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How do you prepare students to synthesize when reading off a screen?

March 24, 2020

One key benefit of using the Six-Traits writing framework is its universal application to all types of writing and writing assessments.

Rather than viewing the Six Traits as a separate initiative outside of standards-based instruction, we need to be intentional about teaching trait-based lessons while preparing for standardized assessments.

Recognize the Six Traits in all writing

Ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions are the essential traits that are embedded in the rubrics for state and national writing assessments. While the traits of ideas and organization will always lead the pack, the best written responses contain a combination of all six traits.

Dissecting the Rubrics

Unfortunately, most rubrics for standardized assessments are not categorized by the Six Traits explicitly. You have to study the criteria and ask, “What does this really mean?” It’s when you marry the answers to this question with the Six Traits that you will see connections every time.

For example, in the rubrics below, the criteria has been color-coded to categorize expectations into each of the six traits. In each example, the color blue represents the trait of ideas and green is used to highlight criteria from the trait of organization. These two colors bleed all over every rubric because they are among the “trump” traits that take top priority.

Seeing each trait highlighted within the assessment rubrics can help prioritize what skills to target as you plan your yearlong writing instruction. In the end, if we build strong writers who can excel within the parameters of the Six Traits, they will also excel on standardized writing assessments.

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