Your students won’t truly know the 6 Traits of Writing until you do. Oh, maybe they’ll be able to rattle off the six terms, but do they know the little nuggets that fall under each trait? Do they really understand what that trait includes? Do you?
To master the traits, it might require more than a poster on the wall. For Kristina Smekens, it required a personal cheat sheet. This was nothing more than an index card that listed the six traits and the skills or nuggets each targeted. She carried it around with her all day long, and whenever she heard a smooth passage of text or great use of figurative language, she’d say, “I love that part. It’s got great–(Then Kristina would quickly glance at her cheat sheet and add)–sentence fluency.”
The cheat sheet helped tie the traits to particular skills. And once that was done for the students, then they had a better grasp of what the traits meant. You can build your own index card cheat sheet or you can download one–or you could carry workshop notes or Ruth Culham’s book around with you. Danielle Vorick and Deanna Wyrick, teachers at Whispering Meadows Elementary, made one and graciously offered to share it with other teachers. Thanks, ladies!
A few years ago, we took this to the next step and created a two-sided cheat sheet for the 6 traits. One side highlights the traits as they appear in primary writing, the other side shows the traits for the upper grades. Use the Word documents above to make your own, or visit The Literacy Store for the Smekens Education 6-Traits of Writing Cheat Sheet.