A Balanced Early Childhood Writing Program

1. Modeled writing—This occurs when the teacher, or you at home, models writing
while the child either dictates or simply observes. During this time your child learns
by watching as an ‘expert’ shares the thinking processes used to create a written

2. Shared Writing—During shared writing the children and adult create a piece of
written work together. During this time they discuss good writing. Through adult
guidance the children discover new things they can include in their independent

3. Independent Writing—This occurs when your child writes independently, with little
direct guidance from an adult. This is their time to practice the skills they have
learned. Your child will write independently each morning at school.
4. Guided Writing—A big part of our writing instruction in 1st grade will occur during
guided writing. During this time we will learn about the writing process. We will
learn how to brainstorm and plan during the pre-writing phase, make a rough draft,
edit and publish some of our work. During our guided writing time we will also
begin to learn more about the 6+1 traits of good writing. As your child progresses
through the grades they will learn more and more about these traits.

What are the 6+1 Traits of Writing?

We know good writing when we see it, but how does it develop and how can we help
children to develop the skills they need to be a good writer? These were the questions that
sparked the research into the trait approach to teaching writing. Using the work of Paul
Diederich (as cited in Culham, 2005) researchers sorted children’s written work into
categories of ‘good’, ‘fair’ and ‘poor’ and then analyzed the characteristics that were
common to all pieces. They began to see seven common threads or traits appear. This
research formed the foundation of what is now know as the 6+1 analytical model for
assessing and teaching writing.

“Learning about the traits of writing…can’t begin too soon because they give students a way
to think and talk about writing. With a foundation for writing built on these traits, young
writers are better able to communicate with readers.” (Culman, 2005)

The six+1 trait model for teaching writing is comprised of seven key qualities that define
strong writing. These are:

1. Ideas- The meaning and development of the message of the story
2. Organization- The internal structure of the piece
3. Voice- The tone of the piece—the personal stamp that the writer brings to it
4. Word Choice-The specific vocabulary the writer uses to convey meaning
5. Sentence Fluency-The way the words and phrases flow throughout the text
6. Conventions-The mechanical correctness of the piece
7. Presentation-The overall appearance of the work

In 1st grade your child will be introduced to the six+1 trait vocabulary, and begin to explore
each trait. We will do this through mini-lessons and looking at stories that
demonstrate each trait. We will read and discuss published stories, looking at the author’s
use of the different traits. Your child will learn how to incorporate each trait into their
illustrations and then into their beginning writing.

Love Note

Throughout the year, your student will bring home a letter called a “Love Note”. This is something I do to incorporate letter writing, encourage communication between parent and student, and it can also become a memorable keepsake for you and your child. Most weeks, your student will ask you a question in the form of a letter and draw a picture to go along with it. Please have your child read it to you, and then respond (in letter form as well), on the other side. I encourage you to draw pictures and / or paste photographs next to your response. Thekids love reading what you say! When you respond, please make sure that your writing is in the same direction as your child’s, so there aren’t any upside down pages when we bind all the pages together. After you have completed your response, please send it back to school in your student’s Red Folder so I can keep them all together.

Thank you for your help in this! It is a very special way to communicatewith your student as they develop in their writing skills.