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Essay Writing in Sixth Grade

November 11, 2020 | Melissa McCallihan

This term sixth grade students have written quite a bit. They honed a larger idea to a small seed of an idea for a personal narrative essay. Learning to edit yourself is part of the skill here. Students often want to tell all the details of an event and lose sight of what they are trying to communicate. This first essay is a baseline for seeing student growth in future essays.

The next essay the students composed was an expository essay featuring the research they did on homelessness in Hudson County. Students crafted a thesis statement to guide the telling of their research throughout the five paragraph essay. Editing and revising focused on citing sources correctly as well as using dynamic transitional words between each paragraph

Students were given the opportunity to practice both styles of writing to reinforce what they learned and to give them another opportunity to express themselves well. Kaylee challenged her classmates to an “essay debate” with the prompt of “Pie is Better than Cake.” Which produced some tasty and witty writing! Some students wrote an essay about thankfulness. Their work was poignant and sentimental.

The last essay is a reflection of their research for their science project. Students are writing an expository essay on an ecosystem reflecting what they learned about the interactions between organisms and the environment.

Melissa McCallihan

Teacher, Grade 6; Science Grades 6-8

Teaching children to take risks and fail well is important to Melissa McCallihan, who has taught for over 29 years. She believes children learn as much through their failures as they do through their successes. She celebrates both in her classroom. In collaboration with the middle school director, art teacher, and other fourth and fifth grade teachers, Mrs. McCallihan has been instrumental in developing the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) program, an extension of the Lower School’s Shared Space model. “STEAM is where students solve problems and sometimes get it wrong,” says Mrs. McCallihan when asked about risks and failing well. “Students need to learn how to do that with grace, and to try again with grit and determination.”

Mrs. McCallihan cares deeply about relationships with her colleagues, students, and families. She works hard to make and maintain connections on a personal and professional level. And follows the mantra “Worship God, Love All.”

When not at school, you can find Mrs. McCallihan searching out a fantastic restaurant or hidden sight to see in New York City.

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