Keeping middle schoolers excited about writing is important. Writing is such an essential skill that students will need as they complete their education and move on to finding a real job.Many middle school-age students, however, often begin seeing writing as something that isn’t fun or worthwhile. Other students get discouraged about their abilities as a writer and may stop trying their best.
Finding the best writing prompts for 6th grade is so important in keeping students excited and writing and seeing it as something that is worth their time.A few years ago, I took a job as a 6th grade writing teacher. I almost immediately noticed that many of my students seemed bored with writing, while others seemed to shut down when asked to write.I searched and found some engaging writing prompts that sparked my students’ interest. What a difference it made! Students that claimed writing was ‘useless’ were now engaged and sharing their work with others!
I’d love to help you bring about this change in your students, too! Continue reading, and I’ll share:
- The 6th grade writing standards →
- Advantages of using writing prompts with your lessons →
- My favorite creative writing prompts for 6th grade →
- My favorite argumentative writing prompts for 6th grade →
Providing students with opportunities for creative writing is important. Creative writing can help students process their emotions, build their confidence, express their individuality, and increase their imagination.
Below are some of my favorite creative writing prompts for 6th grade. You can use document cameras in order to follow your student’s writing.
Prompt: When you become disappointed, what do you do to manage your emotions?
Before having students begin writing, brainstorm some possible reactions as a class. These may include crying, breathing deeply, counting to 10, taking a break/removing oneself from the situation. After brainstorming, have students select the strategy (or strategies) that best describe their reactions and write about what they do.
2. Flying Superpower
Prompt: One morning, you wake up and realize that you are suddenly able to fly. What adventures would you like to go on?
This writing prompt will really tap into students’ creativity and imagination. Since flying is something they clearly have never done, they will have to think about all the things that would be possible and choose a few to write about.
3. Letter to Future Self
Prompt: Write a letter to your future self. What would you want yourself to know?
Tell students that they will be writing a letter to themselves to read when they are older. You can either pick an age/milestone (graduating from college, getting their first job, having children, etc.), or allow students to pick. Ask students to think about what they believe would be important to know at that juncture in their life and include it in their letter.
You could also modify this by having students write a letter to their past selves. What would they have wanted to know at the beginning of the school year, before they lost their first tooth, or before they even learned how to walk?
4. No Internet for a Month
Prompt: If there was no internet available for a month, what would you do?
This could be a fun one to do with middle schoolers who are so dependent on technology and the internet. Before students begin writing, get them to brainstorm a list of all the ways their lives are dependent on the internet.
Encourage them to think beyond the ‘obvious’ online game play and video streaming to consider other impacts such as ordering items online or communicating via email with friends and family.
5. Genie in a Bottle
Prompt: You released a genie from her magic bottle, and she said she would give you any talent that you ask for. What talent would you want and why?
This is another great creative writing prompt for sixth graders. They’ll have fun thinking about a talent they would like and what they would like to do with that talent.
Argumentative writing is another important skill for students to practice and develop. With argumentative writing, students must decide their opinion or position related to an issue and provide reasons that support their position. These reasons should be evidenced based, so research to find the support is often required.
You’ll find some of my favorite argumentative writing prompts to use with 6th grade students below.
Prompt: Which animal makes the best pet? Support your opinion with facts and examples.
I like this writing prompt for introducing students to argumentative writing. The topic of pets is something all students are familiar with, even if they don’t personally own a pet.
You can also use this topic to introduce students to providence factual reasons, versus opinions, to support their answers. For example, if students want to say that a cat is the best pet, a factual reason can’t be that cats are cute. However, they could say something like cats are the best pet because they do not have to be taken outside to go to the bathroom on a cold or rainy day.
2. Teaching Math in School
Prompt: Is it necessary to teach math in school? Why or why not?
I liked using this writing prompt with my 6th graders. Before I had students start, I took an initial poll by having the students raise their hands. Not surprisingly, a fair number of hands went up to vote against teaching math in school.
However, after we discussed the pros and cons of eliminating math instruction and students had to make their final decision before starting on their prompt, a lot of students changed their minds. It was encouraging to see them looking at the stronger reasons for leaving math in the curriculum and letting them outweigh their desire for ‘easier’ school.
3. Screen Time Limits
Prompt: Should parents place limits on how much screen time their children can have? Why or why not?
This is another great prompt when you really want to get students to think. Most students will initially say that they should be able to use their devices as much as they want.
However, once they start thinking about reasons to limit screen time and examine evidence showing the impact of too much screen time on children, they may change their mind.
4. Conserving Energy
Prompt: What is the most important thing all households should be doing to conserve energy?
This writing prompt can pair nicely with a science unit on energy conservation. Clearly, there are a number of things that families can do to reduce their environmental impact.
However, for this writing prompt, students must decide which one thing is the most important and provide evidence to support their opinion.
Sixth graders will continue to build on the knowledge and skills they learned in elementary school. As the first of the middle school years, the writing expectations for sixth grade will be greater than those during the elementary school years.
Sixth grade is a critical year for students in regards to writing and other subject matters. They are transitioning from elementary school to the upper grades and will need the right supports to help them master the grade-level standards.
Below is an overview of the writing standards for 6th grade related to the writing process, writing purposes, writing evaluation, conventions, and research and inquiry.
Students should receive instruction and practice on each stage of the writing process. They should independently implement each of the stages when producing their own written work.
The stages of the writing process that sixth graders are expected to know and use include:
Sixth graders should be composing texts for a variety of purposes and intents. Many of these texts should be at least 500 to 700 words long.
Some of the different forms/intents that students should be writing about in sixth grade include:
- Research Reports
- Responses to Literature
In sixth grade, students should practice evaluating and giving constructive feedback for another student’s wiring.
They should also begin evaluating their own work and identify their strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Then, they should use this information to set persona writing goals for improving their work.
Below are some of the key convention skills that sixth graders should be proficient with:
- Sentence structure
- Cursive or manuscript
Research and Inquiry
Research and inquiry is another important standard for sixth graders to show proficiency with. By the end of the year, students should be able to:
- Compile information from multiple sources to complete a report
- Use graphic organizer to show prior knowledge about a subject
- Create a plan for research and take notes about a topic
- Create appropriate questions to research
- Choose appropriate and authoritative sources
- Locate relevant information from resources
- Summarize the information found from various sources
- Document and cite sources
- Understand and articulate the importance of avoiding plagiarism
You may be wondering why you should use writing prompts with your sixth graders. There actually are a number of benefits associated with using writing prompts, some of which may surprise you.
A few of the benefits of using writing prompts during your writing instruction include:
- The ability to focus student writing on a specific form of writing (informative, narrative, expository, etc.).
- Giving students the opportunity to practice writing and strengthen their skills as a writer.
- Presenting students with engaging tasks and assignments.
- Helping us as teachers come up with new ideas to get our students interested and engaged.
- You can find many writing prompts online for free, which is always a benefit when you are a teacher.
Got to sub in 6th grade today, the predictions were coming fast and furious for today’s writing prompt. Got to love engaged students! pic.twitter.com/nBfzMxxP0T
— Nick Jurrens (@NickJurrens) February 20, 2021
There are some examples of worksheets for 6th grade.
I love writing! As a writing teacher, I was discouraged at first to see that many of my students didn’t share that love. However, once I started implementing some of the writing prompts that I shared above, I noticed a nearly instant change in their attitudes and effort. I hope you find the same successes with your students.
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