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Marci Myers

© 2002

Action Research:

The Writing Process: Using the Six Traits

The writing process is critical to the development of the student's ability to write organized and coherent written products. There are a variety of definitions of this process but all indicate that students must become involved in the assessment of their writing in order to effectively increase their proficiency.

In creating a written document for judgement, the process of assessment and evaluation needs to be interactive with students moving in to the role of self-assessor. The use of a variety of techniques and strategies can be taught which will encourage students to be confident in sharing their work with peers. Studies which began in 1984 show that developing writers who were involved in pursuing definite goals, were most successful in writing responses to those goals.

The current standards emphasize that writing is a way of learning and knowing. Self-Assessment models are now appearing which assist the teacher in developing methods to achieve these goals. One of those self assessment models is the use of the 6 Traits of writing. It is a method of assessment whereby writers have constructed a format to describe writing. It is currently being well received as a model to promote the ability of the writer to ensure what we assess is important.

What I Already Know
From the research, I found several studies, which encourage the use of the rubrics of the six traits with grade five students. The study indicates those students

Why I am interested in this topic
In my current position, I assist struggling readers and writers in improving these two critical skills.. I was interested in developing a method to introduce more strategies in the peer conference group which wold work at the intermediate level. Currently intermediate peers do not discuss the use of voice, which is one of the six traits identified by this method of assessment. I will use this study to acquaint myself with this new assessment technique. It is also important to introduce but not necessarily require mastery of the trait at this level.

What I want to know
In the peer group portion of the writer's workshop in my classroom I often introduce strategies to share work with groups, which change often in the quarter. It is helpful to practice strategies for a minimum of fifteen times I was particularly interested in seeing if the strategy of voice could be used with fifth graders this year. I further want to record their behaviors and see if they can follow the voice rubric independently from my coaching.

What I have Already learned
I know these items about the writing process
1. It must be interactive
2. It must be repeated
3. It has many steps that challenge one to generate ideas and develop thorough products.

I have learned this about the 6-trait process
1. It is a method for students to assess themselves in six or seven areas.
2. It requires a background knowledge of good writing skills
3. It has a specific rubric
4. There are procedure cards, which will work with my existing techniques in this type of a writer's workshop.

The Research Plan:
A.WEEK 1 Introduce the Six Traits
Students can identify the descriptors with a prepared text

B.WEEK 2 Introduce the rubric for evaluation of voice in writing groups
Students orally ask others to use the rubric of voice
Student's color code their use of voice on a draft.
Students use the rubric in-group of three

C.WEEK 3 Students discover the use of voice in poems or two-part poetry
Students use the voice rubric and color code drafts
Students meet in conference groups to use the trait of voice

D.WEEK 4 Students listen to material and give the piece a rubric rating of Voice
Students listen to a poem and accurately code the use of voice with a peer

What I still need to Discover
• From the book Why Johnny Can't Write: Chapter 4
- What were the author's arguments against process writing ?
- Do I agree with this position ? What is a reasonable position?

• From the book The Writing Process: Revisiting our Stories:
- How can one use a process diagram? Page 9
- How can the teacher be a mentor in this writers workshop? P. 149
- Can an effective writing process and trait assessment be introduced quickly? P.2
- Tell me about the definitions of the writing process? P.6

• From the book: Writing Their Way
- Will the use of letter writing encourage students to develop voice in their writings? Chaper 18
- Can I use greeting cards to have students try a variety of voices in their drafts Chapter 18

• From the Book: Creative Writing Through Six Trait Writing Assessments
- What methods are appropriate to teach students to make coaching a top priority in peer groups?
- Can I name three ways to coach students to be expressive and show emotion?

Action Research Results Summary
• Research Expectations;
- I predict that grade five students will be interested in listening to their voice and make efforts to show a variety of salad
- I assume not all readers will be able to move ahead and self evaluate without more practice
- The behaviors will be assessed when the students listen to a story and use the rubric.

Limitations of the Research
- The age of the students may indicate that the struggling reader cannot hear the style changes which this method
- The amount of practice needs to be much more complex at this age.
- The ability to write narrative or drafts with voice may need to be a pre requisite before self-assessment.
- The use of more reading material may or may not be available.
- The struggling reader or writer will need more exposure with auditory examples than the developmental reader or writer.
- Peer groups are often just forming in the beginning of the year. The use of the trait will need to be longer at this age level than at an older grade level.
- The standard rubric may not be appropriate for this group.

Arter, J. (1994). The Impact of Training Students to be Self Assors of Writing (ED-370975). New Orleans: American Educational Research Association.

Barnes, M., and Weinhold. (1997). Writing process revisited: sharing our stories. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English.

Berner, D. (1994). The Writing Process : An Effective Approach to Writing Instruction in the Elementary Classroom. Unpublished Curriculum and Instruction, Bethel College, St. Paul.

Calkins, L. M. (1986). The Art of Teaching. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

Colantone, L., Cunningham - Wetmore, Melanie, Dreznes, Jennifer. (1998). Improving Creative Writing. Unpublished Master Thesis, St. Xavier University, Chicago.

Goldstein, A. (1996). Can Students Benefit from Process Writing. National Center for Educational Statistics NAEP FACTS, 1(April, 1996), 7.

Jancola, L. (2002, July, 1999). What Is 6 Trait?, [Internet]. Kent School District. Available: [link no longer works] [2002, June 20, 2002].

Linden Myra J., W., Arthur. (1990). Why Johnny Can't Write : how to improve writing skills. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.,.

Lutjeharms, J. E. (2000). Stars: School Based, Teacher Lead, Assessment and Reporting System (Writing Assessment ). Lincoln: Nebraska Department of Education.

Magnuson, M. (1995). Teaching A Process Oriented Approach to Writing. Unpublished Master of Education, Bethel College, St. Paul.

Norshore. (2002). Six-trait Scoring Guide #. Available: [link no longer works] [2002, July 20, 2002].

Spandel, V. (2001). Creating Writers : through 6-trait writing assessment and instruction (Third ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

Stillman, P. (1984). Writing Your Way. Upper Montclair: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc.


Creative writing:

© Marceille Myers. July 2002 All rights reserved.
This Excerpt from the book approved for use on the MWP website

The Apple Tree
Stories of People, Places, and Feelings. “In their own words…”

Journal Entry: 6/18/02 Evening Watch:
J. Thomas. Proprietor East Acre Farms Medaryville Indiana

This evening as I drink my last cup of coffee, I notice that the sky gives some hope that rain will water my dusty crops. Better get started early tomorrow at sun up . got to get done before the down pour. A gentle breeze and full cloud cover allows me to make this prediction that mid morning or afternoon showers will wet the crops, I should have enough time to continue cultivating and fertilizing the northwest corner of the farm tomorrow. It will be so good to get that field done and the crops are so in need of rain. It’s been a spell since we’ve had a good soaker. I hear the birds still twillin, even at this late hour. Since I was a boy, I’ve listened for the night insect sounds and watched to see if the animals are moving, seems like they always move before a rain storm. Its very peaceful here on the back porch. I think that tonight the clouds form a night blanket for the ever revolving earth. My little part of land is just a spec of all the of sights to see on the earth. But its my farm and it has its place right here on this plot of land. I gotta remember to check the almanac and see if I’m right on the weather for this time of year. Then I’ll know the results of my prediction. If all else fails, I’ll listen to the radio and see what’s up. It’s sure been fun making weekly rain bets with J.P my best friend. All the farmers are worried about the lack of rain. I just read over this writing and I guess I too am watching the weather more often now. It’s been a tough year and I’m concerned about the price of corn this fall. Got to trust the good Lord to bring in a fair price. It’ll all work out. This time of year is when I go back to the deed of the land and look carefully at my name as owner and proprietor. That’s when I remember why I am a farmer. The deed clearly states this land was my father’s, father’s land. Now its mine. It is my purpose to care for the land and then the land will care for me. Its what I want to do, not what I have to do.

Time to close,sun up comes soon enough.

Time: 9:30