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Writing Prompts for High School Students

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 9/11/2012

Engaging high school students in the writing process is a critical challenge teachers must overcome. These interesting writing prompts will help.

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    It was late afternoon at Writelittle high school. Something strange was afoot. The principal squeaked like Micky Mouse. The deans wore duck outfits. Several teachers dressed as tea cups and spun recklessly through the halls. Others barged in on my grading, asking where to get their Fastpass. Mrs. Manykids came by wanting to know where her kid had wandered off to. As I was leaving I found a ticket on my windshield for not having paid for parking. Apparently, too many kids had written too many essays on their trip to Disneyland and it was starting to affect the teachers.

    I had to do something and I did. The next day I brought a list of writing prompts to share with my colleagues. I now share them with you.

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    More Interesting Writing Prompts

    Persuasive Essay Prompts

    1. If you could change one rule about your school, what would it be and why? Be sure to explicitly state the changed rule, provide reasons for changing the rule, and address any potential arguments against changing the rule.
    2. Address whether or not the school day should be extended by one hour. Be sure to take a stand on either side of the issue, address the educational aspects of it, and discuss its financial implications.
    3. Random drug testing has been implemented in many school districts. Proponents cite the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs and other illegal drugs. Opponents claim it is a violation of individual rights. In your essay, take a stand on either side of the issue. Regardless of your position, be sure to address the proliferation of illegal drugs and the potential violation of individual rights.Romeo and Juliet: these two could have used your advice 
    4. Write a letter to a literary character giving him or her advice on how to handle a difficult situation. Be sure to examine the pros and cons of your advice and to address multiple options.

    Cause and Effect Essay Prompts (Here's a cause and effect graphic organizer)

    1. Write about an event that has helped you develop a specific personality trait. Be sure to explain the event in detail and explain how it's influenced you as a person.
    2. Imagine how different your life would be without recent technological developments--cell phones, Ipods, computers, for example. Write an essay describing how your daily life would change without a recent technological development.
    3. School spirit is lagging. Write an essay explaining the causes. Give specific examples to support your reasons.
    4. Imagine your best friend steals your boyfriend or girlfriend. Describe the short term and long term effects on your friendship and on your other friendships.
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    More Ideas

    Use these prompts to get your students thinking.

    Narrative Writing Prompts (this story structure organizer may help)

    1. Describe an experience you've had with water.
    2. Write about an experience that taught you about money.
    3. Imagine your life ten years from now. Write about a typical day. Use details and be specific.
    4. Imagine accomplishing an important, difficult goal. Write an account of your success. Be sure to include your feelings.
    5. You didn't do your homework. Come up with a creative excuse.

    Descriptive Writing Prompts

    1. Describe a day at your favorite place. Do not use adjectives or adverbs.
    2. You've just been hired as the interior decorator for this classroom. Describe the changes you would make, why you would change them, and what effect the changes will have on the class.
    3. You're a newborn baby, less than 5 minutes old. Describe your new world.

    Process Writing Prompts

    1. Explain how to get rid of an annoying friend at a party (without committing a crime).
    2. Your brother is entering middle school. You just completed middle school. Write him a letter explaining how to succeed in middle school.
    3. Write an essay about how to break up with a boyfriend/girlfriend without hurting feelings.
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    Now that you have all the writing prompts you'll need, you can focus on actually teaching your students to write!

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    Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons