Adjust Conventions Expectations

Posted on February 07, 2017

Adjust Conventions Expectations

Of the six traits, five traits are obvious when students read their writing aloud. Only one trait requires looking at the writing--the trait of conventions.

The trait of conventions assesses the level of correctness found in a piece. Conventions include spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. Anything you can "fix" falls under this trait.

As we teach our students the tools and the rules of conventions, it's important to include something more than just the rules. We need to teach students how to adjust their conventions--to change their grammar and mechanics based on the purpose and the topic. Conventions change based on what we're writing about, the reasons we're writing, and even the writing stages.

For example, when we write a first draft, we lower our expectations of conventions. In a first draft, a writer focuses on the trait of ideas rather than on how to spell every word correctly. However, we raise the bar of expectations as we move toward a final draft.

Another reason writers adjust their convention expectations is to fit different types or genres of writing. Take for example text messaging. When it comes to text messaging, abbreviations and symbols (e.g., ur, 2moro, 2nit, l8r, etc.) are commonplace. While this type of writing is not appropriate for most classroom writing, it is what readers expect in text messaging. In fact spelling all words out when texting isn't necessarily appropriate for that genre. It breaks the convention rules for texting!

Adjust Conventions Expecations

Take time to show students examples of formal and less formal conventions. Explain to students how to determine the level of correctness expected in different writing situations. Make sure they know what level you expect when you give them an assignment. Remember, it's not a matter of right or wrong conventions. It's all about adjusting conventions for purpose, audience, and topic.