Sponsored since 2001 by the Northern Nevada Writing Project -- http://nnwp.org

 
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The NNWP celebrates its Consultants who've created websites about teaching and writing:


Corbett's
Always Write
Website
(Grades K-12)



Jodie's
Start to Learn
Website

(Kindergarten)



Holly's
Making Mathematicians
Website

(Grades K-12)



Brian's
Learning is Messy
Blog

(Grades 4-6)



Dena's
Write in the Middle
Website

(Grades 6-8)

Be sure to visit our sponsors:


The NNWP's website

and


NWP's Website

Writing Traits: WritingFix's In-service Workshops & Trait Print Guides for Teachers
sharing resources from our Northern Nevada workshops and print resources
"The NNWP has once again done an outstanding job in creating an invaluable resource for teachers. I have used both the Writing Across the Curriculum Guide and the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide in my classroom. My students love the activities and the results have been amazing. Thank you for the wonderful publications!" --Patty K. (Wisconsin teacher)
Click here to see our Going Deep with 6 Trait Language online bibliography.

Hello, my name is Dena Harrison, and I have been Coordinator for 6 Trait Initiatives sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project since 2004.  Each year in Northern Nevada, our NNWP hosts several trait-inspired inservice classes for teachers, it oversees dozens of 2- and 3-hour workshops at school sites, and it develops new 6-trait resources that are freely shared on this page.

In addition to working with the Northern Nevada Writing Project, I teach 7th and 8th graders in Northern Nevada.  The traits have always been the language of my classroom, and my students talk to each other like writers during our writers workshop time.  I am diligent in teaching them to use the language of the traits meaningfully, and that diligence makes all the difference as I prepare my students for their eighth grade writing test, for the rigors of high school, and--most importantly--for life. We become life-long writers in my classroom, and teaching my students to use and think with traits language is what makes that possible.

In 2006, many of my lessons and resources, as well as lessons and resources from dozens of my fellow Northern Nevada teachers, were published together in a marvelous print resource:  The Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide.  This guide was the third collaborative project between the Northern Nevada Writing Project and Nevada's Northwest Professional Development Program.   The 196-page resource is now used in all the trait trainings I coordinate for NNWP, and schools in Northern Nevada can obtain staff sets of this guide for simply reimbursing the NNWP the price it costs us to print and bind these guides. Outside of Northern Nevada, teachers can order copies of the guide by visiting the NNWP's Publication Page.

On this page, you can learn more about our 6-trait print guide (and have access to several free lessons and resources featured in the guide), you can explore the activties we do at our 6-trait inservice classes, and you can link to other on-line resources that will help you give your students deeper ownership of 6-trait language.

Our Trait Inservice continues in Northern Nevada. Each year, the NNWP hosts a variety of inservice classes and workshops on the six writing traits for the teachers in Northern Nevada. On this page, we offer access to the resources and activities that have made our professional development series very popular among our Nevada colleagues:

If you plan to use any of this page's resources in your classrooms or during your own professional development classes, please be sure to read our permission policy.

If you like this page...

...be sure to check out Dena's Write in the Middle website for even more trait-inspired resources.

Looking for books that inspire student writing?


Click here to see our favorite books and access the lessons that use them at WritingFix.

From Dena's bookshelf...

6 + 1 Traits of Writing:
The Complete Guide (Grades 3 and Up)
by Ruth Culham

The Original 2006 Print Resource on the Writing Traits,
for grades 3-12
Our 2008 Print Resource:
Traits in the Primary Grades

In January of 2006, the Northern Nevada Writing Project--sponsors of the WritingFix website--first published its Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide. In Northern Nevada, this 196-page resource is the workbook received by teachers attending many of the NNWP's inservice classes and 6-trait workshops.

Appreciated praise for the NNWP's
Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide
Click here for information on ordering your own copy.

"I have used 6 Traits for several years. However, my use of 6 Traits increased 100 fold after discovering WritingFix. I purchased Going Deep... from your website, and we have  been going gang busters ever since. I was running out of ideas and motivation.  I am re-energized and I have found a way to reach students that I have been unsuccessful with in the past. Keep up the great work. You are renewing the spirit of teachers!"

--Jody B. (Florida teacher)


"This is a thoughtful and logical series of lessons which help classroom teachers integrate the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing into their teaching of writing and thinking. Kudos to the NNWP for funding and promoting this resource."

--Robin R. (Maryland teacher)

Scroll down to have access to six complimentary lessons from this print resource.

In December of 2008, thanks to the leadership of one of Northern Nevada's most dynamic kindergarten teachers--Jodie Black--, the Northern Nevada Writing Project published a 6-trait resource specifically designed for kindergarten and first grade teachers; the guide has this companion page here at WritingFix, which is used during our inservice classes on traits and primary writers..

Appreciated praise for the NNWP's
Six by Six: Traits Writing For Little Writers
Click here for information on ordering your own copy.

"Thanks so much for the Six by Six: Traits Writing for Little Writers book.  I am so excited!  I have struggled with how to make those traits make sense to little writers for 5 years now. Thanks for the help!"

--Gretchen S. (Nevada teacher)


Thirty-six thoughtful writing lessons--6 per trait--all designed by a dozen Nevada teachers who were determined to make trait language accessible to their kindergarten and first grade writers. Each lesson comes with a solid focus on a single trait, as well as with suggestions for mentor texts, access to student samples, and ideas for graphic and advanced organizers. The intent of this guide is to inspire fellow kindergarten and first grade teachers to craft high-quality, trait-focused lessons based on mentor texts they use with their students.

Be sure to visit...
WritingFix's Webpage for Primary Writers Using the 6 Traits

Six Popular Activities used during Dena's 6-Trait Inservice Classes in Nevada
(We share these activities and invite you to use them with your own students or during your own trainings. If you use them, please be sure to follow our permission guidelines.)

Activity #1:
Make Metaphors for Good Writing

Robert Marzano's research stresses the importance of making meaning through comparison and contrast thinking. The NNWP's Going Deep with Compare and Contrast Thinking Guide provides a fine activity, which we use at our inservice classes.

The activity: Class participants (in small groups) work together to create a metaphor for "a good piece of writing" using one of these comparison worksheets:

Groups share their posters, comparing their metaphors. Teachers are encouraged to use a similar activity with their own students and post their students' creations.

Below are several posters made during an inservice class in Northern Nevada; click on them to view/print them in larger form. Compare and contrast the metaphors of our teacher participants! You can learn more about WritingFix's celebration of compare and contrast thinking by visiting our Compare and Contrast Homepage.

vs.

vs.

Click on any of the images to view them in larger form.

Activity #2:
Our 6 Trait Posters and Non-Linguistic Representations

Robert Marzano's research also stresses the importance of using non-linguistic representations to deepen student learning. Traits language, if you hope to use it as a classroom language, needs to be thought about at a much deeper level than the bottom level of Bloom's taxonomy. Hanging store-bought trait posters up in your room and sharing them with your students rarely takes students beyond a knowledge level understanding. Asking students to create non-linguistic representations of each trait is a great way to push them towards deeper thinking about each trait's complexity. If you're interested in more information, visit our Non-Linguistic Representation Homepage.

The activity: Our class participants (in small groups) work together to create a non-linguistic representation for one assigned trait. To help them think deeply about the trait, we give them each a set of our 6-trait poster set. Click on the house below to open/print the 7-page poster set. Below the house, you will find non-linguistic representations created by our teacher participants; click on them to view/print them in larger form.

Click here to open and print our 7-page poster set on the six traits.



Non-Linguistic Reps for: Organization, Idea Development, and Voice


Non-Linguistic Reps for: Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Conventions

Activity #3:
Composing Original Trait Songs

Assessments can take many forms. Having learners compose an original song is a great way to hear what your students know and understand.

The Activity: We divide our inservice participants into six groups and assign each group a different trait. Each group has 15 minutes to choose a song with a familiar tune ("Happy Birthday," "Frere Jacques," "Home on the Range," etc.) and write new lyrics that both define the trait and give suggestions on how to succeed with the trait in a piece of writing. Of course, we sing the songs to each other.

We challenge our teacher participants to teach each writing trait so thoroughly that their own students could write an original song to show their understanding of each trait.

One of our Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultants, Terry Stelle (pictured at left), shared with us her original trait songs that she wrote and teaches her students to sing as they prepare to be tested. These songs mention both scores and strategies involved with each of Nevada's tested traits.

Activity #4:
Trait Post-Its to Build Communities of Editors or Revisers

Corbett Harrison, who is proud to be married to Dena, loves to print things on Post-It notes. In the Going Deep with 6-Trait Language Guide, Corbett created and shared Post-Its for all six of the writing traits. He uses these Post-Its to create communities of revisers and editors for his classroom writers workshop. I

The Activity: Corbett prints this sheet of Post-Its for each participant in the class. He uses the color scheme assigned at WritingFix, and each trait is printed on a different colored Post-It: idea development = green; organization = blue; voice = yellow; conventions = pink; sentence fluency = orange; word choice = purple.

Participants remove the pink (conventions) Post-It, and they self-rank themselves using the four skills from the Post-It; Corbett asks the teachers to ignore the skill of capitalization for this activity. Teachers who ranked themselves with spelling as their number one skill sit together; teachers who ranked grammar as their number one skill sit together. Etc. Corbett discusses how your can set-up a functioning community of editors, once students recognize they have strengths with certain conventions.

Teachers spread out the remaining five Post-It notes and place them in the order that they--as writers--feel most competent with. If a teacher decides that idea development is his/her best personal trait while sentence fluency is the trait that's hardest for them, they place the ideas Post-It first in their line-up and the sentence fluency post-it last. Everyone notes how each teacher's line-up of Post-Its is unique. Corbett then has the teachers self-divide into "revision groups" of three or four members; in these groups, two teachers may not have the same "strongest trait," which is easily monitored by having everyone take their best trait Post-Its with them to their group. Each group should be made up of teachers with a different colored Post-It. Teachers discuss how they--as a group with different identified strengths as writers--could serve as a much more competent revision group than a random grouping of students, which is the point of the activity: revision groups should be strategically built based on student writers' strengths.

To prove the power of a revision group whose members have different strengths, groups then make and share a list of revision suggestions strategies for student samples from this website.

Activity #5:
Practice Scoring of Student Samples

Learning to score student writing samples, using our state's writing rubric, is an incredibly valuable activity. In Nevada, we have discovered that teachers who are also scorers have some of the best classroom strategies for improving student writing

The Activity: Using the rubrics and the annotated student samples featured on WritingFix's Nevada's Writing Examination homepage, teachers learn to apply the rubrics to actual student writing samples. Once teachers have practiced with the annotated samples we provide, they score an actual set of papers brought in by one of the class's participants.

Activity #6:
6-Trait Trading Cards

Dena admits to never becoming tired of creating new classroom resources that center around the 6 traits. One of her newest ideas is 6-Trait Trading Cards, which she shares through an activity at the inservice class. Inspired by the Harry Potter books, this activity requires you to imagine that there's a school called Hog-Writes Writing Academy. When you enroll in the school as a student, a "sorting hat" is placed on your head that determines in which of six houses you will be placed. The sorting hat makes its decision based on a skill from one of the traits that the student excels with. If your best skill as a writer, for example, is varying transition words, then you are sorted into the House of Sentence Fluency. Once you become a student at Hog-Writes, a trading card--with your picture on one side and facts about your best writing skill on the back--is made.

Dena is in the process of creating an entire deck of 30 trait trading cards (5 per trait), which she will make available at her website when they are completed. She is designing revision and editing games that can be played with her students to inspire them during writers workshop. Eventually, she plans to have each student design a trading card for themselves, based on their best skill as a writer.

The Activity: Teacher participants divide into small groups of three or four members, and each group receives this packet of 6 trading cards--three completed cards and three cards still under construction. They study the finished cards, taking special note of the information on the back side of the cards.

They, then, focus their attention to the three under-construction trading cards in the packet, and they choose one of the three to work together to complete. As a group, they create the four sentences and the one piece of feedback the back of the card asks for.

On a large piece of chart paper, they publish the information that would be on the backside of the card they have designed, and they share it whole group.

WritingFix's Homepages for each of the 6 Traits
(the descriptions below come from WritingFix's Building with the Traits Poster Set)

WritingFix's
Idea Development Homepage

access dozens and dozens of lessons, prompts and resources for idea development

Like the foundation of a house, idea development serves as the solid base on which a good piece of writing rests. If you start with a solid idea, your writing can grow as big as you want. At WritingFix's Idea Development Homepage, teachers can find mentor text suggestions, skill-specific lessons and prompts that will help your students explore (with depth) the trait of idea development.

WritingFix's
Conventions Homepage

access dozens and dozens of lessons, prompts and resources for conventions

The roof of a house—though planned from the beginning—is not built first. Think about conventions near the end of your writing process. At WritingFix's Conventions Homepage, teachers will find mentor text suggestions, skill-specific lessons and prompts that will help your students explore (with depth) the trait of conventions.



WritingFix's
Voice Homepage

access dozens and dozens of lessons, prompts and resources for voice

The author’s voice —a.k.a. you!—should be present in every piece of writing you make. Sometimes your presence needs to be strong, but sometimes it should be kept subtle. How will you ensure that your reader recognizes this as your writing? At WritingFix's Voice Homepage, teachers can find mentor text suggestions, skill-specific lessons and prompts that will help your students explore (with depth) the trait of voice.

 

WritingFix's
Organization Homepage

access dozens and dozens of lessons, prompts and resources for organization

Organization is the structure of writing. Just as a house has an entrance, an exit, hallways that connect, and a sensible layout, so too does a piece of good writing. Blueprints are drawn before a house is built; writing should be “blue-printed” too! At WritingFix's Organization Homepage, teachers can find mentor text suggestions, skill-specific lessons and prompts that will help your students explore (with depth) the trait of organization.


WritingFix's
Sentence Fluency Homepage

access dozens and dozens of lessons, prompts and resources for sentence fluency

Just as white clouds float peacefully in the sky, or thunder clouds arrive with alarm, sentences and phrases float through a piece of writing. Do you want your sentence fluency to be subtle or alarming? At WritingFix's Sentence Fluency Homepage, teachers can find mentor text suggestions, skill-specific lessons and prompts that will help your students explore (with depth) the trait of sentence fluency.

WritingFix's
Word Choice Homepage

access dozens and dozens of lessons, prompts and resources for word choice

Word Choice —like the sun in the sky—can accomplish many things: comfort or sunburn, thirst or relaxation. The words you choose to include in your writing have profound impact on your reader. At WritingFix's Word Choice Homepage, teachers can find mentor text suggestions, skill-specific lessons and prompts that will help your students explore (with depth) the trait of word choice.

Eighteen Complimentary Lessons and Resources from the NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide:
(order your own copy of the complete guide by clicking here)

From our Going Deep Guide... a lesson and two resources focused on
Idea Development
(appropriate for 4th grade and up)

Visit our Traits in the Primary Classroom page for writing lessons and prompts for younger writers.

A Lesson: Using Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust as a model of great setting descriptions (as well as Patricia MacLachlan's All the Places to Love), this lesson focuses on creating memorable setting details, which is a sub-skill of Idea Development.  Click here (or on the book cover) to view and print this complimentary PDF lesson.

A Resource: For meaningful response and revision, use WritingFix's Idea Development Revision Post-Its between students' rough and second drafts.

Another Resource: Eight Questions that Encourage Unique Approaches to Writing Stories...here is a one-page resource that encourages originality after a student has a story idea.

From our Going Deep Guide... a lesson and two resources focused on
Conventions
(appropriate for 3rd grade and up)

Visit our Traits in the Primary Classroom page for writing lessons and prompts for younger writers.

A Lesson: Using Robin Pulver's Punctuation Takes A Vacation as its "muse," this lesson has students creatively play with punctuation by personifying it, which helps students discover Conventional wisdom in a more interesting way than with punctuation drills and worksheets.  Click here (or on the book cover above) to access and print this complimentary PDF lesson.

A Resource: For meaningful editing, use WritingFix's Conventions Editing Post-Its after students have written a second draft.

Another Resource: Grocery Spelling List... here are some engaging activities for students independently working on weekly spelling words.


From our Going Deep Guide... a lesson and two resources focused on
Voice
(appropriate for 5th grade and up)

Visit our Traits in the Primary Classroom page for writing lessons and prompts for younger writers.

A Lesson: Using Katie DiCamillo's Because of Winn Dixie as a model of voice-filled writing, this lesson focuses on writing from the voice of a character who has an interesting perspective, which is a sub-skill of the Voice Trait.  Click here (or on the book cover) to access and print this complimentary PDF lesson.

A Resource: For meaningful response and revision, use WritingFix's Voice Revision Post-Its between students' rough and second drafts.

Another Resource: Faces of Emotion... here's a one-page resource for students' notebooks; students can choose emotions or moods to try to convey in their writing.

From our Going Deep Guide... a lesson and two resources focused on
Organization
(appropriate for 4th grade and up)

Visit our Traits in the Primary Classroom page for writing lessons and prompts for younger writers.

A Lesson: Using Ruby Bridge's Through My Eyes as a model of well-organized writing, this lesson focuses on pre-thinking purposeful paragraphs, which is a sub-skill of the Organization Trait.  Click here (or on the book cover) to access and print this free PDF lesson.

A Resource: For meaningful response and revision, use WritingFix's Organization Revision Post-Its between students' rough and second drafts.

Another Resource: Little Red Riding Hooks... here's a one-page resource that helps students explore options for beginning stories in different ways.

From our Going Deep Guide... a lesson and two resources focused on
Sentence Fluency
(appropriate for 4th grade and up)

Visit our Traits in the Primary Classroom page for writing lessons and prompts for younger writers.

A Lesson: Using both Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as models of writing with excellent sentence fluency, this lesson focuses on writing with prepositional phrases that flow, which is a sub-skill of the Sentence Fluency Trait.  Click here (or on the book cover above) to access and print this free PDF lesson.

A Resource: For meaningful response and revision, use WritingFix's Sentence Fluency Revision Post-Its between students' rough and second drafts.

Another Resource: List of Transitional Words... here's a one-page resource that categorizes a variety of transition words.

From our Going Deep Guide... a lesson and two resources focused on
Word Choice
(appropriate for 3rd grade and up)

Visit our Traits in the Primary Classroom page for writing lessons and prompts for younger writers.

A Lesson: Using Chris Van Allsburg's The Z Was Zapped as a model of word choice-filled writing, this lesson focuses on experimenting with alliteration and word play, which are a sub-skills of the Word Choice Trait.  Click here (or on the book cover) to access and print this free PDF lesson.

A Resource: For meaningful response and revision, use WritingFix's Word Choice Revision Post-Its between students' rough and second drafts.

Another Resource: 200 Breath-taking Adjectives... here's a one-page resource with interesting adjectives for students to consider using in their writing.

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