Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits

Online Course 3 semester hours graduate credit
Instructor: Renee Williams
Tuition and Registration
June 15 - August 2, 2015
EDUC 653 960 Middle School Through Adult 6-Traits Writing Instruction
EDUC 654 960 PK Through Elementary 6-Traits Writing Instruction

What You Will Learn

Learn how to teach and assess writing using the 6-Traits of writing (voice, ideas, word choice, organization, sentence fluency and conventions). Learn instructional strategies and ways to integrate technology to teach and guide the writing process including revision and editing skills. 6-Traits are aligned with Common Core and state writing standards and are proven to raise test scores. Participants get extensive hands-on practice assessing a variety of student samples using the 6-Traits rubric.

Who Should Enroll?

Designed for ESL/ELL teachers, English and language arts teachers, elementary teachers, K-12 teachers interested in writing across the curriculum, special education teachers, technical and community college writing instructors, and curriculum coordinators.

You may enroll to meet your goals for professional development, continuing education, license renewal, or to complete graduate credits and transfer to another university. This course is an approved elective in the Master of Science in Education online degree program.


EDUC 653 Middle School Through Adult 6-Traits Writing Instruction   Syllabus
Concepts, instructional methods and assessment strategies for improving writing instruction, middle school through post-secondary. Self-assessment strategies, application of 6-traits, technology and software applications, and writing across the curriculum.

EDUC 654 PK Through Elementary 6-Traits Writing Instruction    Syllabus
Application of the 6-Traits theory to assessment and instruction of student writing in PK through grade 4. Study of the continuum of primary and elementary language arts skills and writing across the curriculum.


Purchase the new or used paperback or etextbook from one of the online bookstores such as amazon.com

Textbook for PK-4* teachers:
Spandel, Vicki, (2011). Creating Young Writers: Using the Six Traits to Enrich Writing Process in Primary Classrooms (3rd Edition) (Creating 6-Trait Revisers and Editors Series), Pearson Education.ISBN: 978-0132685856

Textbook for Middle School-Adult Ed teachers:
Spandel, Vicki. (2012). Creating Writers: 6 Traits, Process, Workshop, and Literature (6th Edition). Pearson. ISBN: 978-0132944106

*4th Grade Teachers, ESL, Special Ed, and teachers working in 'inclusive' classrooms will benefit from using both books.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Articulate an understanding of the historical foundations of the 6-traits writing movement and its relevance to classroom instruction.

  2. Analyze writing samples based on the critical attributes of each trait.

  3. Apply a variety of composing and revision techniques used in the writing process.

  4. Apply the 6-traits rubrics to analytically score writing samples and describe reasoning behind scoring decisions based on the point scale rubrics of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) and the Oregon Public Education Network (O.P.E.N.).

  5. Utilize online databases to practice analytical scoring for each of the 6-traits.

  6. Demonstrate effective strategies for teaching writing and differentiate 6-traits instruction based on a wide range of academic diversity including English language learners and special needs students.

  7. Redesign current writing lessons and integrate the 6-traits approach with developmentally appropriate learning activities.

  8. Analyze the impact of standardized testing on writing instruction and how 6-traits assessments prepare students for Common Core state and national writing tests.

  9. Apply collaborative learning theory, model the technique with writing classes, and demonstrate use of technology such as discussion forums, online writing centers, blogs and wikis for writing assignments.

  10. Increase the frequency of student writing and strategic integration of carefully designed writing tasks in different subject area curriculum.

  11. Write reflectively about the themes, topics, and issues involved in teaching with the 6-traits.

  12. Synthesize current research, contemporary theories, teaching strategies, and instructional technology to teach writing in content areas.

Alignment with Teaching Standards

Course objectives are aligned with the following:
Wisconsin Teaching Standards
(WI DPI) 1, 3, 7, 8, 9
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards 3 - Teachers are Responsible for Managing and Monitoring Student Learning
National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers
(NETS-T) 2, 3

No travel to campus required. Because this class is online and open to you 24/7, you may participate from your home or work computer during hours that are flexible and convenient for your work and family schedule and responsibilities.

The class is highly interactive with a significant discussion component. All discussion postings, projects and assignments will be submitted via the course discussion board and dropbox. Activities are conducted according to a schedule with specific due dates each week; there are no required "live" chat sessions.


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The School of Education reserves the right to cancel classes that do not meet minimum enrollment requirements.

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Contact Us: School of Education
Online Professional Development
University of Wisconsin - Stout Menomonie, WI 54751
Phone: 715-232-2693
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Contact Us

School of Education
Email: Online Professional Development
University of Wisconsin - Stout
Menomonie, WI 54751
Phone: 715-232-2693

Our Students Say...

"I have two bachelor degrees under my belt and countless grad classes. This class was the best, most engaging, most educational, most useful, best feedback....just wonderful.


The instructor gave feedback that I will take and keep with me for years to come. You simply couldn't have found a better teacher. I feel honored to have taken this class from him. It was truly amazing."


"I think the best thing I could have done for future students was to take this class. Writing traits has helped me refresh my teaching skills."

"I found the instructor to be very knowledgeable and helpful. He was an excellent collaborator and resource provider. But the most impressive thing was that he actually used 6-Traits in our writing projects and in his evaluations."

"We had a truly international classroom. Only about half us were teaching in the states. Several were teaching in Department of Defense Schools overseas. We were a good mix of novice and veteran teachers. The format of the class forced (I was going to use the word encouraged, but that didn't quite cover it) us to pose questions and respond to the questions of at least 3 of our classmates per assignment. This has forged some on-going professional friendships. Several of us are still continuing the sharing of lessons and ideas as well as discussions about theory and practice."

"The biggest advantage for me has been that we had to evaluate, evaluate, and evaluate some more. We used a variety of rubrics, depending on our teaching level. We rated a wide range of student work ... from third grade level through community college. These ratings were then compared with our classmates and with the experts who had rated the same pieces on the various state assessments and in other university 6-Trait courses."



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