HIGH SCHOOL WRITING PROMPTS

• January •

Create a Research Log

Every third Monday of January, America celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King, who delivered the famous "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, D.C., is most known as a non-violent civil rights activist from the 1950s and 1960s. Since his assassination on April 4, 1968, a lot of literature has been written about Dr. King, but his belief in racial equality has aroused enmity in some people. Therefore, it is important to know whether what is published about him, whether in print or on the Internet, is fact or is fiction.

Create a Research Log, evaluating the credibility of Martin Luther King, Jr. Web sites.

Use the following keywords to find Web sites with information about Dr. King.

  • Martin Luther King
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • I Have a Dream speech

Search Web sites that not only have a .com extension, but also .org, .gov, and .edu.

Once you locate these Web sites, check their validity by researching them through a Web site like Easy Who Is. Type in the domain, or web address, of the site you are researching. For example, you may enter "www.thekingcenter.org" and information about the Web site will appear, including the owner and contact information. Then, use a search engine to find out information about the owners and determine whether or not they are an objective or credible source.

Research at least five different Web sites for basic information about Dr. King and keep a log of your information. Your log should include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Who is the owner of the Web site and what did you find out about that corporation or individual?
  • How factual is the information and is it misleading in any way?
  • What other Web sites does the owner own and what is the subject matter?
  • Compare the Web sites you have researched to each other. Record if there are any overlapping facts. Does one Web site mention something that the others leave out?
  • What Web sites do you believe are credible sources? Which ones are not? Why do you feel this way?

Once you have completed your log, share it with your classmates. Teach them how to research Web sites effectively to be assured that the information is accurate.

• February •

Create an Interview Script About an African American Icon

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration that has existed, in some form, as early as 1926. During the second week of February, Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized the first annual Negro History Week, which evolved in the 1960s into Black History Month, a four-week-long tribute to African American History.

During the 1950s and 1960s, important legislation was passed to give African Americans more opportunities in the United States. An instrumental force in the Civil Rights Movement was the Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks became the well-known face of the boycott when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on the bus. After a year of demonstrating, the Supreme Court eventually passed a law desegregating the public buses in Alabama.

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama became the first African-American president and the 44th president of the United States. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the struggles and contributions of the many African Americans who came before him.

Using reference materials at a library or an Internet search engine, research an African American who is considered an icon for his or her accomplishments in civil rights, politics, or entertainment. Learn about his or her achievements. Then, imagine you are able to speak with this icon; create an interview script consisting of at least ten questions. Once you have posed the questions, use your research to find the answers you think would best mirror the subject's response. Consider the following while creating your script:

  • Be sure to include your research in each of your questions.
  • Remember to consider how the individual got involved in his or her field.
  • Ask personal questions too, such as how it feels to be considered an icon by others.
  • Describe how African Americans who came before helped pave the road for this individual.

Once you have finished your script, share it with your classmates by posting it on your class bulletin board or Web site. Also, read your classmates' scripts to learn about other famous African Americans whose accomplishments have impacted society today.

• March •

Write an Oral Introduction to a Re-enactment

March is Women's History Month, a celebration that grew from a local observance of Women's History Week in 1978 in Sonoma, California to become a national phenomenon. Central to the narrative of women's history in the United States is the successful struggle of women to earn the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony played a prominent role in achieving this goal, though she did not live to see her dream fulfilled.

Using the Internet for background, research Susan B. Anthony's role in one of the key events in the campaign for women's right to vote—Anthony's arrest and trial for her attempt to vote in Rochester, New York in 1872. Write a brief oral introduction providing the historical background of Anthony's arrest, indictment, and trial. Then, with a partner, stage a re-enactment of Anthony's famous closing statements before the judge in her trial.

After your re-enactment, discuss with classmates why you think Anthony's method of arguing her case had such an important impact—even though she ultimately lost the case.

• April •

Compile a Poetry Anthology

April marks National Poetry Month, a month-long celebration of poetry. National Poetry Month was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to increase people's attention to the art of poetry, to poets, and to poetic heritage. During this month, schools, libraries, and bookstores across the nation work together to bring poetry into the spotlight.

Use the Internet or your school library to familiarize yourself with works written by famous poets. Visit Web sites such as the Internet Poetry Archive, Bartleby, and Infoplease®. Notice the poets' differing styles as well as the poetic elements of each poem.

Then, use the styles and elements you have seen modeled in other poems to write your own Earth Day inspired poem. Earth Day, another important event that takes place in the month of April, centers on environmental awareness and appreciation. After completing your poem, compile your classmates' poems together to make a classroom poetry anthology.

• May •

Create a Program for a Memorial Day Celebration

On the last Monday of May, Americans observe Memorial Day, a federal holiday that honors the men and women who died while in service to the country. Originally called Decoration Day, this day of remembrance began at the end of the Civil War when communities set aside a day to decorate the graves of those who had died during the war. Memorial Day was first officially observed at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers. After World War I, the holiday changed from honoring just those who died in the Civil War to paying tribute to Americans who died in any war. In 2000, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed. This act asks that at 3 P.M. on Memorial Day, Americans pause for a minute to demonstrate their respect for the servicemen and servicewomen who have died.

Imagine you are in charge of planning your school's observation of Memorial Day. How would you design the event? Using search engines, find suggestions about how to celebrate Memorial Day and honor fallen soldiers. Then, create a program of events that would accompany a half-hour assembly. Your program should include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • A brief history of the creation of Memorial Day
  • A special guest—possibly a war veteran
  • Participation in the "National Moment of Remembrance"

Once you have completed your program, share it with your classmates. Ask your teacher if you could hold a celebration in your classroom or with the entire school, using the program you have outlined.

• June •

Create a Pamphlet About Summer Safety Issues

June is National Safety Month. The National Safety Council established National Safety Month to increase public awareness of safety and health risks and ultimately decrease the number of accidental injuries and deaths. Each week focuses on a specific safety venue: workplace, traffic, home, and community.

Using the National Safety Council's Web site and/or a search engine, research the types of accidents that occur most commonly during the summer for students your age. Then, create an informational pamphlet showing how to prevent some of these occurrences. Include, but do not limit yourself to, the following information in your safety pamphlet:

  • Statistics of accidents in various venues
  • Accident prevention methods
  • In case of emergency information
  • Common accidents/injuries for your peers
  • Safety information and tips

You should also include a graph and other visuals that will help outline your point. Once you have created your pamphlet, share it with your classmates and peers to help keep them safe over the summer.

• July/August •

Create a Pro-Con Chart on "Year-Round" School

July marks the beginning of the summer and the time when most schools around the country are closed until September. However, some schools run on a year-round schedule, with shorter vacations sprinkled throughout the calendar year. Why do most American school calendars run from September to June? What is your school's schedule?

Use the Internet to learn more about American school vacation schedules. Then, create a pro-con chart on "Year-Round" School.

Search the Internet and read about the history of American school summer vacations. Then, gather further information on the advantages and disadvantages of going to school year-round. Use either a search engine or Wikipedia to help you get started.

After you have gathered all your information, create a pro-con chart outlining the advantages and disadvantages of going to school year-round. If you choose to add your personal opinions to the chart, be sure to provide supporting evidence.

Once you have completed your chart, share it with your family and friends. Ask them to share their opinions about school year-round. You may also choose to post your chart on your school's bulletin board or Web site.

• September •

Create a Pamphlet to Advertise a Sporting Event

This September is an important month for competitive sports around the world. In America, the National Football League once again kicks off its regular season. The US Open, featuring many of the world's top tennis stars, takes place over a two-week period beginning in August and ending in September.

Use a search engine to research some of these events. Then, choose one and create an informational pamphlet to advertise it. You may instead create an imaginary sporting event of your own creation for something like table tennis, golf, volleyball, lacrosse, or any other sport you like. Consider, but do not limit yourself to, the following questions:

  • What sport will be played? Is this sport coed?
  • Where is the event being held?
  • At what time and date is the event?
  • How many people are expected to attend?
  • Who are some famous players that might be exciting to watch?
  • What kinds of foods might be available?

The Pamphlet should be informative, but you should use different fonts, colors, and pictures to make it visually appealing as well. Once you have finished, share your pamphlet with your classmates and decide which event you would like to attend.

Note: It is illegal to use copyrighted art or photography from the Internet without permission. To avoid this issue, use original pictures or clip art.

• October •

Create an Oral Presentation

For over a century, Major League Baseball's World Series has enthralled America. As the season comes to an end for America's favorite past time, teams from both the American League and National League meet in a best of seven games contest for the championship. This "Fall Classic," as it is often called, takes place each October.

Using the Internet as a reference tool, create an oral presentation of the history of Major League Baseball from its inception to today, focusing on the World Series. Your oral presentation should be approximately three minutes long and have at least one visual device. Some of the topics that should be included in your presentation, but are not limited to, are the following:

  • The creation of baseball—including who created it and where
  • The rules of the World Series and when they were established
  • The Negro Leagues and the integration of Major League Baseball
  • Some of the greatest/most exciting games in the World Series
  • The teams who have been to the World Series the most
  • The most viewed World Series in history

Use the Baseball Almanac to help you access this information.

When you finish creating your oral presentation, share it with your classmates.

• November •

Create a Journal

Since 1994, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has been striving to improve the nutrition and general well being of all Americans. One of the most renowned resources that the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has used to enforce its teachings is the Food Guide Pyramid. Recently, the Food Guide Pyramid was replaced by a plate, MyPlate, which is designed to be simpler and easier to understand.

November is Good Nutrition Month. Use MyPlate to customize your own healthy strategy. Then, keep a daily journal for one week of everything you've learned from the MyPlate plan and how you have been implementing it into your daily routine. You journal entries should include the following information:

  • Which foods MyPlate thinks would be best for you based upon your age, gender, and amount of daily physical activity
  • Your daily physical activities, including but not limited to, gym class, sports team practice, walking to or home from school
  • Which foods you eat throughout the day, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks in between

Your final journal entry should be a 300-word summary of the past week, including any noticeable changes you've experienced both physically and mentally. You should also state whether or not you plan to enforce the MyPlate plan in your everyday life.

Once you finish your journal, share it with your classmates so they too can learn how to lead a healthier lifestyle.

• December •

Create a Biographical Profile of a Nobel Laureate

December is the month in which the Nobel Prize is awarded for outstanding achievement in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, peace, literature, and economics. The awards were established by the will of Alfred Nobel, who left a fund to provide annual prizes in all these areas, except economics.

Find out more about the Nobel Prize, its history, the winners, known as Nobel Laureates, and the selection process by visiting the official Nobel Prize Organization or the Infoplease® Web sites. Then, use the information you gather to prepare a biographical profile of a 2015 Nobel Laureate. Your profile should include, but not be limited to, the following information:

  • How are Nobel Laureates chosen and what must they all have accomplished in their respective fields, according to the Nobel Committee? (Pay specific attention to the Nobel Laureate you chose to profile.)
  • In which field does your Laureate excel, and for what particular contribution to society was he or she honored?
  • Who are some of the most famous Nobel Laureates of the past in the same field as your Laureate?

When you have finished, you may wish to compare your biographical profile with those of your classmates. Then, post a final version on your school's Web site to share the information with other students.