Six Traits of Writing Model:

Teaching & Assessing


Instructor Name:          Karen Lea

Phone:                         509-891-7219

Office Hours:               8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday


Address:                      Virtual Education Software

                                    16201 E Indiana Ave, Suite 1450

                                    Spokane, WA 99216

Technical Support:        



Welcome to Six Traits of Writing Model: Teaching & Assessing, a course geared primarily for professionals (e.g., regular or special educators, instructional assistants, school psychologists, counselors) working with children and youth in any academic area.  This course focuses on why teaching writing is an essential skill for life, and gives theory and practical steps to implement the six traits of writing in any classroom.


This computer-based instruction course is a self-supporting program that provides instruction, structured practice, and evaluation all on your home or school computer.  Technical support information can be found in the Help section of your course.


Course Materials (Online)

Title:                Six Traits of Writing Model:  Teaching & Assessing

Instructor:        Karen Lea, Ph.D. 

Publisher:         Virtual Education Software, inc. 2017


Academic Integrity Statement

The structure and format of most distance-learning courses presume a high level of personal and academic integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards of academic conduct.


Academic Work

Academic work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports, tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed, in part or in whole, to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.


Aiding Honesty in Others

The individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing materials or information to another person with knowledge that these materials or information will be used improperly.


Violations of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade and subsequent loss of credit for the course.


Level of Application

This course is designed to be an informational course with application to educational settings. The analysis of how to teach writing and how to integrate techniques of writing are designed for all grade levels, all content areas.


Expected Learning Outcomes: 

As a result of this course, participants will demonstrate their ability to:

·         Analyze how to integrate teaching the elements of Six Traits of Writing

·         Integrate assessing the elements of Six Traits of Writing

·         Analyze how to integrate teaching the ideas of writing

·         Analyze how to integrate teaching the organization of writing

·         Integrate assessing writing ideas and organization of writing

·         Analyze how to integrate teaching finding voice

·         Analyze how to integrate teaching word choice

·         Integrate assessing writing voice and word choice

·         Analyze how to teach sentence fluency

·         Analyze how to teach English conventions

·         Integrate assessing sentence fluency and conventions


Course Description

This course, Six Traits of Writing Model: Teaching & Assessing, will discuss why writing is important and why teachers should include writing as often as possible in all content areas. The course will also include practical applications for assessing and teaching writing, including teaching students how to self-assess their own writing. The first chapter of this course will discuss why teaching writing is important and give you an introduction to the Six Traits of Writing Model. Through chapters 2, 3, and 4 we will discuss the elements of the Six Traits of Writing Model. Throughout those elements we will look at practical ways to use this model in your classroom.


Student Expectations 

As a student you will be expected to:

·         Complete all four information sections showing a competent understanding of the material presented in each section.

·         Complete all four section examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.  You must obtain an overall score of 70% or higher, with no individual exam score below 50%, and successfully complete ALL writing assignments to pass this course. *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete a review of any section on which your examination score was below 50%.

·         Retake any examination, after completing an information review, to increase that examination score to a minimum of 50%, making sure to also be achieving an overall exam score of a minimum 70% (maximum of three attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete all course journal article and essay writing assignments with the minimum word count shown for each writing assignment.

·         Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course.


Course Overview

Chapter 1:  Why Teach Writing?

This first chapter will focus on why teaching writing is important and the development of the Six Traits of Writing Model. Your objectives are to be able to analyze why writing is important in reading and careers, and to demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical foundations of the Six Traits of Writing Model.


Chapter 2:  Ideas & Organization

Writing is also a way to make our thinking and learning visual and understandable for other people, it gives us a vehicle to explain and refine our thoughts and ideas. In addition to these reasons writing is important, writing is also a form of entertainment. There have been many models for teaching writing, but one that has been part of the educational process for decades is the Six Traits Writing Model and that is the focus of this course. The first two elements of the Six Traits of Writing are Ideas and Organization. This chapter of the course will focus on those two elements.


Chapter 3:  Voice & Words

Now that students have an idea of what to write about and an organizational structure, educators need to help students learn to write with voice and how to choose the best words. The key is to not short change the first two steps: ideas and organization. Those might seem the most tedious, but they are also the most important in having in-depth written products. The next two elements of the Six Traits of Writing are Voice and Word Choice. This chapter of the course will focus on those two elements.


Chapter 4:  Fluency & Conventions

When we talk about sentence fluency, we are talking about the use of a variety of sentence structures to add rhythm and flow to our writing. Sentence fluency is what makes the writing pleasing to read and keeps us interested. The next two elements of the Six Traits of Writing are Sentence Fluency and Conventions. This chapter of the course will focus on those two elements, plus a discussion on writing in various content areas.



At the end of each course section, you will be expected to complete an examination designed to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times. Your last score will save, not the highest score.  After your third attempt, each examination will lock and not allow further access.  The average from your exam scores will be printed on your certificate.  However, this is not your final grade since your required writing assignments have not been reviewed.  Exceptionally written or poorly written required writing assignments, or violation of the academic integrity policy in the course syllabus, will affect your grade.  As this is a self-paced computerized instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary. You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all questions. If you try to exit the exam before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.


Writing Assignments

All assignments are reviewed and may impact your final grade.  Exceptionally or poorly written assignments, or violation of the Academic Integrity Policy (see course syllabus for policy), will affect your grade. Fifty percent of your grade is determined by your writing assignments, and your overall exam score determines the other fifty percent.  Refer to the Essay Grading Guidelines which were sent as an attachment with your original course link. You should also refer to the Course Syllabus Addendum which was sent as an attachment with your original course link, to determine if you have any writing assignments in addition to the Critical Thinking Questions (CTQ) and Journal Article Summations (JAS).  If you do, the Essay Grading Guidelines will also apply.

Your writing assignments must meet the minimum word count and are not to include the question or your final citations as part of your word count.  In other words, the question and citations are not to be used as a means to meet the minimum word count.


Critical Thinking Questions

There are four CTQs that you are required to complete. You  will need to write a minimum of 500 words (maximum 1,000) per essay. You  should explain how the information that you gained from the course will be applied and clearly convey a strong understanding of the course content as it relates to each CTQ.  To view the questions, click on REQUIRED ESSAY and choose the CTQ that you are ready to complete; this will bring up a screen where you may enter your essay.  Prior to course submission, you may go back at any point to edit your essay, but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits.


You must click SAVE before you write another essay or move on to another part of the course.

Journal Article Summations

You are required to write, in your own words, a summary on a total of three peer-reviewed or scholarly journal articles (one article per JAS), written by an author with a Ph.D., Ed.D. or similar, on the topic outlined within each JAS section in the “Required Essays” portion of the course  (blogs, abstracts, news articles or similar are not acceptable). Your article choice must relate specifically to the discussion topic listed in each individual JAS. You will choose a total of three relevant articles (one article per JAS) and write a thorough summary of the information presented in each article (you must write a minimum of  200 words with a 400 word maximum per JAS). Be sure to provide the URL or the journal name, volume, date, and any other critical information to allow the facilitator to access and review each article. 


To write your summary, click on REQUIRED ESSAYS and choose the JAS that you would like to complete. A writing program will automatically launch where you can write your summary. When you are ready to stop, click SAVE.  Prior to course submission you may go back at any point to edit your summaries but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits. For more information on the features of this assignment, please consult the HELP menu.

You must click SAVE before you write another summary or move on to another part of the course.


Instructor Description

Karen Lea holds a Ph.D. in education. Dr. Lea has fifteen years’ experience teaching at the K-12 level and another fourteen years’ experience teaching education courses at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Currently she is a coordinator for a cadre of instructional developers and project manager for aerospace online training. Dr. Lea has been professionally published over fifteen times and has served on over a dozen panels and boards, including serving on the NCATE (CAEP) Board of Examiners.


Contacting the Instructor

You may contact the instructor by emailing or calling (509) 891-7219 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. PST. Phone messages will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student, per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches, or other issues that involve the operation of the course.


Technical Questions

If you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course, please try everything twice. If the problem persists please check our support pages for FAQs and known issues at and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance then email or call (509) 891-7219.  When contacting technical support, please know your course version number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your call. 


Minimum Computer Requirements

Please refer to VESi’s website: or contact VESi if you have further questions about the compatibility of your operating system.


Refer to the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to complete that are not listed in this syllabus.


Bibliography (Suggested Readings) 


Andrade, H. L, Du, Y. and Wang, S. (2008).  Putting rubrics to the test: The effect of a model, criteria generation, and rubric-referenced self-assessment on elementary school students’ writing. Education Assessment, (27(2), 3 – 13.


Baxa, S. (2015). Enhancing students' understanding and revision of narrative writing through self-assessment and dialogue: A qualitative multi-case study. The Qualitative Report, 20(10), 1682-1708. 


Berne, J. (2016). Help students generate ideas through prewriting. Adolescent Literacy. [retrieved November 2016].


Blaine County School District. (2016). Teachers survival guide for creating successful writers.  Blaine County.


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Brookhart, S. M. (2013). How to create and use rubrics. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Alexandria, VA.


Cali, K. (2016). Conventions. Learn NC. [retrieved December 2016].


Cali, K. (2016). Style. Learn NC. [retrieved December 2016].


Chandrasegaran, A. (2013). The effect of a socio-cognitive approach to teaching writing on stance support moves and topicality in students’ expository essays. Linguistics and Education, 24(2), 101-111.


Clouse, R. W., Goodin, T., Aniello, J., McDowell, N., & McDowell, D. (2013). Leadership metaphors: Developing innovative teaching strategies. American Journal of Management, 13(1), 79-92.


Coe, M., Hanita, M., Nishioka, V., Smiley, R., and Park, O-C. (2011). An investigation of the impact of the 6+1 trait writing model on grade 5 student writing achievement, final report. 


Conal, H. (2013). Academic essay writing in the first person: A guide for undergraduates. Nursing Standard, 13(44), 38-40.


Coombe, C. (2010). Assessing foreign/second language writing ability. Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, 3(3), 178-187.


Culham, R. (2011). “Reading with a writer’s eye.” In T. Rasinski’s Rebuilding the foundation: Effective reading instruction for 21st century literacy. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.


Culham, R. (2014). The writing thief: Using mentor texts to teach the craft of writing. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


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Diederich, P. (1974). Measuring growth in English. National Council of Teachers of English.


Duke, N., Caughian, S., Juzwik, M., & Martin, N. (2013). Reading and writing genre with purpose in K-8 classrooms. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Eastman, C. A. (2013). The use of English literature in the context of work-based learning - a pedagogic case study. Higher Education, Skills and Work - Based Learning, 3(1), 62-72. 


Freese, C. (2014). Use word choice to set the mood. [retrieved December 2016].


Gillespie, A., & Graham, S. (2014). A meta-analysis of writing interventions for students with learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 80(4), 454-473. 


Gillespie, A., and Graham, S. (2011). Evidence-based practices for teaching writing. [retrieved October 2016].


Gillespie, A., Graham, S., Kiuhara, S., & Hebert, M. (2014). High school teachers’ use of writing to support students' learning: A national survey. Reading and Writing,27(6), 1043-1072.


Glencoe. (2016). Writing assessment and evaluation rubrics. New York: Glencoe.


Graham, S. & Perin, D, (2007) Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools. A report to the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


Graham, S., Capizzi, A., Harris, K. R., Hebert, M., & Morphy, P. (2014). Teaching writing to middle school students: A national survey. Reading and Writing,27(6), 1015-1042. 


Grise-Owens, E., & Crum, K. (2012). Teaching writing as a professional practice skill: A curricular case example. Journal of Social Work Education, 48(3), 517-536.


Hakuta, K. and Santos, M. (2012). Understanding language: Language, literacy, and learning in the content areas. Standard University commissioned papers.


Hauth, C., Mastropieri, M., Scruggs, T., and Regan, K. (2013). Can students with emotional and/or behavioral disabilities improve on planning and writing in the content areas of civics and mathematics? Behavioral Disorders, 38(3), 154-170.


Hoffman, A. (2011). Generating ideas for writing. University of Indiana.


Hosking, R. (2014). Why good writing skills are important in today’s workplace and tips for developing them. Executive Secretary. [retrieved October 2016].


International Literacy Association. (2016). Choose the best verb: An active and passive voice minilesson. [retrieved November 2016].


Jeong, H. (2015). Rubrics in the classroom: Do teachers really follow them? Language Testing in Asia, 5(1), 1-14.


K12 Reader. (2016). [retrieved October 2016].


Kulkarni, Wei, Le, Chia, Papadopoulos, Cheng, Koller, and Klemmer (2014). Peer and self assessment in massive online classes. Design Thinking Research, 131-168.


Livingston, M., & Fink, L. S., R.W.T. (2012). The infamy of grading rubrics. English Journal, 102(2), 108-113. 


McCully, C. (2015). Voice in literature and creative writing. University of Essex. Colchester CO4.


McKenzie, J. (1998). From start to finish. [retrieved December 2016]


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National Council of Teachers of English. (2015). Reading and writing are related. [retrieved October 2016].


National Literacy Council. (2016). How to KIT writing ideas. [retrieved November 2016].


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Northwest Regional Educational Library. (2016). History and overview of six trait writing. [retrieved October 2016].


O’Farrell, R (2016). The important of good writing skills in the workplace. [retrieved October 2016].


Orges, S. (2011). 5 ways to find your voice … in 5 voices. [retrieved November 2016].


Oxford Dictionary. (2016). Top tips for word choice. [retrieved December 2016].


Paquette, K. R. (2008). Integrating the 6+1 writing traits model with cross-age tutoring: An investigation of elementary students’ writing development. Literacy Research and Instruction, 48(1).


Peck, R. (2005). The reading-writing connection. [retrieved October 2016].


Peha, S. (2016). Be a better writer: For school, for fun, for anyone ages 10 -15. The Word Factory.


Peterson, S. S. (2014). Award-winning authors and illustrators talk about writing and teaching writing. The Reading Teacher, 67(7), 498-506.


Puranik, C. S., Al Otaiba, S., Sidler, J. F., & Greulich, L. (2014). Exploring the amount and type of writing instruction during language arts instruction in kindergarten classrooms. Reading and Writing, 27(2), 213-236. 


Roessing, L. (2009). The write to read: Response journals that increase comprehension. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.


Rosen, D. J. (2016). Websites for assessing writing. Journal of Research and Practice for Adult Literacy, Secondary, and Basic Education, 5(1), 89-91. 


Santangelo, T., Graham, S. (2015). How writing instruction, interventions, and assessment can improve student outcomes. The Bush Institute: Washington D.C.


Serravallo, J. (2012; 2013). Independent reading assessment: Fiction and nonfiction. New York: Scholastic.


Sharp, L. A. (2015) A content area instructional framework to improve students’ writing. New England Reading Association Journal, 50(2), 37-41, 92-93.


Skyline College. (2016). The writing process. [retrieved November 2016].


Smith, C. B. (2000). Successful use of the six traits in writing. [retrieved, October 2016].


Stapa, S. H., and Majid, A. H. A. (2012). The use of first language in developing ideas in second language writing. American Journal of Social Issues and Humanities, 2(3), 148-151.


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Watson, F. (2013). Business writing and career advancement. [retrieved October 2016].


Whitaker, C. (2016). Best practices in teaching writing. [retrieved October 2016].


Wilcox, K. C., Jeffery, J. V. (2014). Adolescents’ writing in the content areas: National study results. Research in the Teaching of English, 49(2), 168-176.


Writing Fix. (2016). Writing traits: Quality teaching resources for K-12. [retrieved November 2016].

Course content is updated every three years. Due to this update timeline, some URL links may no longer be active or may have changed. Please type the title of the organization into the command line of any Internet browser search window and you will be able to find whether the URL link is still active or any new link to the corresponding organization's web home page.


Updated 9/8/17  JN