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13). Writing is a highly complex process, and there is much more to a solid piece of writing than the traditional expectations of grammar and mechanics (Culham 12). Many educators are in search of the most meaningful and authentic methods of critiquing students' written work. The 6+ 1 Trait® Writing model is a specific approach to writing instruction and evaluation based upon "a vocabulary teachers use to describe their vision of what good writing looks like" (Culham 7). This model offers an understandable language teachers and students can use for describing quality writing (Perchemlides & Coutant 54-55). The 6+ 1 Trait® Writing Model Frustrated by standardized, multiple-choice assessment instruments, teachers in the northwestern region of the United States searched for a more valid and user-friendly format for teaching and assessing student writing (Culham 10). After careful study of research on writing assessment and close examination of endless forms of writing, teachers and along with researchers from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory concluded that several characteristics were necessary to create exemplary writing. From this realization, the 6+ 1 Trait® Writing model scoring criteria were established (Culham 10). The 6+ 1 Traits® represent characteristics deemed crucial for making all types of written communication effective. They include ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation (Culham 214). A well-developed, focused idea provides a clear message to readers. The "ideas" trait basically deals with the content of a composition. A paper containing a solid point with good supporting evidence demonstrates exemplary application of ideas. A writer must stay focused on the topic and only utilize the details that matter. This trait is sometimes difficult for young writers who struggle with finding a topic (Culham, 35-38). Organization involves the arrangement of the ideas. It is about the internal structure of writing. Logical sequencing and proper use of transitions are important to this particular trait. The "organization" trait should also work to enhance the main ideas within a piece of writing. Students of all ages may find this particular trait challenging as there is not often one perfect structure that works for all types of writing (Culham 70-72). Feeling and personal style make up the "voice" trait. Often referred to as "the soul of the piece" (Culham 12), voice is that special ingredient which truly makes a writer's piece his or her own creation. It is the tone of the message. While it is not always easy to see and therefore, evaluate, voice is a powerful trait that can deeply engage readers and cause them to respond and think in emotional ways. When voice is effective, there should be strong interaction between the writer and his or her readers (Culham, 16). Word choice involves the precise use of words in writing. Rich and vivid language can add so much to writing. Quality descriptive text often displays a wonderful selection of words, greatly enhancing the topic. A writer who is an expert in the "word choice" trait will take extra care to use just the right words for his or her story (Culham 142-144). The fifth trait in the 6+ 1 Trait® Writing model is "sentence fluency." This is the attribute of writing that creates the music of the piece. Sentences of varying length allow for rhythm and flow, which make the writing pleasant to the ear. Because of that quality, sentence fluency is sometimes referred to as the audible trait (Culham 180-181). The sixth trait is often viewed as tremendously important to first-rate writing, although it is just one of the qualities that lend themselves to great work. Conventions are referred to as the
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