The Writer's Handbook

Some Definitions used in six Traits Writing

What is a rubric?

  • A ‘rubric’ is a scoring guide. I  use a 5 point rubric for scoring writers’ work.

  • It consists of a set of criteria that describe what expectations are being assessed and evaluated. It also includes descriptions of levels of quality used to evaluate students’ work or to guide students to desired performance levels.


What is a ‘trait’?

  • A trait is a quality or characteristic necessary to successful and meaningful writing.

  • The traits of good writing are: voice, word choice, ideas and content, organization, sentence fluency, correct usage of conventions, and finally how the writing is Presented.

The traits of good writing include


A clear point, message, theme or storyline, backed by important, carefully chosen words and details using supportive information.

Word Choice

Language, phrasing, and the skill for choosing  ‘just right’ words to get the message across.


How a piece of writing is structured and ordered, so that the reader easily follows the author's meaning.


The fingerprints of the writer and his/her special way of saying things. The Personality of the writer shines through.

Sentence Fluency

The flow of the words as they are read aloud. The rhythm and sound of the words.


Editorial correctness and attention to any detail a copy editor would including spelling, grammar, capitalization, usage, paragraphing indentation, and rules of correctness.

The forms of Writing

  • Narrative writing: tells a personal experience or story and always includes characters, setting, and plot (examples: short stories, journals)

  • Descriptive writing: creates a vivid image in the reader’s mind and uses precise details to paint “word pictures” for the reader (example: menu, travel brochure, poster)

  • Expository writing: informs, explains, clarifies, or defines (examples: research paper, essay, report)

  • Poetry: Poetic writing is a written art form that helps the writer express an imaginative awareness and arranged to create a specific emotional response sometimes employing the use of repetition, meter, and rhyme.

  • Persuasive writing: informs and attempts to convince the reader to take the same stand (examples: movie review, restaurant critique, letter to the editor, editorial)

  • Technical writing: uses research to present specialized information, but just because it is technical does not mean it has to be flat and dull (examples: a VCR manual, driver’s manual, a legal document, a cookbook)quote by  Ralph Fletcher 

  • Business writing: provides information in a way that is clear, well-organized, efficient, and usually answers a question, summarizes work completed or proposes new strategies (examples: memo, proposal, long range plan, business letter)


Writing is a Process

Prewriting Stage

Think, List, Observe, Experience, Brainstorm, Research (Gather Evidence and Information), Select topic, Collect Vocabulary


Rough Drafting Stage

Take notes, Focus on content, Double space, Discuss, Seek assistance. Use thesaurus, dictionary, spell check on computer, correct usage books.

Editing Stage

Revise, Rethink, Rewrite, Read aloud, Seek response from others, Focus on content, Check for meaning, Check for adherence to six traits, Make changes (additions, deletions), Focus on mechanical correctness

Final Draft – Publishing Stage

Check for proper format (newspaper, letter, essay, etc.), Share product with appropriate audience, Polish and recopy, Focus on format and appearance. Seek feedback and reflection


Writing Territories

How to use your writing Territories. It is up to you to decide on the form your writing will take.

For example. If you look at the writing territories above.

  • The author could write the recipe and method for the marshmallow taffy, put on an index card - rough copy first. The author would have to follow the correct format for recipes.
  • The next thing this author could do is write a letter to his/her dad explaining what it means to him/her to share time together.
  • For the hockey topic this author could write a free verse poem about his/her conflicted feelings about hockey practice. [better to narrow the topic down]
  • For the topic about the dog this author may write a memoir about the day the dog almost drowned.

Once the author has four rough drafts it will be time to choose one to hand in to the teacher who will evaluate it. If you choose the recipe one, I would ask  you to write out a few for friends and one for the teacher. I would judge these as a group.  The rest would only need one good copy. All topics should be typed and a page long for full marks. If you have to write these out, make sure to use unlined paper and pen!

My Writing Territories

  • Making marshmallow taffy with my little brother.
  • Music-how it always seems that if you don't like the 'right music' friends will hate you.
  • Looking after my sister's kid.
  • How I go to watch "The Moosehead Game" every Friday with Dad.
  • My fear of falling off a cliff.
  • Singing and playing my guitar. What it means to me.
  • Baking cookies with my Grand'Mere.
  • Hockey: Love and Hate relationship
  • Soccer
  • Justin Bieber                                    
  • Sidney Crosby
  • Candy my dog in the swimming pool
  • The day I lost my front tooth
  • Losing Grand Pere
  • The first man to settle in my area.



Six Trait Self Evaluation

Rank from 1 (low) to 5 (high) these skills in your draft: Use to self-edit

Sentence Fluency Revision

____ My sentence mostly begin with different words.

____ I use simple and complex sentences.

___ I use a variety of transitional words when I write.

____ If I read aloud, I hear a rhythm in my sentences.

____ If I repeated anything, I did it for effect.

Organization Revision

____ My introduction grabs the reader's attention.

____ My conclusion links back to my introduction.

____ I used transition words to move from idea to idea.

____ Paragraphs show:  my sub-topics begin and end.

____ My title reflects my entire draft.

Word Choice Revision

____ My adjectives are excellent and thoughtful.

____ I use a good balance of action and linking verbs.

____ My nouns are precise; I don't overuse pronouns.

____ It is clear that I take risks with new words.

____ I use a few color and texture words to describe.

Idea Development Revision

____ I used a balance of showing and telling.

____ My details try to paint a picture in the reader's

____ I took a unique approach when writing this topic.

____ I stayed on topic throughout the entire writing.

____ My theme/message is clear to my reader.

Voice Revision

____ I really tried to show passion about my topic.

____ If read aloud, it sounds like me- what I'd say.

____ I wrote in a way to help my audience understand.

____ I captured a tone or mood with my words.

____ Any use of humor or sarcasm is appropriate.

Conventions Editing [Self]

____ I checked my second draft  for spelling errors.

____  I checked my second draft for "end punctuation"

____ I checked my second draft for "internal" errors.

____ I had my second draft checked for capitalization.

____ I checked for grammatical errors.


____ The text is easy to read whether typed or handwritten.

______ The format suits the purpose, and invites the reader into the text.                              

______ Fonts are limited to two typefaces on a page.

______ The use of  formatting allows the reader to access information easily. (font,bullets etc)

______ There is a clear purpose for combining text and graphics ( charts, graphs, tables)

______ The font, size and style are appropriate and support the message.

______ Spacing supports readability.

______ The text is not crowded - white space enhances readability.

______ The information is clear to the reader.

______ The alignment between text and visuals is clearly represented.

 ______  Presentation is creative and original in design.