Sixth-graders must be able to write persuasive essays that present an argument that supports their ideas with logic and proof. They are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the topic and provide credible sources. To motivate your students, assign topics that are relevant to their lives.
Choose essay topics familiar to sixth-graders. What situations in their personal lives do they feel passionate about? Do they want to stay up later than they are allowed? Can they provide logical reasons for doing so? What movie would they recommend to a friend and why? Can video games be considered art? Is reading graphic novels just as educational as reading traditional novels?
Sticky Social Situations
Getting sixth-grade students to express themselves about social issues is a good way for them to start a healthy dialogue about potentially volatile situations. Is it OK to say something on the Internet that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face? Is it OK to get a job or a place on the team because a family member is the boss or the coach? How important is it to wear brand-name clothes? Is it OK to play pranks on people just for fun?
School and community policies can affect sixth-graders on a very personal level, and they are sure to have opinions about protocols that affect their lives. Should there be more time designated to eat lunch in school? If the school budget had to be cut, what programs should be eliminated and why? Is a school uniform policy a good idea? Should students be allowed to have cellphones in the classroom? Is Saturday detention an effective method of discipline?
Writer and historian James Truslow Adams defined the American dream as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” What is your idea of the American dream? Do you think the American dream is possible? Are the goals of your generation the same as your parents and grandparents? What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting married? Of having children? Should everyone go to college?
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