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A Lesson to Prepare for the State Writing Test
a teacher-created lesson inspired by the NNWP's revision inservice class

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Great quotes from Bonnie's students:

"I'm going to show you the four, yes four, writing traits! Please keep your hands and feet inside the writing at all times!"
_____--
Eddy, age 10

"The most wonderful thing about organization is you have to make the reader feel full." _____--David, age 10

"Voice is one of the four gallons of gas you need to fill the story car." _____--Sam, age 10

“The important thing about organization is that it’s inviting the reader in and that is like warming your house up for them.” _____--Blake, age 10

“The important thing about Voice is the knowledge that it will always be unique to you. It will make your reader forget they’re reading a child’s paper, and they’ll think they’re being swept into a new world. It might sound like you’re telling a story aloud; that you care about it; that you give it your personal touch. But the important thing about Voice is the knowledge that it will always be unique to you.”
_____-- Molly, age 10

 

 

 


 

This Lesson's Title:

The Important
Thing about the Trait Rubrics

This lesson was created by Northern Nevada fifth grade teacher Bonnie Serpa, who generously shared it with us to post here at WritingFix.

In Northern Nevada, we offer professional development to schools who are working on improving their writing test scores and their use of Writer's Workshop.

This lesson uses The Important Book as its mentor text. The best lessons for Writer's Workshop make connections to well-written mentor texts.


Grade Levels: 4th - 8th

Materials:

  • The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Current Nevada State Writing Proficiency Analytic Scoring Rubrics (either for the ActivBoard for all to review together, or group or individual copies for the students to review together)
  • 4 different colored pencils for each student (not yellow)
  • 8 ½” x 11” blank paper for each student
  • 9” x 17” white construction paper for each student.

Differentiated Instruction Support Materials: Additional Writing Traits trade books or student picture books or novel passages to provide specific trait examples in Ideas, Organization, Voice, or Conventions.

Objective : Each student will demonstrate personal ownership of their understanding of the Writing Traits by using their written expression skills to construct a Writing Traits Poetry Poster using the format of the poetry book The Important Book to assess the importance of the focus of excellent writing based on each trait within the analytical scoring guidelines.

Lesson Outline : Following the reading of the poetry book, The Important Book, each student will read and discuss the specific Writing Traits as outlined on the Nevada State Writing Proficiency Analytic Scoring Rubrics: Ideas and Content (Development); Organization; Voice; and Conventions.

The students will discuss and learn the vocabulary words of which they are not certain about from within the rubric guide. The guide with then be removed from the ActivBoard or returned to the teacher from the students if they had a copy, so that they may build their own notes on each trait from their personal meaning as they discussed and reviewed the traits.

Each student will demonstrate personal ownership of their understanding of the Writing Traits by using their written expression skills to construct a Writing Traits Poetry Poster using the format of the poetry book The Important Book to assess the importance of the focus of excellent writing based on each trait within the analytical scoring guidelines.

Lesson:

  • The teacher will read The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown aloud to the students.
  • The Nevada State Writing Proficiency Scoring Rubrics will be displayed either on the ActivBoard or the students will have either a group copy or individual copies.
  • Each section of the rubric guide will be discussed individually: Ideas and Content; Organization; Voice, and Conventions. With the discussion of each section, the student can explore the meaning, explore vocabulary, discuss examples of how writing meets that criteria or does not meet that criteria.
  • The rubric guide with then be removed from the overhead, or the copies returned to the teacher from the students.
  • Building the Graphic Organizer: Once each section of the rubric guide has been discussed, the students are given a blank 8 ½” by 11” paper. The students will fold the paper into fourths so that there are four separate sections on the paper. Using the paper vertically, the will title each section with one of the Writing Trait words: Ideas; Organization; Voice; or Conventions.
  • Listing: Under each section, the students will list the important trait details that they understand belong under each trait. The student should be demonstrating their own meaning of what each trait represents. The teacher will either display the outline of the poetry format on the ActivBoard or will write it on the white board for the students to refer to during their writing.
  • Rough Draft: After the students have developed their note sheet for each trait, they will construct a rough draft copy of their poetry based on the format of The Important Book. Their rough draft copy will look like their note page—four sections addressing each writing trait.
  • Revision: The students will revise their rough draft copies.
  • Edit: The students will share their final revised copy with at least two classmates who will edit strictly for conventions.
  • Published Draft: Each student will be given a white piece of 9” x 17” construction paper and four different colored pencils (not yellow). The student will fold their construction paper into four sections. Each section will be labeled with one of the writing traits: Ideas, Organization, Voice, or Conventions. Using a different colored pencil for each trait, the students will write their finished poem for each individual trait in one of the four boxes on their writing traits posters.
  • Differentiated Instruction: In small groups, the students can receive more detailed instruction as to the folding of their note-taking paper into fourths as needed. The students may then construct their note pages on each trait together through discussion of their meaning. Additional trade books showing each of the traits within the writing of the book may be used for examples as well. Once they have constructed an overall list together, they may each write their own list for each trait for their referral. Once they have their note list, they will be able to construct their poems using the format outline given. Peer tutors may help with the Revision of the poems for content and understanding. The students will then be able to participate in sharing the editing process for conventions as at least two students will be reviewing each project before final publication. The students can again be given more detailed instruction as to the folding of their construction paper for their final draft copy. Be sure to check for understanding in regard to orientation of the paper (vertical) and the use each of colored pencils for each trait.

Fifth Grade Student Samples:

Molly's final draft:

Organization:

The important thing about Organization is that it’s compelling. It tells a story from beginning, middle to end. It’s inviting, and it will leave your reader with a sense of accomplishment.

But the important thing about organization is that it’s compelling.

Ideas:

The important thing about ideas is that they’re fresh and engaging. They hold your reader’s attention, and they use details to give information.

But the important thing about ideas is that they’re fresh and engaging.

Conventions:

The important thing about Conventions is that its grammar usage is correct. It uses complete thoughts and spells words correctly.

But the important thing about conventions is that its grammar usage is correct.

Voice:

The important thing about Voice is the knowledge that it will always be unique to you. It will make your reader forget they’re reading a child’s paper, and they’ll think they’re being swept into a new world. It might sound like you’re telling a story aloud; that you care about it; that you give it your personal touch.

But the important thing about Voice is the knowledge that it will always be unique to you.

 

Sam's final draft:

Voice:

The important thing about Voice is that it sounds like you and that it is yours. It will get you a good grade, it’s honest, and it’s interesting.

But the important thing about Voice is that it sounds like you and that it is yours.

Ideas:

The important thing about Ideas is that they are creative. They make up your story, they are clear, and they are something new.

But the most important thing about Ideas is that they are creative.

Conventions:

The important thing about Conventions is that they are needed in sentences. They make you capitalize, and they come in different shapes.

But the important thing about Conventions is that they are needed in sentences.

Organization:

The important thing about Organization is that it makes the words and details flow smoothly. It makes a good introduction and a good conclusion.

But the important thing about Organization is that it makes the words and details flow smoothly.

 

Savannah's final draft:

Ideas:

The important thing about Ideas is that they make things colorful and very full of detail. Ideas are important within a short account of an interesting or humorous incident. Ideas are important because they are full of creativity and make connections. Ideas are important when you have evidence.

But the most important thing about Ideas is they make things colorful and very full of detail.

Voice:

The important thing about Voice is it makes things that you read more enthusiastic and honest. It is important because it needs to be important. Voice is important because it has the “ring of conviction” in it; it’s also important when somebody believes in it.

But the most important thing about Voice is it makes things that you read more enthusiastic and honest.

Organization:

The important thing about Organization is it makes things neater, and that it is very good when people are trying to read your story. It does smoothly and has beginning, middle, and ending. Organization is important because when the person is trying to read your story, they cannot put it down. It’s important because it should be complete for the person who’s reading it.

But the important thing about Organization is it makes things neater, and that is very good when people are trying to read your story.

Conventions:

The important thing about Conventions is it helps put everything in its place, and that it is practically the boss of everything. It tells you when to put periods, capitals, and internal/external punctuation marks in your writing. Conventions are also important by telling you grammar usage, to stay in the right tense, and correct spelling.

But the most important thing about Conventions is it helps put everything in its place, and that it is practically the boss of everything.

 

Stephan's final draft:

Ideas:

The important thing about Ideas is that the paper has details, and it has creativity. The paper has to have something new, and the paper stays on topic. The paper also makes connections and has a main idea.

But the most important thing about Ideas is that the paper has details and creativity.

Voice:

The important thing about Voice is that the paper is honest, and it has the “ring of conviction.” The paper has great word choice and vocabulary, and the writer establishes a connection with the reader.

But the most important thing about voice is that the paper is honest, and it has the “ring of conviction.”

Organization:

The important thing about Organization is structure and that the paper flows smoothly. It draws the reader in, and the story weaves together. It also has details that are where they should be.

But the most important thing about Organization is structure, and that the paper flows smoothly.

Conventions:

The important thing about Conventions is that the paper has exclamation marks, and it has great grammar. It has correct spelling and correct capitalization.

But the most important thing about conventions is that the paper has exclamation marks, and it has great grammar.

 

Carlos' final draft:

Ideas:

The important thing about Ideas is that you have lots of details and that it is good to have lots of details. Ideas use describing words.

But the most important thing about Ideas that that you have lots of details.

Organization:

The important thing about Organization is you tell a story from beginning to middle to end. You can have details.

But the most important thing about organization is you tell a story from beginning to middle to end.

Voice:

The important thing about voice is that your writing sounds like you. It can be funny or sad.

But the most important thing about Voice is that your writing sounds like you.

Conventions:

The most important thing about Conventions is that you can use punctuation and great sentences. Conventions are capitals, periods, commas, and grammar.

But the most important thing about Conventions is that you can use punctuation and great sentences.

 


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