As your seniors begin the last few weeks of their high school careers, they will probably be experiencing many emotions. Excited to graduate, stressed for finals, anxious to begin a new life. To help ease their anxiety, carve out a little time for a meaningful writing assignment. Try one of these short prompts:
1. "Remember when..."
- Who doesn't like to reminisce once in a while? Have your students write as many "Remember when..." statements about their school days and classmates. Allow them to share with their classmates. You could also collect their writing and make copies for each student. For a paperless option, create a Google Document and share it with them. Each student can contribute their own "Remember when..." statements.
2. "My Favorite Quote..."
- Have your students share their favorite quotes. Prompt them to elaborate on why that particular quote speaks to them. Some will already know their favorite quote, but others may need help. Here are some websites with compilations of quotes that may help:
• Brainy Quote
• Good Quotations by Famous People
(Compiled by Dr. Gabriel Robins)
• A Collection of Quotes and More Pinterest Board
As an enrichment, students can type their favorite quote into a word-cloud generator (try www.wordle.net
). They can print the images and hang their quotes in the classroom as a reminder of the inspirational words they have chosen.
3. Live & Learn and Pass It On: "I Have Learned..."
- I've written about this activity
several times; it's no surprise that it is one of my favorites each year. Based on H. Jackson Browne Jr.'s book
, students write a "life lesson" they have learned. Examples include: "I have learned that being nice to the lunch ladies pays off with extra helpings of food," and "I have learned that my senior year went by way too fast. If I could have a do-over, I'd enjoy it more and stress less." If you want to use the lesson I created for this assignment, you can download it free here: Life Lessons Writing Freebie
4. Best Advice Received &/or Best Advice to Pass Along
- First, students write about the best advice they've received in the past four years. What made it the "best"? Did they follow it? Or wish they had? Next, or as an alternative prompt, they write a message of advice to incoming freshmen. What do they wish they had known? Would they pass along advice they had been given? How would advice to an incoming freshman differ from advice they would leave to the current junior class?
5. "My Legacy..."
- Ask students, "What is your legacy?" What are they leaving behind for others? This is a good reflective prompt because it makes students think about how they have impacted the lives of others. Perhaps it is a memory of something they did in school--an accomplishment they achieved or how they made a group of students laugh. Maybe they served as an example, whether it was positive or negative (one of my former students who had been expelled for a year wrote about that experience and hoped others would learn from his mistakes). Maybe it is a tangible item, such as a trophy in the cabinet, a seat in the cafeteria, a parking space, a locker, or a tree planted on campus. How will others benefit from their legacy? If they struggle with this, ask them what they would like to leave behind if they had no limitations. Or maybe the underlying question here is: how do they want to be remembered by future students? Or do they want to remembered at all? If not, why not?
6. Senior Will
- I remember my old high school year yearbook printing up "senior wills" on the last page of the yearbook. Each senior "willed" something to another student, a teacher or staff member, or the administration. Perhaps the reason it was dropped before I entered high school was that some responses like "Jack wills his sense of humor to Mr. Doe because he clearly needs it" were not appropriate or respectful. But some of them were great, like "Jane wills her artistic abilities to the incoming freshmen so they can beat the other classes in the Homecoming float-building contest." If you think your students can handle this (as far as maturity), it is a fun activity. But if it becomes a way to make fun of others, move on to a different activity.
7. "What's Hot? What's Not?"
- Another favorite activity, have students create Hot/Not lists for their high school career. They could start a list on the white board (or on a shared Google Doc) of events or happenings that were "hot" (or great) and "not" over the past four years. "Hot" items might include winning a championship, filming a "Harlem Shake" video, or participating in a poetry cafe. "Not" items may include state testing/final exams (or any high-stakes test), losing a close game, or perhaps losing a classmate. The lists they generate are great discussion starters, but also help students cope with feelings they may still be holding on to. I use my "What's Hot? What's Not?" activity
in class for additional purposes, as well. You can download it free in my teacher store.
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