Strategies for Teaching the 6 Traits

Strategies for Ideas

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Joan Matuga

  • Students need to brainstorm. If it is a factual report, the students need to do research. If it is their feelings, or an everyday happening, they need to think about their experience and relive it prior to rushing to paper.
  • Students need to think about their audience. Why are they writing this piece? Who are they talking to? What is the main thing that they want to say?
  • Students must narrow their focus to one story, one event. If they want to write more, then they write a different story; in effect, writing a series.
  • Prior to writing, students need to do some planning. A web helps them organize their thoughts. As part of the web, they include descriptive words they might want to use. For example, if they are writing about their dog getting lost, one circle in the web might have "dog" Descriptive words underneath it might be Cocker Spaniel, nervous, chocolate-colored, friendly, water-loving, Hailey, always chewing on something, small,... They might not use all these things in their story, but it gives them some words to "chew" on when writing.
  • Students need to address these things in their writing: who, what, when, where, why, how. If these things are in the web, they will be in the story. Another frame that students can use in writing stories is a filmstrip with 6 frames. The first frame is the beginning, the next two are rising actions, the fourth and fifth are the culminating problem, and the sixth is the resolution.

Joan Matuga

  • Students can help generate some type of word bank that is permanently posted for them to use. It's fun to generate the words together, and keep adding to the list as students encounter new words. Our receptive vocabulary is far larger than the one we actually use.
  • See the list of words which can be used in place of "went."

Deb Weissman

    Potato Descriptions:
  • Give each student a potato which has been labeled with a small numbered sticker. Keep a record of who has which potato.
  • Challenge students to write as complete a description of their potato as they can. They may not mention the numbered sticker in their description. Collect the descriptions and the potatoes.
  • Next, display the potatoes, labeled side hidden, and ask students to try to match the potatoes with the descriptions. You could also replace the numbered labels with new labels, and then let students handle the potatoes. It helps children think about tactile details! There is a higher success rate for potato identification.
  • After this activity, discuss the difficulties students had with too-general details.

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