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6th Grade Reflective Essay

I gave the students a chance to reflect after they'd gotten back their Expository Essays from the previous unit. I allow the students plenty of time to look back on their writing from the year so far, including the drafts and the final pieces. I want them to see the PROCESS, not just the product at the end with a grade.

I had them use this Blank writing reflection sheet to track their thinking.

This first student reflection tells me a lot about how they struggled with their essay. And the second student reflection gives me a lot of insight about how this student is struggling with transferring her voice into writing. Such valuable insight from both!

The work time and reflection portion of the lesson were combined and took a good chunk of time because I wanted them to really think about how far they have come in their writing so far this year, and how much work is ahead of them. I heard kids talking about how their writing is sophisticated this year, and the writing "sounds more adult," than it did last year in elementary school.

I passed back their scored expository essays, and had the students read my comments. During this time, I rotated around and translated my writing and answered any questions. The questions asked them in what areas could they grow, what actions could they take to do better, then what am I, as their teacher, missing.


When I started my first job as a professional newspaper reporter (This job also served as an internship during my junior year in college — I just didn’t leave for about 6 years.), I quickly realized that all my experience, and all my years of journalism education had not been enough to help me write stories about drug busts, fatal car accidents and tornadoes. All the theoretical work I’d done, and all of the nifty little scholastic and collegiate stories I had done, did not prepare me for real world writing.

At that point, I had to find a solution quickly. After all, I had a deadline to meet, and it was only a few hours away.

One of my colleagues, who also served as a mentor, had the solution. She introduced me to the newspaper’s “morgue.” This was a room filled with filing cabinets in which we kept old — dead — stories arranged by reporter. Whenever I wasn’t’ sure how to write a story, all I had to do was check the morgue for similar stories. If I needed to write a story about a local drug bust, for example, I’d find another story on a similar incident, study its structure, and mentally create a formula in which to plugin the information I’d gathered.

Once I’d gained more experience, and had internalized the formula for that particular type of story, I felt free to branch out as the situation — and my training — warranted.

I do the same thing when I want to write a type of letter, brochure, or report that I’ve never written before.

This is what writing looks like in the real world.

Research by “Write Like This” author Kelly Gallagher indicates that if we want students to grow as writers, we need to provide them with good writing to read, study, and emulate. My personal experience backs this up, as does the old adage “all writing is rewriting,” oft quoted by everyone from LA screenwriters to New York Times bestselling authors.

Of course, if you’re a new teacher like me, there is one problem with providing mentor texts to my students: I have a dearth of middle school level writing sitting around in my file cabinets.

Fortunately, the Internet is full of sources, so I scoured the bowels of Google to find examples. I know how busy you are, so I’m sharing.

Expository writing examples for middle school

Below are several sources of expository writing samples for middle school students.

Finally, here is an article in the New York Times that will help you teach your students real-world expository writing skills.

Descriptive writing examples for middle school

Narrative writing examples for middle school

Argumentative/persuasive writing examples for middle school

Reflective writing examples for middle school

If you know of any other online writing example sources, please feel free to share them in the comments below.


I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma graduate student, and a NBPTS candidate. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify my students’ voices and choices.

Filed Under: PedagogyTagged With: writing examples, writing samples

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