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Tweak the Six-Traits Rubric for Different Units

April 22, 2019

FAQ: Do I need to create a new rubric for every new writing unit/assignment? ANSWER: While it’s true that the writer’s purpose and presentation may look very different depending on the genre, all good writing possesses the same basic ingredients–the Six Traits. Consequently, the core of any trait-based writing rubric will be applicable to any genre. In fact, this is one of the advantages of the 6-Traits language. Strong writing always includes:

  • Developed ideas that are on topic and narrow in their focus.
  • An organized introduction, body, and conclusion or beginning, middle, and end.
  • Strong word choice and appropriate voice/tone.
  • Varied sentence fluency and accurate use of grammar and mechanics (i.e., conventions).

Because of this umbrella effect, the same rubric can be applied to various genres, without having to create a new one per unit.

However, this requires users to tweak their interpretation of the rubric criteria according to the genre. If one of the criterion state that “Ideas are well developed with supporting details,” then this would vary in its interpretation.

If the criterion stated that “Ideas are organized logically,” then this would vary in its interpretation.

If the criterion state that “Quotations added interest,” then this would vary in its interpretation.

  • In a narrative, this means that character dialogue is interesting and relevant.
  • In an informative, this means that expert quotes are interesting and relevant.
  • In an argumentative, this means that testimonials are interesting and relevant.

As new skills are taught and added to the same growing rubric, it can be applied to any writing unit. It simply requires the teacher to review the criteria and tweak its interpretation for each genre. This conversation should occur at the beginning of the new unit. Then, when students craft their end-of-unit pieces, they know exactly what the expectations are.

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