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Best-of-Smekens Writing Conference:
Writing Remix 2017


Six-Traits Essentials


Recognize the 6 Traits within K-12 Student Writing

For many more student writing samples, check out Launching the Writer’s Workshop—K-2 or 3-12 versions.

Black and white mini-posters PDF

B/W with color mini-posters PDF

Monochromatic mini-posters PDF

Optional Sentence Fluency Smartphone

Smekens Education Bright Ideas Light Bulb


Get Started with the 6 Traits of Writing

Reveal mentor text that exemplifies each trait

Create your own Let your Voice Be Heard poster. by sixth grade teacher Tiana Perin at Van Buren Elementary (Van Buren, IN)

“How Are We Feeling?” mini-posters by third grade teacher Danielle Phillips at Triton Central Elementary (Fairland, IN)

Secondary teachers may prefer to use a passage from the reading curriculum (e.g., Carpet Fitter, an urban legend or Body of Evidence, informational text).

Incorporate additional supports


Create Writing Rubrics in the Primary Grades

Introduce rubrics


Prioritize your Trait-Based Instruction

Narrow the focus

Support elementary writers in finding the smallest topic. A strong, narrow thesis statement is typically much longer than a broad, general one.

Elaborate and develop individual ideas

Add supporting “leg” sentences: Hold up each pizza-table idea with sentence “legs” of support.

Transition between ideas

Use transitions to show the relationship among claims, reasons, and evidence.

Connect ideas within paragraphs.

Improve self-editing

Alert the reader to a shift in ideas

Create flow with word spacing

Words, with spaces between them, flow like a string of dominoes.


Assess Writing with a 6-Traits Rubric

Build non-writing rubrics

Specific mini-lesson instructions for building rubrics with students are detailed within Chapter 7 of Launching the Writer’s Workshop: Grades 3-12.

Desk Rubric
Grade 4 Example

Locker Rubric
Grade 10 Example

Launching the Writer’s Workshop: Grades 3-12
Chapter 7 – “Building Rubrics”

Build an initial writing rubric

Build and grow a writing rubric with students

When starting Phase 4 of the launch, Kristina referenced the power of creating kid-friendly rubrics with your students. This concept is reinforced in an article in the February 2012 ASCD Education Update newsletter and based on Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.Specific mini-lesson instructions for building rubrics with students are detailed within Chapter 7

Project this Word document to build and then update a writing rubric with student input.

Fine-tune rubric implementation