Improving Writing Instruction (Six Easy Ways)

girl writing (blurry background)Got a fun idea for teaching writing? Share it! Post a helpful or original comment below and be entered to win a School Box gift card!

By now, many of us know what the six traits of writing are: ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice, and conventions. And we know that those are the basic traits that make up good writing.

But do we know them well enough to explain them to our third graders? How about our first graders?

It’s not always easy to present such indefinite terms to our younger students in a way that they’ll understand. So until School House Rock comes up with a great new song about them, here are some simple scripting suggestions to help you introduce the six traits of writing to your class.


Explain to students that good writing starts with good ideas.

Say: A good idea is clear, interesting and original. It makes the readers say, “Wow!” or “I never would have thought of that!” Without good ideas, your writing would not have much of a point. Your reader would be bored!


Explain to students that good writing is organized in a way that helps the reader understand the information and follow what the writer is saying.

Say: The organization of your writing is what holds everything together. It puts your ideas in an order that makes sense, and it gives your writing a strong beginning, middle and end. When your writing is not organized, your reader can grow confused and lose interest.

Word Choice

Explain to students that good writers choose their words carefully in order to get their ideas across.

Say: When you write, choose just the right words and use them correctly. Make them fun and interesting so they help your readers “see” what you are talking about. Try not to use the same words over and over again. If you don’t choose your words carefully, your reader may not understand what you’re trying to say.

Sentence Fluency

Explain to students that good writers make their writing flow by using different kinds of sentences.

Say: You want your writing to be easy to read and follow. It should flow so smoothly and sound so interesting that people want to read it aloud! When your sentences don’t flow, your writing sounds choppy and flat. Your readers would not want to read it aloud.


Explain to students that when they write, their personality, or who they are, should shine through.

Say: You want your writing to sound like you, and no one else! When you write, you show who you are through words. No matter what type of writing you do, always make sure it sounds like you. Otherwise, your reader may not care about what you have to say. In fact, your reader may not even know who wrote it!


Explain to students that good writers follow all the rules, or conventions, of writing, so their readers can easily read and understand the writing.

Say: Using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation when you write is important. When you don’t follow the rules, your reader can become lost or confused. He or she may not know where one idea stops and another begins.

Looking for more 6 trait writing help? The tips from this article came from Evan-Moor Educational Publishers’ Daily 6-Trait Writing. Download a free sample week of instruction and take a look at the teacher resource pages for more examples on how to introduce the traits and lead class lessons.

Got a fun idea for teaching writing? Share it! Post a helpful or original  comment below and be entered to win a School Box gift card!


1 Comment

Filed under Academic Success, Teaching, Writing

One response to “Improving Writing Instruction (Six Easy Ways)

  1. Sandra

    These are all excellent ideas to help improve writing instruction, bit I still am not sure if first graders would fully understand. Students learn my example. While using the above suggestions, use the same simple story to prove your point – for instance: Jack and Jill.
    Before Jack and Jill there was not another story like it which meant when someone wrote Jack and Jill people were interested in it. This will demonstrate the “good idea” part of writing.
    Ask the students to think about how the story is told. Did Jack and Jill tumble down the hill before they went up the hill? Would the story make sense if it was told in this order? Children will see that the way a story is organized makes a difference in how it is interpreted. This will also help help fluency but to get this point across even more so, throw in some words that don’t make sense or mix up the order.
    The last two are simple to get across to a first grader. If a work isn’t your own, if you got the idea from someone else, it is a form of cheating, and no first grader (hopefully no one) wants to be labeled a cheater. Explain to students they may ask for help spelling words, this opens up was to teach them to use a dictionary.
    Students learn by seeing. If you write, they write; if you see writing in a positive way, they will too. Give them an example to go by when teaching to younger students. Use a story they know that has already been done so they know they cant use that story. Don’t assume they know what you know no matter how simple you think you’ve made it.