Students write best when they can use their own voices and tell their own stories. Some students need guidance from their teachers to help them determine what to write about, while others can be handed any theme and produce whatever is asked of them. So we have put together four themes to help draw out the voices of those at-risk students who aren’t inspired by the traditional writing prompts provided in our middle and high schools.
Lost Friends and Family — Stories about losing people we love; Can be a physical loss or a relational loss
- Think about someone close to you whom you have lost. What do you miss the most about them?
- Write how someone provided support to you that was most meaningful while you experienced grief. Tell about how the loss impacted you, and what that someone’s actions meant to you.
Facing Injustice — Stories about experiencing and responding to injustice; These stories can be personal experience of facing injustice, or seeing someone else face injustice; Students can also write about injustice they see on the news and their response
- Describe a time when you have been confronted with what you saw as injustice. How did you respond? What did you learn about yourself or society through the experience?
Education — Stories of success, of dropping out, of overcoming failure; Students can write about their personal experiences, and/or their views on educational policies in their school, state, or the nation
- Think of a time when you achieved an academic goal. Tell your readers about the story of how you met your goal. Be sure that your readers understand why the goal is important to you.
- Think about a time when you didn’t meet an academic or athletic goal. What prevented you from meeting that goal? What did you do to overcome this “failure?”
Fresh Voices — Inspiring stories told well; These stories may be happy, but don’t have to be
- Tell the story of a scar, whether a physical scar or emotional one. To be a writer, said Stephen King, “The only requirement is the ability to remember every scar.” Good writers don’t cover up their wounds, they glorify them. Think for a few moments about a moment in your life when you were wounded, whether physically or emotionally. Then, write a story, true or fictional, involving that wound.
- Write about one day you will never forget. Tell what happened and why it was special, memorable, or meaningful.
- Think of a time when you achieved a personal goal. Tell your readers about the story of how you met your goal, including what you have to overcome. Be sure that your readers understand why the goal is important to you.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?