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Teach parents about the 6 Traits

october 23, 2008

Teach parents about the 6 Traits
September, October, and November often include parent nights, open houses, and literacy celebrations. If you are looking to incorporate a 6-Traits focus during this year’s parent event, maybe one of the following ideas will be inspiring:

6 Traits of Writing - Smekens Education Original Icons

1. Share the trait talk

Focus on building a common understanding and the 6-Traits writing vocabulary with parents. As they enter the building, give each a passport (folded/stapled paper booklets) and a map of the school. On the map, have different classrooms designated as specific “trait” destinations. Some classrooms should be labeled as Ideas, others as Organization, some as Voice, etc. At each “trait destination” parents learn about the trait, what it means, the icon, and the writing skills it includes. Parents move to a new trait destination (classroom) every 10 minutes. On their way out of each room, parents collect a trait sticker to add to their passports. After 60 minutes (six 10-minute rotations), conclude the evening with a culminating message from the teachers and/or principal in the cafeteria.

2. Act it out

A second strategy for sharing the 6-Traits language with parents might include teachers “acting out” each trait. The evening could be entertaining and informing with appearances by characters like Mr. Ideas, Mrs. Organization, Captain Conventions, and the Style Family (including word choice, sentence fluency, and voice). Each trait “character” could be dressed up and give a short monologue explaining its role in good writing.

3. Engage with activities

If you are ready to move beyond just sharing common vocabulary, consider targeting the different ways teachers are bringing the traits into their writing classrooms. Have the gymnasium broken into six areas. Parents and students rotate through each location and participate in various 6-Trait writing activities. For example, select a generic topic and parents can participate in the completing of an ABC Chart (for ideas/details) on a topic… and then a grocery list pre-write (for organization) on a topic, etc… They can brainstorm alternative words for “fun,” “like,” “get,” and other overly used words (word choice). Conduct a mini-activity for each trait to reveal what skills the trait targets and to show parents the fun writing activities that are happening in the classroom. If students are present for the evening, they can participate in the writing activities, too. This gives parents an opportunity to see their kids in action.

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