Table of Contents

Unit 3: Learning From Students’ Work and Teachers’ Lessons

6 Traits Rubrics: Early Elementary Example

Using “6 Traits Rubrics” as an Assessment and Annotation Tool

Many schools and districts use or adapt the “6 Traits” or “6 +1 Traits” rubrics (scoring guides) developed by Education Northwest. Researchers and teachers participated in the development of these rubrics to give an overview of the characteristics of effective writing that crosses genres and grade levels.

What is the tool for? In what context is it used?

According to Education Northwest, “The 6+1 Trait® Writing analytical model for assessing and teaching writing is made up of 6+1 key qualities that define strong writing.” These qualities are:

  • Ideas: the main message
  • Organization: the internal structure of the piece
  • Voice: the personal tone and flavor of the author's message
  • Word Choice: the vocabulary a writer chooses to convey meaning
  • Sentence Fluency: the rhythm and flow of the language
  • Conventions: the mechanical correctness
  • Presentation: how the writing actually looks on the page 

How can teachers use the tool to gather and annotate information about students meeting the Common Core writing text types and purposes standards and also using genre-specific writing features and language?

The lesson example below works best for K–2, but provides teachers in higher grades with a good example of how to connect the assessment tool and the Common Core writing standards for the lesson.

Kindergarten Example

Time to Try

Download Learning from Student Work in Kindergarten to view the Kindergarten rubric and how the teacher annotated and learned from the writing of three of her students.

As you review the rubric, notice how she:

  • Annotates the writing by addressing each of the six traits to describe what she sees the students doing or attempting in the writing. She does not “score” the writing, instead annotates how the student writing connects to which trait and at which performance level.
  • Notes what she sees in the writing that exemplifies the Kindergarten writing standard for informative writing. Because the traits do not explicitly reference the CCSS, she includes the standard she focused her instruction on as a reminder to connect her annotations to the CCSS.
  • Identifies what she will work on next with each student. Through her annotations, she draws on the rubric to name the ways the students can improve the qualities of their informative writing.
  • Points toward the Writing Informative/Explanatory Text Type Standards for Grades 1 and 2.
Time to Apply

To view examples of 6-Trait rubrics for use in your own classroom, download them through the links below.


Kindergarten through Grade 2 Grades 3 through 12
5-Point Beginning Writer's Rubric for K-2 5-Point Writer's Rubric for Grades 3-12
Beginning Writer's Rubric: Illustrated 6-Point Writer's Rubric for Grades 3-12

For additional information about 6 Trait ® Writing resources for grades K–12, visit the Education Northwest Web site.

Time to Extend

Education Northwest has created another tool that is helpful for teachers who would like to assess and annotate in the way Kim has. To view this tool, download Crosswalk Between 6+1 Traits and CCSS English Language Arts Standards for Writing and Language.

The crosswalk helps teachers “assess the quality of the writing outlined in the CCSS and monitor the growth of the student using the Traits rubrics” (Education Northwest, 2013).