Monday, November 20, 2017

Four Traits Writing

I just read about an interesting twist on the popular Six Traits Writing.
It's called Four Traits Writing.  Basically, it addresses one of the really outdated parts of Six Traits which is a real weakness. Six traits doesn't have a framework to address the type of writing.  All writing is considered the same and measured against the same rubriques. But this makes no sense to the students.

The problem is that students today are writing far more than most previous generations. But they are doing it as chats and texts, not as formal long form essays.  Four traits writing addresses this and provides a framework so that the audience and media are considered. Really, this comes to purpose of writing. Below is the original mateirals from 4 traits writing which could definitely and should be updated. In terms of usage, I imagine this could be integrated in writing in either:

The Types of Writing
Blending Writers Workshop
Student Writing Practice

Four-Trait Writing© is an update of a traditional approach to the learning of the craft. Under pressure to correctly create an essay to fit the rigid standardized testing guidelines, students are not usually given the opportunity to broaden their writing horizons for today’s electronically connected world.
Four-Trait Writing provides students a framework both to write successfully for today’s high stakes test and to discover writing beyond the formal essay. Students have the chance to find their voice when writing for the internet, editorials, and even dialogue.
So, what are the Four Traits of successful writing? They are:
1. Content – Story and Logic
2. Style (Sentence Variety and Structure)
3. Mechanics (Spelling, Punctuation, Capitalization Rules)
4. Media & Voice (Persuasion; Objective Journalism; Internet Writing; Dialogue: Plays and Scripts)
  • Content – Story and Logic covers the flow of a narrative and the organization of an expository essay.
  • Style discusses sentence structure, variety, and fluency and the usage of colorful, descriptive words.
  • Mechanics are the writing basics of capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Learning to use all of these properly and becoming adept at proofreading for errors in these areas, are an essential skill for the middle school writer.
  • The Media and Voice in the modern world are different from that of the past. Today’s writer needs to have a separate voice for the different media available to them. In the same day, a single writer might have to shift between writing a blog article with paragraphs with bolded key works, to a formal structured essay for a school assignment, or to a chatty commentary article for a printed magazine with a headline.
  1. Voice for Media (Persuasion) – Students are introduced to and practice writing to persuade to buy, to vote, to think in a similar fashion.
  2. Voice for Objective Journalism – Students discover the five W’s and the H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) of objective article writing for an online or hard copy publication.
  3. Voice for Internet Writing – In today’s world, students can create web pages and blog on the internet. This is quite different from any other writing they may have learned in the past as much of it is created in a more conversational tone with subheads and bullet points.
  4. Voice for Plays and Scripts – Many students enjoy using their imaginations and creative voice. Here, they have that chance as they write dialogue and stage directions.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


It's here, VocabularySpellingCity finally has a full sibling, writingcity. An elementary writing program.

Here's the idea. VSC has pioneered a fun low cost easy to use approach to using education. The foundational concept is to implement best practices in a way that takes advantage of technology to simplify the lives of teachers, the management of the schools, and most importantly, the education of the kids.

After years of searching, VSC found WriteStepsWriting which is a great writing program which will form the bones of WritingCity.

What is WriteStepsWriting? It is a writing workshop approach to teaching writing with easy to use daily lessons plans for all of elementary school.  The daily mini lessons can be delivered by the teacher or played with the videos. The WritingCity videos work especially well when teachers are using literacy centers and one center is focused on writing where the students have the daily mini lesson before doing their work.

WritingCity is also popular and effective because of the examplar text. Only really student examples are used and they are presented as is so students are not intimidated by professional examples which don't resemble anything they are ready to produce. The friendly examples of other students' writing which gets lavishly praised and analysed encourages students to go ahead and give it a try!

On another note, VSC also has a half sister site which is Science4Us. It will become a full sibling once it gets rebranded and extended for 3rd-5th.  Much of the interesting science work is discussed on the US Science Education website such as here, studying with bicycles.

Elementary Writing: The Writers Workshop

It seems like Writer's Workshop and Six Traits Writing are two popular approaches to learning to write in schools.  But how is a school ...