MIDDLE SCHOOL WRITING PROMPTS

• January •

Create a Compare-and-Contrast Chart

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 great deal of literature has been written about Dr. King and his belief in racial equality.

Create a Compare-and-Contrast Chart, evaluating the similarities and differences of Martin Luther King Web sites. Search Web sites that not only have a .com extension, but also .org, .gov, and .edu. For example, search the official Web site of The King Center, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute sponsored by Stanford University, or Infoplease®. Once you locate these Web sites, compare them to each other using, but not limiting yourself to, the following information:

  • Look at the opening page, what stands out most?
  • What images are pictured on the site?
  • Discuss some of the factual information about Dr. King that is provided.
  • Are there any overlapping facts? What information is repeated the most?

Create a column for the criteria at the top of your page, and on the left side of the page, list the Web sites you visited. Once you have created your chart, write a brief summary of what you noticed. Which Web site do you find the most effective and why? Then, share the information with your classmates. Teach them the benefits of visiting various Web sites with different extensions to obtain different but accurate information.

• February •

Create a Web Entry as 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. His 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 that you are that individual. Based on your research, write a Web entry of your experiences that you would want students your age to read and learn from. Consider, but do not limit yourself to, the following while writing your entry:

  • What lessons could students learn from your experiences?
  • Teach them an appreciation of the sacrifices and heroics that people made in order to achieve equality.
  • Keeping in mind all that you have learned from your research, tell them your greatest hopes for their generation.

Once you have finished your Web entry, share it with your classmates by posting it on your class or school Web site.

• March •

Create a Gallery for Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month, which celebrates the contributions of women in American history. These contributions have been many and diverse; and their impacts have been felt in many fields, from politics to civil rights to arts and entertainment. Explore some of the notable achievements of women at the National Portrait Gallery Web site.

Next, create your own gallery of women whose achievements you find admirable. You can create it as an electronic/online gallery or as a bulletin board display. Each entry should include

  • a photo or illustration of each woman.
  • a description of each woman's notable achievements and the obstacles she overcame.
  • an explanation of why you find each woman admirable.

Try to present a varied group of women from diverse fields of accomplishment. Feel free to include your own personal heroes from among friends and relatives who have had an important impact on your family history. When you are finished creating your gallery, invite responses from your classmates.

• April •

Organize a Poetry Reading

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.

Work with a partner to write your own poem for a classroom poetry reading. Each partner should write a list of 5–10 words. Then, exchange the word lists with your partner and create a poem using your partner's words. Once you have each completed your work, practice reading your poems aloud to one another. Exchange suggestions with your partner, and revise your poem as necessary. After completing any necessary revisions, present your poems to the class.

• May •

Write an Editorial in Honor of Memorial Day

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 fighting 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.

Write an editorial to your school or local newspaper in which you discuss the importance of Memorial Day. Provide a brief overview of the history of the day. Also include tips on how people can observe the holiday. Using search engines, find suggestions about how to celebrate Memorial Day and honor fallen soldiers. Your suggestions may include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Attending a local parade
  • Flying the flag at half-mast
  • Participating in the "National Moment of Remembrance"

Once you have completed your editorial, share it with your classmates.

• June •

Create a Poster 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 poster showing how to prevent at least one of these occurrences. You may choose to include the following information in your poster:

  • 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 or other visuals that will help outline your point. Once you have created your poster, 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 a Timeline

For over a century, Major League Baseball's World Series has captivated 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 a detailed research timeline of the history of Major League Baseball from its creation to today, focusing on the World Series. A timeline spans over a certain time period. To create a timeline you must draw a straight line horizontally across a piece of paper. Your timeline should include some illustrations of various significant events. Include at least four of the following topics on your timeline:

  • 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 or 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 timeline, hang it up on a bulletin board at your school or in the library to share with other students.

• 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 noted 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
  • Any noticeable changes in you both physically and mentally

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

• December •

Create a Journal

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 for 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 what you learn about the Nobel Prize to prepare an FAQ for your classmates. An FAQ is a document that poses and answers questions that are most commonly asked about a specific subject. Underneath each question, a brief answer appears. Some sample FAQs about the Nobel Prize are as follows (you may think of others):

  • Who won the Nobel prizes this year?
  • Who established the Nobel Prize, and when was it first awarded?
  • How are Nobel Laureates chosen and what must they all have accomplished in their respective fields, according to the Nobel Committee?
  • When was the prize in economics established?

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