Six Traits of Writing - Word Choice

Six Traits of Writing - Word Choice


Identify Strong Word Choice

Provide students frequent feedback on their word choice. If teachers don't acknowledge the extra effort the student made in selecting just the right word (e.g., snatch versus get), why would they continue to strive for it. However, all this complimenting on student writing takes time.

Smekens Education Got Purple Words? Purple Highlighters

Rather than circling strong words, making comments about them in the margins, and adding stickers to student papers, simply stroke them with a purple highlighter. Tell students that all the purple-highlighted words or phrases represent places where they used strong word choice. Watch as students begin counting up and keeping track of how many purple words they had in each writing. They begin comparing with their peers and challenging each other to see who will have more in the next writing.

Explain to students the rationale for the highlighter color to be purple, too. Discuss that yellow, pink, green, orange, and blue highlighters are common. They can be found everywhere. However, the purple highlighter is much more rare. It's hard to find and rarely seen. Clarify that the specialty of their word choice deserves the special purple highlighter--not a common color. Rare word choice gets the strokes of the rare purple highlighter!

All this lighthearted fun has a greater significance. That is, students are thinking about intentional word choice when composing their first drafts! They are wanting the strokes of purple on their papers. Students are upping the ante on their vocabularies, and the teacher doesn't have to do anything but read their writing and stroke words that are powerful.
Online Workshop

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Whether you need to learn about the Six Traits in a hurry or want a “refresher” to get back on track, this online workshop led by Kristina Smekens will provide you with the confidence and resources you need to begin implementing the Six Traits model.

Topics covered:

  • Answers to the questions “What are the Six Traits?” & “Where did they come from?”
  • Explanation of how to recognize the Six Traits in pictorial writing (K-1), intermediate writing (grades 2-5), and secondary writing (grades 6-12).
  • How the Six Traits unify your instruction of state and national standards and the expectations of state/national writing assessments.
  • Ways to introduce the trait language to students of all ages.
  • Numerous trait-based mini-lesson ideas to target common writing weaknesses.

What's included with your registration?

  • 30-day access to the workshop
  • 5+ hours of dynamic workshop content
  • Lifetime access to classroom-ready digital resources

Have a question about this online workshop?
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