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Teach students to read for the 6 Traits of Writing

may 16, 2008

Teach students to read for the 6 Traits of Writing
Free Student Download - 6-Traits of Writing Discussion Grid

To reinforce the traits in any classroom, create opportunities to “read like writers.” Pointing out evidence of the 6 Traits of Writing within the reading is a strategy to keep the 6 Traits alive in your classroom, even if writing time is minimal.

Read like writers

Robin Peterman (Instructional Interventionist at Abbett Elementary School) took it one step further. Instead of the teacher pointing out the traits in reading, she has her students do the thinking!

After using picture books to refresh students’ minds of the 6 Traits of writing, Robin asked students to read like writers. She put them in small groups, decided on which trait or traits to focus on for the day’s reading, and required the students to keep rigorous documentation. Her handout requires students to reference the text with specific examples. This “citation” component is a key factor in writing a strong literature response.


Robin wrote in an email, “Our (corporation) data showed that literary response and analysis were weak. What better way to try to improve those skills than to study books as critics using 6+1 traits as parameters.”

While listening to the students, Robin heard one group talk about the author’s word choice on specific pages and another group liked how the author used his voice to foreshadow action. What an excellent reading-writing connection, Robin! Thanks for sharing.

Develop student vocabularies

Gifted & Talented teacher Gloria Horn at Bailly Elementary (Chesterton, IN) has been encouraging the development of her students’ incidental vocabulary.

Teach students to read like writers--bulletin board

1. First, she set the tone for word collecting. She read The Boy Who Loved Words, by Roni Schotter and Max’s Words, by Kate Banks. Her students then become word detectives on the lookout for strong word choice within their everyday, incidental reading.

2. With the tone established, Gloria then encouraged students to physically collect these new-found words. Each time a student came across a “good word,” he wrote it on an index card and added it to the growing pool of words on a bulletin board. Gloria recognizes that to grow a student’s writing vocabulary, you first have to grow a student’s reading vocabulary. She is truly building wordsmiths–writers hungry to collect, learn, and utilize words!

3. She didn’t stop there. Gloria added a third element to this fabulous display. She honors that it is not helpful to just know of a word, you have to know what it means. So each index card includes a kid-friendly definition plus a sentence using the word appropriately.

WOW! What a powerful growing bulletin board! Thanks for sharing, Gloria. Download a larger version of this bulletin board idea.

River Valley Elementary School principal Deb Lynch Bull Dog Bulletin Board

Teacher comments

River Valley Elementary School (Lemont, IL) principal Deb Lynch shared their own thematic display. Pictured here is Lydia Assensi, the artist who painted a bulldog, the school’s mascot, donning a purple-words shirt. Students then added purple words on miniature purple bulldogs. What a great way to encourage strong word choice from all students in all grades and for years to come!

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