Beginning of the Year Lesson Plan: A High School Writing Assessment for 10th Graders

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This high school writing assessment will get your year started off right.

Freshmen know they’re the rookies at school. They’re nervous and walk around with their eyes wide open, hoping not to be noticed. Juniors know they’re just one year away from ruling the roost – they are now upperclassmen. Seniors run the school.

Everyone knows their role at school, except sophomores. This beginning of the year lesson plan helps sophomores understand how they fit in at school, and gives you an opportunity to assess their writing.

What is a Sophomore?

The word “sophomore” originated from Latin and means “wise fool.” In short, a sophomore knows enough to think that he or she knows enough, but doesn’t know enough to know he or she doesn’t really know enough. For example, some sophomores will obtain a drivers license this year. They’ll be wise enough to drive legally, and foolish enough to take the corner too fast in the rain and skid into someone’s yard.

The Assignment

Write a three paragraph analysis of what makes you a sophomore. In the first paragraph, discuss how wise you are and how you developed your wisdom.In the second paragraph, discuss how foolish you are and what you’ve learned from your foolishness. In the third paragraph, discuss your educational goals for the year, so that by June, you will have earned the right to be called a junior.

Option: Make it a full 5-paragraph essay with an introduction and a conclusion.

Some Writing Reminders

Students often forget writing basics over the summer. A few reminders will help.

  • Each paragraph begins with a topic sentence that introduces the topic, captures the readers’ attention, uses thought provoking words, and plants questions in the readers’ mind.
  • Each paragraph should contain details that support the topic sentence. These details can be facts, examples, personal experiences, etc.
  • Each paragraph should contain commentary, insight, opinion, elaboration, etc. that show the reader what your facts have to do with the topic sentence.
  • Instead of a traditional essay, student may wish to write a narrative that covers the assignment requirements. Remember, a narrative tells a story. Stories have characters, plot, conflict, etc.
  • Paragraphs may contain dialog.
  • A good high school paragraph contains 8-12 sentences. For stylistic reasons, students may write two or three shorter paragraphs as a substitute for one paragraph. For example, one might break the “wise” paragraph into two shorter paragraphs or several paragraphs with dialog.

Example Paragraph

I always write an example paragraph. Feel free to steal mine:


I’d always wanted to golf in a foreign country. I could tell the locals how throwing your golf bag into the lake after getting plucked in the stomach by your tee shot that ricocheted off the Weeping Willow 40 yards to the left was a token of politeness where I was from.I could feign ignorance as the course custodian ordered me out of the azaleas and into the restroom.In a foreign country, I could curse all I wanted after choking a six-foot putt or chipping the ball 35 yards past the green from the fringe. I could even swear at other golfers while smiling and they would never know I was cursing their ancestry. My fantasy finally became reality.Then I realized Canadians spoke English. Next time I’ll buy a visitor’s guide.

Use this lesson plan at the start of each year to help sophmore’s think about what they would like to achieve in 10th grade and to help you understand the writing strengths and weaknesses of your new class of students.

This post is part of the series: Writing Assignments

Find different writing assignments to give your students.

  1. Writing Lesson Plans: How to Write a Biography
  2. Teach Your Students How to Write Science Fiction
  3. Teaching Instructional Articles: How to Write Instructions
  4. Lesson Plan: How to Write an Essay Introduction
  5. Sophmores Assess Their High School Role While You Assess Their Writing