos of her bulletin board. She said it's always "in process."
Using her William Tell Elementary (Tell City, IN) classroom theme " We Are a Team,” second grade teacher Sarah Miller wanted to build a year-long 6-Traits display with a similar concept. She came up with "Team Traits.” The kids look forward to learning each new trait song and seeing the newest "trait” team member added to the cabinet. In addition, Sarah is capitalizing on the picture-book read alouds she conducts by adding a photocopy of each book cover to the display, too.After several specific lessons within the traits of Ideas and then Organization, the students reviewed what they thought was most important. Those skills were written on the cut-outs and surround each trait.
On the first day of school, Bright Elementary First Grade Teacher Linda Dieters' bulletin board included only the blue paper, the picture of Clifford, and the title "Clifford is hungry for good writing." Each day, as Linda introduced her young writers to a writing trait, she added a dog bowl. And as she continues to work on individual writing skills all year long, she adds "bones" to the bowls, indicating to students which trait that particular skill improves.
Picture Book Covers
Introducing the traits to primary students can be a little more difficult. Your trait bulletin board may need to be more visual, and a little less text heavy for these early readers. First grade teachers Kelly McFarland and Sarah Kelty at Fuqua Elementary in Terre Haute, IN recognize this. Consequently their bulletin board is simply a record of the picture books they are reading aloud that exemplify different traits. The students first learned to HEAR the traits in their reading before targeting them intentionally within their writing. Great idea, ladies!
Keep it Simple!
Keeping her bulletin board simple, Smith Elementary (Martinsville, IN) fifth grade teacher Rachel Crabb used the visual icons and then added a small poster of related information as she introduced each trait. Throughout the year, she plans to add small "pencils” noting the ingredients to each trait they cover. See an up-close example for the trait of word choice.
Love the colorful nature of this simple trait bulletin board! Barb Mahnesmith, fifth grade teacher at Smoky Row Elementary (Carmel, IN) printed the mini trait posters. (Download from our website.) She adhered each icon to colored cardstock and then laminated them. When she first introduced each trait, she did so by defining the trait, revealing the icon, teaching the students the trait song, sharing a writing sample, and building a simple rubric. What a thorough introduction, Barb! Now, as the year progresses, she intends to continue adding key mini-lesson skills that coordinate with each trait. Barb has also planned ahead for future years. Every skill she adds to the board is already adhered to colored card stock and laminated. She has them all created and keeps them stored in Ziploc baggies. Consequently, at the end of this year, Barb can simply remove the trait skills from the wall, return them all to their baggies, and then reveal them one at a time next school year. Genius!
What Makes Your Writing Blossom?
St. Philip Lutheran School (Chicago, IL) fifth grade teacher Abby Brass tried a 6-Traits thematic bulletin board for the first time in 2009. She loved it so much she is repeating the theme this Fall of 2010. What Makes Your Writing Blossom? is a plant theme! The photos on the black background reveal how she added picture book covers, excerpts, and key writing skills to each trait all year long. Planning to repeat that process this year on a blue background, Abby is ready to begin introducing one trait at a time, one flower pot at a time.
What a hilarious title! So creative! The writers in Christina Butts’ fourth/fifth grade classroom at Highland Terrace Elementary are introduced to the 6-Traits via a sea-creature theme. As she slowly adds bubbles above each creature, the students learned the qualities of each trait. AWESOME!
Melissa Gannon revived an original idea from teacher Christina Butts (Highland Terrance Elementary in New Haven, IN). Melissa used the "Fin-tastic Writing” theme within her fifth grade classroom at Rose Parks Edison Elementary (Indianapolis, IN). As the year progresses, she’ll add a different mini-lesson writing skill per fish bubble.
Buzzing Right Along
Love this idea from first grade teacher Amanda Alsager at Lake Street Elementary (Crown Point, IN). As she introduced each trait to students via Ruth Culham’s 6-Trait songs, Amanda added a bee hive to the bulletin board. When teaching individual mini-lesson skills, then Amanda will slowly add individual bees to each hive.
Tune Into Good Writing
Robyn Schaetzel created a "Tune into Good Writing” 6-Traits bulletin board in her fifth grade classroom at Kankakee Valley Intermediate School (Wheatfield, Indiana). It shows six "iPods" each representing the six traits. As she spirals through the traits this year, the iPod screen will include the information about the specific writing skills they learned.
The "Write" Way
"The Write Way” is Nicole’s Osborn’s classroom theme at Rosa Parks Edison Elementary (Indianapolis, IN). She first introduced each trait to her second graders with a different colored paper. Then she will use the pencil icons (in the pockets) to record the individual writing skills she teaches all year long. Ask she writes a specific skill on a pencil, Nicole will staple it to the colored paper to remind students which trait that particular trait targets.
Emmanuel-St. Michael Lutheran School teacher Kimberly Cain is a HUGE Colts fan. Her first grade classroom is operating under the theme "We are a Team”. Wanting to incorporate that into her 6-traits bulletin board she introduced each trait by adding a goal post to the board. Then, as she teaches specific writing skills all year long, she will add small footballs with the significant writing skills written on them.
Is Your Writing Colorful?
Is your writing colorful? Fourth graders in Kristina Connally’s classroom at Highland Terrace Elementary learned about the 6-Traits via crayon boxes. Notice how she then spiraled back through the traits and added individual crayons (mini-lesson skills) to each trait. This will help the students remember the little nuggets that go with each trait. And I love how she let the students do the writing! One other noticing within this 6-Traits introduction— do you see what’s above her bulletin board? Those are photocopies of the picture book covers she read when she first introduced each trait. FANTASTIC!
We're Colorful Writers!
We’re colorful writers! Using the metaphor of paint cans, first grade teacher Mary Menze introduced the 6-Traits to her young writers at Highland Terrace Elementary. Notice the little details in this display.... 1) This isn’t a full-size bulletin board. Mary used her chalkboard tacking strip to display the 6-Traits. Great adaptation. 2) The visual icons for each trait appear on the paint cans, to aid her visual learners. 3) The song verses are included above each paint can. 4) And as Mary spirals back to work on mini-lessons within each trait, she is adding paint "splotches.” (see the blue blob to the left of the trait of Ideas.) So creative!
With a dalmation theme already present within her Bluffton-Harrison Elementary classroom environment, Kindergarten teacher Janet Heyerly introduced the 6-Traits. She made individual posters for each trait.
Our Writing Takes Shape!
Highland Terrace’s Shellie Wedge has created a display of the 6-Traits that demonstrates the idea of "building” the bulletin board with students. Notice how much empty space there is on this display as of October 2007, but wait until the end of the school year¬— I have no doubt it will be full. This is the concept of the year-long, working bulletin board. FABULOUS, Shellie. I bet your first graders love this resource!
The "Ideas" Bulletin Board
Second graders in Jean Gehrke’s class at Northwest Elementary learn about the traits through an on-going bulletin board. On the "ideas” section of the board, she displays the relevant mini-lesson skills and picture book covers to remind her young writers.
Students at Churubusco Elementary not only learned the traits from their teachers Amy Bianski and Michelle Simmons, but they then worked to create kid-made posters of each trait. This was their version of the "ideas” poster. By giving students a chance to make the trait posters themselves, they have ownership with the building of the writing community, but they also have to articulate what they understand about each trait.
Kid-friendly posters also explain the traits for those at Judge Haynes Elementary. Here are their versions of the "voice, word choice, sentence fluency & conventions.”
Under the Sea
Sometimes teachers choose to introduce the traits with a thematic approach. Teachers Amy Bianski and Michelle Simmons Churubusco Elementary used a light blue shower curtain and painted a "6 Traits Under the Sea” scene. Each underwater creature is labeled as a different trait. A set of bubbles near the animals identifies the key points of each trait.
This 6Traits mobile made by Terri Brooks is now hanging in the primary elementary classrooms at Upland Elementary. Not only will the consistent icons and color scheme help young writers remember the traits as they move from grade-level to grade-level, but the mobile concept is a great way to display the traits without taking up an entire bulletin board. What a space saver!
This six-drawer dresser was the perfect second-hand find for Melissa Beitler. It sets in her sixth grade classroom at South Adams Middle School. Within each drawer she has writer tools and mini-lesson triggers that help students develop the application of each trait. The "fluency” drawer includes several slinkies for students to check their variety in sentence lengths. Within the drawer there is also a handful of Toob-a-loos (fluency phones) for students to check the rhythm and sound of their sentences. And with that, of course, a can of disinfectant!
Tree of Good Writing
Bluffton-Harrison Elementary teacher Cara Crickard utilized the "Tree of Good Writing” to introduce the six traits to her third grade students. There is a branch for each writing trait. Then, as she teaches new skills within her mini-lessons, she attaches a green leaf to the corresponding trait. What a great way to utilize the traits all year long and help students associate which skills go with which traits. Love it!
Tree of Good Writing
Second grade teacher Jana Wanner went one step further… Her "Tree of Good Writing” is painted on the wall at Bluffton-Harrison Elementary! She just adds the "leaf lessons” every year. So creative!
Campus of Good Writing
Charter School of the Dunes is adopting the No Excuses University example, so fifth grade teacher Laura Charpentier decided to go with a college theme for her 6-Traits bulletin board--The Campus of Good Writing. Her trait nuggets are yellow diplomas, since the school is sponsored by Purdue University. Great Idea!