Sixth grade is one of the first times that students are introduced to the concept of a long research paper. Students should know all steps and processes as they write research papers throughout their educational careers. Use the sixth grade paper as an early learning process and offer the students as much help as they need.
Introduce the concept of the research paper a few weeks before the first assignment is due. Explain the entire process of the research assignment and give students an outline of the steps necessary to complete the paper. Describe focusing the topic and thesis statement, writing the outline, compiling thebibliography and the difference between a rough draft and final draft. Give 6th grade students tips on how to research, including using the "who, what, when, where, how and why" technique. Assign topics or suggest ideas, such as famous historians, authors, a person the child admires, a topic studied in social studies, history or science or a current events topic.
Give the 6th graders the first assignment. They should choose a topic and come up with a thesis statement for the paper. You can choose a topic for all students to research, a list of possible topics from approved sources and other topics in the class or allow the 6th graders to choose anything. Give the children a deadline of at least two or three days for this part of the project.
Explain the next part of the project to the 6th grade students. They should find research for their topic that will support their thesis statement. Sixth graders should take notes as they go along. For example, if the thesis statement is "spaying and neutering pets helps control strays," then the child should come up with several questions about the topic and find several sources supporting that thesis. Tell the children which sources are authoritative and which sources they cannot use. Give children two or three weeks to create their bibliography.
Give the sixth grade students a sample paper outline to use as a basis for their research outline. Explain the introduction, body containing at least three points or arguments and the conclusion. As the students come up with subtopics, they should take notes on the research. Give the students one or two weeks to complete the outline.
Instruct 6th grade students to write their first drafts. Assign a page minimum, typically two to five pages, double spaced. Give the students about two weeks to write the paper. Give feedback on the first drafts for the students to address in the final draft. Instruct your 6th grade students to proofread research projects using a dictionary, thesaurus and basic editing skills.
Give the students one or two weeks to complete the final draft of the paper. Grade the paper based on the entire process, including the overview, bibliography and paper itself. Papers should meet the page minimums and all other requirements you outlined for the students. Sixth graders should have paragraphs containing topic sentences, basic facts, expanding details and a supporting conclusion. Papers should have complex sentences, spell all words correctly and use correct grammar.