Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Six Traits of Writing Introducing (IDEAS/THEME)

S. Romero

As teachers, we all know that modeling good writing is essential for students of all grade levels. Writing is a developmental process that should begin from kindergarten on up. In order for our students to become good writers, they must understand that a good piece of writing must include six important ingredients: Ideas (theme), organization, word choice, voice, accurate conventions, and sentence fluency.  One of the most difficult traits students struggle with is what to write about, how to stay on topic, add details to clarify their writing and keep it interesting. (IDEA/THEME). 

Before modeling this lesson, I remind my students that good writers write what they know! I tell them, “If you write what you know, your writing will flow!” I begin by drawing a large “Detail Flower” on chart paper. (See below)
In the middle of the flower, I write our school name, which will be our theme since we are all familiar with that topic. I remind my students that when writing about a particular topic/theme, they should include lots of details of that particular topic which helps demonstrate to the reader the central idea of their writing.  We then start adding our details to our “detail flower” and write those details on the flower’s petals. We emphasize that our details must be solely focused on the topic. This is a good way to model and remind students to stay on topic. If they start to get off topic, they can go back and look at their “detail flower” to keep them on track. We then take the information from our flower and create a writing piece about our school.

The detailed flower will help students gain the understanding of how to identify the central idea of a story during a read aloud or when reading independently. They will listen for the details or look for the details in the story and begin to narrow down the stories central idea/theme.  

After each mini-lesson, I give my students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned. I hand them their own mini “detail flower” graphic organizer. They choose a topic of their choice and start filling in their own “detail flower”.  The completed flower will guide them in their writing. Below is an example of the information one of my students included in his flower. He wrote about his dog, Manchito.

Detail Flower                                                         Blackline Master

I also use this flower to model the trait: organization. This graphic organizer not only helps the student stay on topic, but they can number each petal to help organize their writing as they go! As we continue to visit each of the six traits of writing, I create an anchor chart with the information we learned for each trait as a resource my students can refer to. Here is an example of poster similar to what I hang in my classroom.

How do you teach the traits of writing? Share some ideas! I’d love to hear what you are doing that works!

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