Week 2 – Six Writing Traits Lesson

This week will learn about and practice Six Writing Traits.


It’s a framework to help teachers evaluate student writing. The framework has six variables:

IDEA: a clear message, the content. Good writing shows, it does not tell. Bits of information that are often overlooked. Stimulating, interesting, surprising content.

ORGANISATION: The structure of the writing. Is it compare and contrast, point by point analysis, chronological? The story unfolds with ease. There is a beginning and an end.

VOICE: We sense there is a person writing to us, not a template. There is feeling, humor, personality.

WORD CHOICE: Does the writer use a rich, descriptive, evocative vocabulary? Or simple pedestrian words that are as interesting as a piece stale of white bread. Great words ignite images and a sensory experience in the reader’s mind. Not just a powerful vocabulary but a skill in choosing the right word for each situation.

SENTENCE FLUENCY: Sentences have rhythm just like music. We sense the easy flow with our ears and mind. Playing with long and short sentences is one way to create rhythm.

CONVENTIONS: The mechanics of writing, which includes  spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and paragraphing.

If you need a scoring rubric, here is one example.


Here is a lesson (from the Six Writing Traits website) that helps students develop an understanding of voice.

1  Read the following passage.

I was really excited about going. It would be the best day of the summer. We were going to go rafting. My mother, father, brother, and sister got to go. They were excited, too. My dad knew a lot of stuff about rafting. This would be neat. When we got to the river, it looked big. The water was moving fast. I got scared. It turned out to be fun. We ate sandwiches and drank pop. I wore a life jacket and got wet.

It was the best thing I did all summer.

2. How would you describe this short story?

3. Work in pairs to find ways to improve the voice. (scroll down to read he features of good voice).

4. Rewrite the story with your voice.


Write a descriptive story that matches the pictures in this picture prompt. Keep in mind the Six writing traits and be sure to add some voice and focus on word choice.


The task is to write a one or two paragraph story which is filled with emotion. But, and this is the hard part, you  cannot say what the emotion is. I found this writing project on a website by a writing teacher. I have changed some parts to make it a little easier for ESL students.

Here is the project.

A mother (or father) is sitting in a coffee shop. She was talking on the phone. Someone told her that her husband had just died in a car crash. Pretend you are that person. Describe what you see, what you hear, what you feel. How are the smells, the sounds? What does the coffee taste like?

Your job is describe how the person sees the world now that she has heard some very bad news. Basically, how emotion changes the way a person sees the world.



The writer speaks directly to the reader in a way that is individual, compelling, and engaging.

A. The writer connects strongly with the audience through the intriguing focus of the topic, selection of relevant details, and the use of natural, engaging language.
B. The purpose of the writing is accurately reflected in the writer’s choice of individual and compelling content, and the arrangement of ideas.
C. The writer takes a risk by the inclusion of personal details that reveal the person behind the words.
D. Expository or persuasive writing reflects a strong commitment to the topic by the careful selection of ideas that show why the reader needs to know this.
E. Narrative writing is personal and engaging, and makes you think about the author’s ideas or point of view.

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