Six Traits Writing


This summer, I focused each Sunday's post on creating lists of mentor texts for each of the Six Traits of Writing, and now that we're into the school year, I'd like to bring back my weekly linky parties.  Sadly, I didn't get this post finished last night, so as you can see...the day doesn't matter! If you write a post dedicated to the writing process no matter what day of the week it is, I'd love for you to link up with me to help teachers build their writing ideas and resources.

Today, I'd like to share a few ideas on how I've helped my students with gathering ideas and with organization.  This year, I've had my students use the Four-Square plan to put together five paragraph essays and stories.  I've stuck with Four Square planning because I want them to become proficient at utilizing it as a tool.  We will branch off to other planning models later in the year. 

When we first began, I used {this powerpoint} to introduce how to map out their writing ideas. We've worked together as a group with shared writing projects for modeling and in paired projects where students teamed to write a paper together. Since many of my students struggle with reading and writing, I encourage peer and teacher/student conferencing throughout the writing process to check/discuss progress.  Along with process writing, I also include informal writing opportunities in response to reading.  

As we've worked through this process, I have found a few handouts very helpful to my students. The first is a listing of hook options.  {This presentation} helped me introduce the hook options, and {this handout} has been a reference sheet for them as we've tackled new writing prompts. My students have enjoyed trying new options, and these have really helped them keep to a central idea.

Another issue my students have struggled with has been transitioning between paragraphs.  With Four Square, we've placed the transition words at the top of each box.  This ensures that my students know exactly when to move to a new paragraph and how to start it.  It has taken practice, but they're getting much better at recognizing when to move to a new line. This is the handout they keep in their writing binders.  
Well, I hope you've enjoyed the ideas I've shared.  I will end with sharing one last tip.  With my groups, I try to tie our writing prompts to literature. With this prompt, I used the classic book, The Emperor's New Clothes. My students really enjoyed writing these stories, and with this one, I gave them the transition words and helped them map out the story.  We talked about writing in chronological order and how important transition words are with showing organization.  I hope your students enjoy this prompt like mine did. 

I can't wait to read your writing tips, so I hope you'll link up with me. Until next time, happy reading!



8 comments

  1. What a wonderful post- very detailed. My students are really struggling this year with their writing. I used to use 4-square years ago; I need to dig it back out. Thanks for the reminder. I really love the "invisible clothes" prompt. It is a very creating and fun topic.

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    1. Ah thanks, Sara! We had a lot of fun with it. It's actually a state writing prompt, so if I'm lucky, it will be the prompt my students get this year! :-) I hope I have a few link up because I'd love to see other ideas too. Let's face it...with kids who struggle, it's nice to have a huge "file cabinet" of ideas.

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  2. This is an excellent post, Carla! I have saved all of your presentations and tips. Thanks so much!
    -Lisa
    Grade 4 Buzz

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    1. Thanks Lisa. So nice to hear. I'd love it if you want to link up.

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  3. great idea carla! thanks for letting me share!! =)

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    1. I'm glad you did. I left you a note on your blog. I thought you might want to put the link back button on your post so that your followers can see what we shared too. :-)

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  4. I am loving the sound of the 4 square writing strategy Carla - and thanks so much for sharing the links to the powerpoints etc...this was a fabulous post!!! Thank you :) Kylie

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    1. Four Square works so well for my students...better than the Hamburger model or outlining. It just makes sense to them. I'm working with them on elaboration and varying of sentences now. Time will tell, but I can't wait to compare writing piece #1 with the last piece...so exciting.

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