Variety is the Spice of Life!

I interviewed a college student and friend of mine, Courtney Kennedy, who is a Psychology major, in order to gain some insight into what types of writing tasks were most helpful to her in high school. I also asked her about other tasks and teacher techniques that aided in improving her writing and what could be done to make writing more interesting. Courtney, whose favorite subject in high school was Algebra II, said the key to her enjoying writing lessons was that there had to be variety.  Some prompts that her teachers offered were quotes from famous people and these were the prompts she enjoyed most. Her favorite one, she recalls, was a quote that stated “Stop going around saying the world owes you anything. The world owes you nothing, it was here first.” The assignment was to interpret the quote, and I found this interesting because prompts like this can motivate students to produce thought provoking writing by causing them to think about serious topics or ideas.
Another theme in Courtney’s interview is that of a student’s choice in what they write. This obviously will not work all the time (what student would choose to write an eight page research paper), but simple writing prompts such as journals and opinion based responses could open up students to the world of writing. Having the students write about something they care about and asking for their opinions can lead into argumentative papers based on an opinion that must be supported with factual evidence.
When asked about varied prompts for an assignment and whether or not they helped her in her writing her response was “Two different prompts for the same assignment: –Yes, because variety is always helpful, and giving students a choice makes writing easier.” As the saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life.” If a student is given only one writing prompt on an exam and they don’t have a firm grasp of the subject matter, they will not do well on the exam. But, if the teacher provides several different prompts, or at least two or three, it provides the student with a better opportunity to show the teacher their knowledge. The moral of the story is: don’t do the same things every day. Students will become easily bored and unenthused with the material. By changing it up, you, the teacher, can interact with your class on a level that not only engages them in the activity, but also challenges their minds and gets them thinking! Here is a powerpoint presentation that has a variety of writing tasks and prompts!


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