Thinking Teaching Creating

Thoughts, Tips, Ideas, and Projects from a Creative Teacher Mama

Lucy Calkins + 6 Trait Writing = Writing Teacher Heaven…Probably

Ok, so I know that neither Lucy Calkins’ Writer’s Workshop nor 6+1 Trait writing are particularly new, so I’m sure others have come to this conclusion long before I did. Several years ago I was trained in writer’s workshop, but I’ve felt for awhile now that something was missing. It’s an excellent concept: write every day, learn to stretch out small events to write about details, and everyone has stories to tell (and not every story needs to be a major event like a birthday or getting a new pet).  The thing is, I noticed that I was giving the same compliments and the same suggestions all the time, and wasn’t really sure what to do with the kids who were already pretty good writers…in first and second grade.  They had their story in sequence, details, capital letters and punctuation in the right places, strong words…I was at a loss for what to suggest.

At the very end of the school year, I read 6+1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide for the Primary Grades by Ruth Culham, and it clicked.  This is what I’ve been looking for to give me more ideas for what lessons my students needed to continue to improve, and to help me give clear and focused comments and instruction to support them.  I’d heard about 6+1 Trait here and there, and noticed books and materials in the local teacher store, but never looked at them closely.  I really wish I had.

The beauty of this match is that both are primarily philosophies about teaching writing, rather than ironclad units that must be followed page by page.  I love that you look at your students’ work to determine what to do next.  While that’s way more time consuming than, say, a quick quiz on a skill, it is so much more authentic and gives a clearer view of what a student actually does when s/he writes, rather than when they know you’re looking for a specific skill. For those teachers (like me) who sometimes feel like they’re not sure what a good next step would be for a student or the class as a whole, both of these will work together very well in terms of organizing what makes writing good, and how to break those qualities down into individual skills.  I can determine which skills my students need instruction in, and which skills are beyond the requirements for the grade, but I should keep them waiting in the wings for any students who are ready for them anyway.

I fully intend to marry these two writing philosophies together in my classroom this year.  Now I just need to find or create a rubric that combines Common Core, Lucy Calkins, and 6+1 Trait writing together.

If you have or know of a rubric that combines any of those three together, please share!  I’d love to see how others have put everything together.

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