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Help your middle school students dig deeper into the meaning of each of the six traits on the writing rubric.  Facilitate a whole class or small group discussion about each trait and then practice scoring and calibrating scores with a short writing piece. 

Concept Map

Copy the concept map on the back of each practice sheet and have students work through the trait based on their prior knowledge of the trait. I then have them work with a partner to help fill in the missing pieces, finally, we discuss the trait as a class and complete a class Concept Map on the board.

6-Traits Practice Sheets

Students practice using the rubric (not included) by analyzing a piece of real student writing, scoring and justifiying thier scores. Student writing examples are both high quality and needs improvement – this is intentional to facilitate better discussion. 

What makes this assignment different, is after scoring and giving advice to the writer, they then have to analyze how the pieces of the rubric are interconnected. “If the writer took your advice, what other areas of the rubric would also be improved?”

This mini-unit has proven itself most effective with students that already have a good understanding of the rubric.  I typically use this unit at the beginning of the year to review the traits and practice scoring papers.