The activity write-up on this page is designed to help teachers build the common vocabulary around the writing traits that Vicki Spandel writes about.
An important note for our WritingFix teacher users: This website is not a "writing program." We simply feature thoughtful lessons and classroom resources designed by outstanding writing teachers. Our model lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how one becomes a genuine writing teacher.
Traits as your Classroom Language:
The NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language is a valued tool in the classrooms of Northern Nevada. It is given out to teachers who take our trait-inspired workshops. If you live outside of Northern Nevada, you can find out how to order your own copy of this guide by visiting the NNWP's Publication Page.
One goal we have for the student writers of Northern Nevada is for them to be able to tell us two things about the act of writing: 1) which of the six writing traits do they shine the most with as a writer; 2) and which trait do they struggle with most and--more importantly--what strategies do they use to help them when they struggle.
In order to be able to tell us these two things, obviously students need to own the language of the traits, which requires very deliberate teaching. The NNWP strives to create new activities that make "owning trait language" a fun process. As part of our revision workshops, participants are challenged to create trait-inspired activites like the one found on this page.
WritingFix's Trait Post-it® Note-sized templates were created by NNWP Consultant Corbett Harrison. During a rather boring lunch hour in 2002, Corbett taught himself to print haiku poems on Post-it® Note-sized templates for his students. Amazed at how well his students had responded to the fact that they had a poem on a Post-it, Corbett began designing templates to help him print anything small enough on a Post-It. When the NNWP created the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide, Corbett created a variety of 6 Trait Post-it® Note-sized templates that can be found in the guide, and they were immediately seen as a powerful tool for response groups and revision tasks. Corbett also sells the templates for his trait-inpsired Post-it® Note-sized templates at his personal website.
6 Trait Post-it® Note-sized templates for the trait(s) your students are revising:
When we use the Post-it® Note-sized templates during our workshops, we use a different color for each trait. Idea development is printed on green paper or Post-it® Note-sized templates; organization on blue; voice on yellow; word choice on purple; sentence fluency on orange; and conventions on pink.
These colors correspond with WritingFix's 6-Trait Poster Set as well as many of the trait materials here at our website.
Create a class set of 6 Trait Post-it® Note-sized templates for the trait(s) you will be asking students to revise for. There are two ways to do this.
You can simply run the Post-It sheets through a Xerox machine on colored paper, then cut them out into six sqaures about the size of a Post-it. These can be stapled to your students rough drafts.
You can actually print the Post-it® Note-sized templates on real Post-it® Note-sized templates, which takes a little longer, but really excites students. To do this, you need to use your printer's feeder tray. This visual set of directions will show you how to do this.
Variations for Using the Post-it® Note-sized templates:
There are so many good ways to use these Post-It tools; here are four of our favorites, which really work nicely in a differentiated writing workshop classroom.
First, understand that the Post-it® Note-sized templates are intended to be used during response time (in student groups or as a tool for self-response). The Post-it® Note-sized templates provide for the students the language to set revision goals for their rough drafts. We believe each student should have a minimum of two revision goals that they can communicate to the teacher before they begin the revision process.
When first using the Post-it® Note-sized templates with your students, be sure to point out the verb on each note; the verb is rank, not rate. When students rate the skills against each other, they can give themselves all 3's or all 5's. Rank asks them to compare the Post-it® Note-sized templates' five skills against each other, and decide on one 1, one 2, one 3, etc; ranking is harder and requires students to read the writing at a deeper level.
Variation #1: Teacher Ranking versus Self-Ranking...You shouldn't do this one whole class because it will require a lot of time from the teacher. This one is intended for a teacher working with a smaller pull-out group who maybe needs a bit more direction or supervision. Basically, the students all self-rank their own skills on one of the trait Post-it® Note-sized templates. Students keep their Post-it® Note-sized templates a secret while the teacher then ranks each student's skills with the same Post-it. The rankings are compared and discussed; the intention of the discussion is for the student to come up with his/her own idea for revision goals and strategies.
Variation #2: Blind Rankings...This one works really well with small response groups that can work independently, but it requires a lot of printed Post-it® Note-sized templates; we suggest you print on colored paper for this one. Each student needs a copy of a printed Post-it for each member's paper in their group as well as their own. The whole group should be focused on the same trait, so they should all have the same trait on their Post-it® Note-sized templates. After they self-rank their own paper (and keep their Post-it a secret), students pass their papers around the group's circle during response time. With each paper that comes their way, each student fills out a Post-it for the writer, but they keep their Post-it rankings a secret until the paper has made its way around the entire circle; you may want to have students write the author's name at the top of the Post-it® Note-sized templates so they don't mix them all up. Once everyone has read and ranked all the papers in the response group, each group member--one at a time--shares his/her rankings and the group talks about where their rankings of the same paper are similar and different. The purpose of the conversation is for each writer to come up with (at least) two revision strategies they will try based on the rankings and the conversations about the rankings. When students disagree, they need to be coached to have a good conversation about the disagreement; we find the best revision goals come from good conversations about ranking disagreements.
Variation #3: Writer Ranks one, Teacher Ranks Another...You shouldn't do this one whole class because it will require a lot of time from the teacher. This one is intended for a teacher working with a smaller pull-out group who maybe needs a bit more direction or supervision. Basically, the students all self-rank their own skills on one of the trait Post-it® Note-sized templates that the teacher has chosen for them. The teacher then self-ranks each writer's paper for a different trait. When these students come up with their revision goals, they chould be encouraged to set one goal from their self-ranking Post-it, and one goal from the teacher's ranking Post-it.
Variation #4: Multiple Trait Rankings...This one also works really well with small response groups that can work independently. With this variation, each writer in the group is in charge of one trait Post-it. When a paper comes acoss the desk of the "Word Choice Student," for example, that student uses the Word Choice Post-it and ranks the writer's use of only those skills; the paper then moves to a different student who ranks for a different trait. With each student ranking for a different trait, the writer will have more than one trait to think about when he/she has to set revision goals.
Share your Students' Improved Writing: (and earn a free resource for your classroom)
WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!
We're currently looking for student samples for all grade levels for this lesson! If you obtain both a thoughtful rough draft and an even better revised draft from a student for this page's writing tool (in typed, scanned, or photographed form), they can be posted atthis blog page. If we select your student's sample to be moved from the blog to this page at WritingFix, we will send you a free NNWP Print Resource for your classroom.
At WritingFix, we aim to safely publish students' writing from all over the world. We're looking for student samples to post for this page's write-up! If your students write a rough draft that is improved upon by this page's teaching tools, we want to see both drafts! If we feature one of your student's writing on this page, we will send you a complimentary copy of one of the NNWP Publications for your classroom.