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Track writing skills with a yearlong 6-Traits bulletin board

august 22, 2023

When the Six Traits of Writing are at the center of your writing instruction, it only makes sense that the traits would be depicted physically somewhere in the classroom.

But rather than a simple poster that lists the Traits, build a Six-Traits bulletin board that evolves as new skills are taught.

The initial 6-Traits-of-Writing display

A trait-based bulletin board would start off rather sparse, with only a title that identifies the content to come.

The first lessons would introduce each writing trait to the students—ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions. The teacher would define each writing trait, describe the purpose it serves in writing, and reveal a related graphic icon.

A record of 6-Traits writing skills

The remainder of the year would include delivering grade-level writing skills taught via whole-class mini-lessons.

It’s important to note that you are not teaching traiting—you are teaching writing. The 6 Traits are simply categories that organize writing instruction. Each trait represents several smaller skills that have a similar impact on the overall product. And each of these skills needs to be taught separately and explicitly.

As the teacher reveals a new writing skill during a lesson, she will tag it with a trait. Meaning, students observe the teacher walk over to the growing bulletin board and pin or staple the skill (summarized in 2-4 words) to its “mother” trait. This visual display becomes an evolving record of mini-lesson instruction that both teachers and students refer to regularly.

For example, skills that fall under the trait of ideas include: know the topic, narrow the topic, stay on topic, provide details/evidence, explain evidence, etc.

Formats & mediums for 6-Traits yearlong displays

A yearlong 6-Traits display can be presented in various formats and mediums. Depending on your physical classroom and personal style, consider the best option for you.


The most common approach is to use the same bulletin board all year.

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Sherry Thomas - Great writing takes the cake

Takes-the-Cake Writing
Sherry Thomas, Kindergarten
Blackford County Schools
(Hartford City, IN)

Capture the same list of skills on a single piece of chart paper.

Cara Crickard's Tree of Good Writing Board

Tree of Good Writing
Cara Crickard, Grade 3
Bluffton-Harrison Elementary
(Bluffton, IN)

Consider utilizing existing fixtures—like the fronts of cabinet doors.

Team Traits
Sarah Miller, Grade 2
William Tell Elementary
(Tell City, IN)

A designated space on the wall could work just as well.

6-Traits Bulletin Board Display - Amy Becker - Our Writing Rocks

Rock-Star Writing
Amy Becker, Grade 5
Ridge Lawn Elementary
(Chicago Ridge, IL)

Use the tacking strip above the chalkboard/whiteboard.

6-Traits Bulletin Board Display - We're colorful writers

Colorful Writing
Mary Menze, Grade 1
East Allen County Schools
(New Haven, IN)

For a display that can be put away, a trifold poster board is an option.

6-Traits Display - Trifold

Trifold Traits
Generated sample
Skills listed target
Grades 3-6

A digital display using Google Jamboard may work best for virtual teachers and/or those with smaller classrooms. Label digital sticky notes with the trait-specific skills.

6-Traits Display - Google Jamboard - Beginning of year
6-Traits Display - Google Jamboard - With Skills

After planning where the visual display will be housed, then collect the materials you will need to start it.

CAUTION: If coming up with a theme, laminating cutout pieces, and typing all the skills will take too long for you to implement a visual display—then just plan to handwrite the skills as you go. What’s most important is that you begin to teach these individual skills and connect each one to the writing trait it impacts.

Butcher Paper
Gladys Mitchell, Grade 2
Jay County Schools
(Portland, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board Display - Megan Sawa - Trait Board

Construction Paper
Megan Sawa, Grade 1
District 103
(Lincolnshire, IL)

Laminated Signs
Holly Jones, Grade 3
Protsman Elementary
(Dyer IN)

The 6 Traits are simply six categories that will help tie your writing instruction and assessment together. A yearlong display keeps these grade-level skills in front of students, constantly reminding them of what to include in a “good” one.

Scroll through several yearlong bulletin board examples. (Click on some of the photos for a larger view and/or a gallery of close-up images.)


UnBEElievable Writing
Dana Schaal, Grade 1
Converse Elementary
(Converse, IN)

Out of this World Writing
Jamie Troyer, Grade 2
Converse Elementary
(Converse, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Score in Writing - Colts - Kim Cain

Favorite Team Celebration
Kim Cain, Grade 1
Emmanuel-St. Michael Lutheran School
(Ft. Wayne, IN)

The Cat in the Hat
Amber Crabtree, Kindergarten
Blackford County Schools
(Hartford City, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Writing by Leaps & Bounds - Kathy Stoner

Writing by Leaps & Bounds
Kathy Stoner, Grade 1
Deputy Elementary School
(Deputy, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Colorful Writing - Cindy Douthett

Colorful Writing
Cindy Douthett , Grade 2
Flint Lake Elementary
(Valparaiso, IN)


6-Traits Bulletin Board - Slam-Dunk Writing - Jenny Hanneman

Slam-Dunk Writing
Jenny Hanneman, Grade 5
Holy Family Catholic School
(Jasper, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Magical Writing - Jenn Will

Magical Writing
Jenn Will, Grade 4
Thomas Jefferson Elementary
(Valparaiso, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Superhero Writing - Maggie Finamore

Super(hero) Writing
Maggie Finamore, Grade 5
Success Academy
(South Bend, IN)

“Fresh from the Nest” Writing
Megan McAdams, Resource teacher
Park Elementary (Fairmount, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Sweet Writing - Bethany Rielag

Sweet Writing
Bethany Rielag, Grade 4
North Side Intermediate School (Anderson, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - "Fin"-tastic Writing - Christina Butts

“Fin”-tastic Writing
Christina Butts, Grades 4-5
East Allen County Schools (New Haven, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Let it rain good writing - Angie Thiery

Let it Rain Good Writing
Angie Thiery, Grade 4
Northside Elementary (Hartford City, IN)


6-Traits Bulletin Board - Cactus - Katie Weisenbarger

Cactus Board
Katie Weisenbarger
Coy Middle School (Beavercreek, OH)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Fruitful Writing - Stacey Rubin

Fruitful Writing
Stacey Rubin, Grades 6-8
South Bend Hebrew Day School (South Bend, IN)

Trait-Writing Evidence
Jami Jones, Grade 7
Blackford Junior High (Hartford City, IN)

6-Traits Bulletin Board - Rev up your writing - Jackie Bard

Rev Up Your Writing
Jackie Bard, Grade 8
Belmont Middle School (Decatur, IN)

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