Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

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6 Traits of Writing

No More Phonics and Spelling Worksheet

   no more

By Jennifer Palmer, Marcia Invernizzi, Curry School of Education, Edited by Nell K. Duke, Edited by Ellin Oliver Keene

This was one of my great finds of the summer. I read it twice. It made me reflect on my practice. I made notes as I went along….I’ve been trying to be more concise and colourful in my note-taking…


Here are some of the thoughts I collected. The authors say plainly no more work sheets. Children need to be doing more thinking than the teacher is. (Usually with worksheets, the person who created the worksheet has done most of the thinking, but that’s another blog post!!) Children need flexible groupings for spelling, the groups need to change based on need and growth.

If you are struggling with the concept of spelling tests, read this book!!

So what can you do when you’ve thrown out the worksheets for the year? This book suggests assessing your students word knowledge regularly.  Use the Words Their Way Assessment or the Monster Test. Decide what your students need and do word sorts (open and closed), play games, have a word study notebook, have a good word wall, use lists, poetry, songs and chants. Connect the word study to what they are learning in school and to what they are reading.

I have struggled for years both as a teacher and as a parent with the concept of spelling tests…I have tried so many kinds until I gave them up for good. There are so many questions!!! What are we actually testing- spelling ability or memory recall? Do students retain the knowledge once the test is over? Should students be spending more time at home memorizing lists or should they be simply reading and writing? Is this a worthy use of my time or my students time? Am I giving weekly test because parents want them? Aren’t there better ways to assess how my students are spelling than through a weekly test?

The more I read and research, the more I say NO to worksheets NO to the weekly test.. In simple terms, in order to spell we need to understand letter sounds and words. We need to know the parts of words and how they fit together. We need to understand word meaning.

For more information on this topic read No More “Look Up The List” Vocabulary Instruction


Teaching the 6 traits with Chrysanthemum

I really Like the book Wee Can Write for teaching and introducing  the traits of writing .  I tried the following lesson  for the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Many of the lessons can be adapted to a variety of grades. Using picture books is a great way to introduce older students to the traits.

Give it a try

   Pge 24/25 Wee Can Write


Specified criterion:focused theme

Trait writing vocabulary-title

  • Chrysanthemum is the title of a story about a very special student. She loves her name!
  • I have written YOUR name on a piece of white paper with a black marker.Trace the letters of your name with a variety of colours to practice your best printing.
  • We will share our rainbow names in our “community” circle
  • You may take your name home to share with your family and tell them the story of Chrysanthemum, of course!

Trait :Organization

Specified criterion:focused theme

Trait writing vocabulary-organize,setting, events ,problems, solutions

  • I have drawn a very large flower with the empty petals on our chart paper
  • Today we are going to organize our thoughts about the story we just read,Chrysanthemum. We will include characters ,setting,important events,problems and solutions on our “flower map” of the story
  • Our class will “bloom” as we retell this story together !

Trait :Voice

Specified criterion: Take a risk

Trait writing vocabulary-audience

  • We learned in this story that Chrysanthemum loved her name
  • We will write a class book-The Nicest Names A name can tell a lot about you! Think what your name tells about you
  • Please draw a picture of yourself. Under your picture of yourself. Under your picture please complete these sentences and be ready to share with your audience in our circle
  • My name is_______________
  • My name makes me feel ___________________

Trait :Word Choice

Specified criterion: specific words

Trait writing vocabulary-words , descriptive

  • In the story Chrysanthemum , there are many words that refer to flowers and growing plants.As we reread the story listen for those words.
  • When you hear a “garden” word put your thumb up. I’ll call upon you when I see you are ready to share
  •  I am going to make a list of all the descriptive words we hear that refer to gardening, flowers or plants   ex: wilted-blossomed-pick...

Trait :Sentence Fluency

Specified criterion: sound of words

Trait writing vocabulary-syllables

  • Each of our names have syllables we can clap. Let’s clap each name in our class. Here is a rhyme to get us started

Heckedy Peggedy Bumble Bee   Can you clap your name with me?

  • Let’s practice together…
  • Repeat the rhyme with each child in the class in the community circle
  • Who in our class has the most claps? Only one clap? How many claps in the title?

Trait :Convention

Specified criterion: spelling

Trait writing vocabulary-plurals

  • Today we are going to talk about plurals. Plurals are more than one.We can make a plural by adding S , or es. Let’s see if we can add S , or es and then use these words in sentences: example- friend…..friends    kiss…..kisses
  • use the words in sentences
  • Think of a word. Can you make it plural by adding S , or es? I will record your word and the plural on the chart paper I have folded in half and labeled with S , or es at the top

A great sequel to this would be to read  The Name Jar

Cover of "Chrysanthemum"
Cover of Chrysanthemum

I will post it when I try it!!!

Wee Can Write by Carolyn McMahon & Peggy Warwick

Using the six traits   This is a fabulous book for  teaching the six traits of writing through quality mentor text. Popular Children’s literature is used to model   what   the traits are/sound like and give examples that children would enjoy learning from. I have used this book from kindergarten to grade 8 !! It is a great way to introduce the concepts of the 6 traits and reinforce them as well. Reading and discussing is such a motivating way to teach these traits to young children. It makes such a  change from the many books that have  black line masters and photocopy work sheets.

“It is a teacher’s guide organized around renowned children’s books that provide a foundation for six lessons. Within each lesson plan you will find instructions for both students and teachers. There are 36 literature titles that are easily found in any library. Each book title is divided into Summer, Fall,Winter and Spring.

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