The 6 Traits of Writing: Planning for Assessment. Presented by Jen Kohan, Minnetonka Writing Coach. Go ahead and get started on the GREEN SURVEY. Introductions. THINK about your assessments WRITE down the TOP THREE qualities you look for in a final product
The 6 Traits of Writing:Planning for Assessment
Jen Kohan, Minnetonka Writing Coach
Go ahead and get started on the GREEN SURVEY. . .
THINK about your assessments
WRITE down the TOP THREE qualities you look for in a final product
PAIR up to determine the top three qualities assessed
SHARE your name, content/grade level, and top three assessment categories
Originated in Oregon in the 1980s
Vicki Spandel, NWREL researchers, and 17 teachers
Purpose: to develop a consistent vocabulary for defining good writing/writing instruction; to create an assessment rubric to be used across all grade levels
Evaluated thousands of papers (all grade levels) and identified “common characteristics of good writing”
Those qualities became the “six traits”
Routine and structured discussions
Prerequisite skill to writing
Engaging: no passivity allowed
Provides non-threatening practice
Teaches discussion etiquette
My teacher has asked me to make predictions/form hypotheses about ______________. The things I see in the photographs include _______________. (Add a few sentences of description and/or tell what you think it is.) I think we are going to study this because __________________. I would also like to learn about _______________________. These are my initial predictions/hypotheses.
It provides a common language for teachers and students to use in teaching and learning about the craft of writing.
It provides consistency in writing assessment and a shared vocabulary for giving feedback to students.
It provides a guiding focus for writing instruction and the tools students need to revise their own writing.
Defines good writing in a specific way for the teacher and the student
Provides a way to delineate areas of individual strengths and areas of challenge
Allows for greater consistency and accuracy in assessment
Provides a common vocabulary for vertical and horizontal alignment of instruction
Develops all of the traits evaluated in state assessment
Provides a clear link between reading and writing
Enables students to become self-assessors
Has clear criteria
Allows opportunities for revision and assessment
Sensitive to student developmental needs
Clear criteria shared with students before writing
Models of writing that exemplify criteria
Process and product oriented
Formative tasks before summative tasks
I always did well on essay tests. Just put everything you know on there, maybe you’ll hit it. And then you get the paper back from the teacher and she’s written just one word across the top of the page, “vague.” I thought “vague” was kind of vague. I’d write underneath it “unclear,” and send it back. She’d return it to me, “ambiguous.” I’d send it back to her, “cloudy.” We’re still corresponding to this day ... “hazy” ... “muddy” ...
~Jerry Seinfeld, SeinLanguage
The 6-Trait rubrics can be used by: Self, peer, teacher
To assess: A single trait, a group of traits, all the traits
The 6-Trait rubrics can also be used as:
Assessment is not the end of the writing process.
Read your sample:
“If the amount kids write is limited by what teachers have time to grade, there’s no way they’ll write enough to learn curriculum content.”
For discussion at your tables:
What is our current practice?
What can we STOP doing?
What should we do MORE of?
Who needs to do what? (responsibilities)
By when (timelines and deadlines)
What resources are needed?
Identify desired results
Determine acceptable evidence
Plan experiences and instruction
Material studied during unit, but unlikely to be emphasized beyond this unit
Material related to what student know and should be able to do as a result of unit (facts, concepts, principles, skills)
Big ideas and abstract concepts within key curricular areas that students will revisit again and again
“Good assessment always begins with a vision of success.”
Student-Centered Classroom Assessment
When we understand we:
Think like an ASSESSOR
What would be sufficient and revealing evidence of understanding?
How will I be able to distinguish between those who really understand and those who don’t (though they may seem to)?
Against what criteria will I distinguish work?
What misunderstandings are likely? How will I check for these?
“We must constantly remind ourselves that the ultimate purpose of evaluation is to enable students to evaluate themselves.”
Try putting the rubric puzzle together . . .
What do we notice?
Provide students with the rubric BEFORE they write
Spend time practicing with descriptors
Balance your point values (consider using a Marzano scale)
Practice scoring with models and non-models in class
Ask students yes/no questions as they look at the rubric
“Assessment is not the private property of teachers. Kids can learn to evaluate their own writing. They must take part in this . . . it is central to the growth of writing. Even before they write, they need to know about what makes writing strong or effective. And they need to know the criteria by which their own writing will be judged.”
~ Marjorie Frank
Writing to Learn
(diagnostic + expressive)
Writing in the Disciplines
Content-specific products (labs, recipes, stories, dialogues, etc.)
For students to arrive at good content, we must help them:
“When I was in school I thought details were just extra words to add in a story to make it better. I thought detail was decoration or wallpaper . . . Details are not wallpaper; they are walls.”
Strategies for effective organization include:
Choose a short piece of text—a poem, a magazine article, a short story, etc.
Cut the text into pieces so students can move them around like a puzzle.
Ask students, in groups, to put the parts in order. Which comes first, second, third, last? How do you know?
If students disagree, discuss the different ways students have organized the parts. Are they logical and effective?
Voice In, Voice Out: Give students a piece of text that lacks voice (instruction manual, textbook, memo, etc.) and invite them to add as much voice as possible. Read the two versions aloud and discuss the differences. Try it the other way, too—have students remove the voice from a strong piece of writing.
“The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time.”
~William Zinsser, On Writing Well
Ask each student to write a simple sentence of 4-5 words at the top of a sheet of paper.
(Example: Matthew ate a pizza.)
Students pass the paper to the next student who must add or change one element to make the sentence more specific and interesting.
After the paper has been passed to 10-12 people, it is returned to the original owner.
Students write their revised sentences on the board for all to see.
Teaching students the correct use of conventions includes lessons that focus on:
Get a good sense of what students know and what they still need to learn.
Teach the skills that are developmentally appropriate for students to add to their repertoire of conventions.
Allow for plenty of practice, time to experiment, and opportunities to apply the new skills in their writing.
Hold students accountable for the specific skills for which they have an understanding.
Use wall charts and mentor texts.
“The writing process is a means to an end and not an end in itself.”
Establish a writing community in your classroom based on the whole writing process.
Focus your mini-lessons, assessment, and revision on the traits, preferably one at a time.
Use the vocabulary of the traits when reading and discussing texts.
“We’re teaching our students to write, not to trait.” (Ruth Culham, 6+1 Traits of Writing)
“Think of how many teachers you had who actually helped you with your writing. Most people can name one or two. I say to teachers, ‘Be that one teacher for a child.’”
Culham, Ruth. 6+1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide. New York: Scholastic, 2003.
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. http://www.nwrel.org/assessment/
Spandel, Vicki. Creating Writers Through 6-Trait Writing Assessment and Instruction. 3rd ed. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 2001.
Spandel, Vicki. “Write Traits: 6-Trait Instruction and Assessment.” San Antonio. 24-26 Oct. 2005.