Just Released—

Creating Writers: 6 Traits, Process, Workshop, and Literature  
by Vicki Spandel. 2013. Pearson.

I am very pleased to announce the release of my newest book, Creating Writers: Traits, Process, Workshop, and Literature. It took me well over a year to put this sixth edition of Creating Writers together, and it’s truly different from any previous edition. For one thing, it’s not just a book about teaching traits; it’s a book about teaching writing—through modeling, reading, discussion, conferences, workshop, and guided revision. This book puts the six traits of writing in context, showing how they are best taught—within writing workshop and by putting students in charge of their own writing process. It also reveals how strongly trait-based writing instruction depends on literature, using mentor texts to help students answer one core question: What makes writing work? The very best of what I’ve included in my workshops for the past 25 years is right here in one book (Pearson generously allowed me to go well beyond the original page limit, for which I thank them deeply), and in response to readers’ requests, it’s all reformatted, too . . .  

New Organization

This time around, I have organized all materials by trait, giving each trait its own chapter, and making the book exceptionally easy to use in classrooms or workshop settings. Definitions, literature, lessons, and writing samples relating to any given trait are now all together. Favorite papers and lessons are back—along with many, many new ones. You’ll find new one-page writing guides (written with an eye on Common Core standards), and countless book recommendations (many nonfiction) that connect writing to reading as never before.

Strong Links to Common Core

Edition 6/e also clarifies the link between the six traits and the Common Core Standards for Writing—and that link is very powerful. This is not surprising since the standards and traits share a common focus: elements of good writing. Lesson ideas are written with that connection in mind—and the book’s opening chapter deals with the Common Core directly. Those familiar with the Common Core know that the traits of Ideas and Organization are foundational within the writing standards (See our last two posts here on Gurus)—and a full chapter is dedicated to each of those traits. The traits of Word Choice and Conventions/Presentation are an inherent part of the Language Arts Standards, and both are covered expansively, with numerous suggestions for helping students become strong editors and document designers.

 But on an even deeper level, the Common Core calls for students to understand and really use writing process, planning and revising their work with purpose. Strategies for teaching revision abound in this edition. Further, research indicates that students learn best when given not only direct instruction but models, and so I have provided many: strong (and problematic) examples of writing spanning the three umbrella genres of the Common Core—narrative, informational writing, and argument. And you’ll find many tips for analyzing this writing with students so they can deepen their understanding of what makes writing work or gets in the way. Writing guides developed especially for informational writing include such basic Common Core requirements as setting up a discussion, supporting assertions with relevant detail, organizing for understanding, choosing words that make the message clear, and providing a solid conclusion. In addition, a chapter dedicated to teaching informational writing well includes lessons on such basics as note taking or working quotations into text smoothly.  

Web Site Featuring Printable Resources

The book has its own web site, giving users access to (and ability to print out) all essentials: writing guides (aka, rubrics), writing samples, and numerous graphics that support lessons or discussion. Whether you’re leading a workshop or teaching students, I’m confident you’ll find this collection thorough, supportive, and helpful.

In a Nutshell: What’s New in Creating Writers 6/e

  • Clear links between the six traits and the Common Core Standards for Writing (Chapter 1 and throughout the book) provide teachers assurance that their instruction aligns with these standards.
  •  Numerous links to literature (Chapters 3 through 9) truly connect reading and writing, with more titles (for all grade levels), expanded annotations, and a list of exemplary trade books ideal for teaching informational writing.
  •  A full chapter devoted to writing workshop and process (Chapter 2) shows how to get started with writing workshop and how to teach the six traits within a meaningful context.
  •  Easy-to-follow organizational design groups all papers, writing guides, literature, and lessons pertaining to a given trait together, making instruction easy to plan and carry out.
  •  New one-page writing guides simplify assessment, encourage self-evaluation, and display traits in a flexible yet consistent way across  a variety of formats: Teacher Writing Guides, Informational Writing Guides, Early Guides (for primary writers), and Leap-the-River Writing Guides for Students.
  •  New lessons that emphasize modeling (Chapters 3 through 10) show teachers how and what to model (including many examples of revision).
  •  A carefully chosen collection of new and long-time favorite student writing samples (Chapters 3 through 10, and throughout the book) includes over 80 exemplars that span a wide range of grade levels, abilities, and genres.
  •  An extensive discussion of technology (Chapter 8) stretches our twenty-first century definition of writing to include communication forms like PowerPoint, blogs, wikis, audio, and video.
  •  A fully revised chapter on quality assessment (Chapter 12) outlines ways to make both large-scale and classroom writing assessment truly work for us and our students.
  •  The informational writing section (Chapter 9) shows why genre might be considered an additional trait of successful writing—and walks teachers through a process for developing (together with students) a personalized (Common Core validated) classroom checklist for persuasive writing/argument.
  •  An expanded chapter on Primary Writing shows how traits look at beginning levels, helping teachers recognize strengths they might not have seen before, and offering lessons and literature suited to our youngest writers.
  •  New interactive Questions & Activities stimulate teachers’ thinking, and build a strong sense of community within study groups, workshops, or teacher preparation classes.
  •  New Author’s Notes throughout the text speak directly to readers, citing additional resources, and suggesting lesson adaptations, further reading, and ways of adapting instruction to meet a wide range of student needs.

You can order a copy of Creating Writers, 6/e . . .

By phone—

  • 800-848-9500


Or through the Pearson rep for your area—

If you are interested in a workshop based on the book, please call us at Gurus: 503-579-3034. Ask for Jeff.

 There is no way to overstate how much I have learned from writing specialists like Donald Murray, Donald Graves, Mem Fox, Georgia Heard, Katie Wood Ray, Tom Romano, Barry Lane, and others; or from gifted teachers like Arlene Moore, Ronda Woodruff, Jeff Anderson, Jenny Wallace, Judy Mazur, Rosey Dorsey, Jeff Hicks, Barbara Andrews, Fred Wolff, Leila Naka, Judy Puckett, Kathy Hawkins, Penny Clare, Billie Lamkin, Sally Shorr, and oh, so many more. I’ve tried to include the voices of these remarkable people in the book so that you can learn from them, too—and I hope I’ve done them justice. Creating Writers is an ongoing conversation about the boundless satisfaction and extraordinary demands of teaching writing. It is not an easy thing to teach. It can zap your energy, frustrate the dickens out of you, and even break your heart. But almost nothing overshadows the sheer joy a teacher feels when reading the words of a writer who has found his or her voice.