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Grades 11–12
Narrative
Sparks

Philosophical Journal Prompts

Lindsay Thompson, 826 Digital Educator Leader

Lindsay Thompson, a 5th-generation teacher, has 22 years of experience teaching high school English. She understands the importance of building strong relationships with her students and is always looking for ways to help students be more confident writers.

What Your Students Will Learn

Students will learn how to develop a consistent writing practice.

Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.10
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
What Your Students Will Produce

See more Lessons from Educator Leaders

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Letters, Undelivered

by Maria Villareal, 826CHI

Informational
Narrative

This activity prompts students to write words unspoken, in letters undelivered.

Grades 1–12
Sparks
A Good Time to Write: Remote Learning Kit

by 826 National

Informational
Media
Memoir
Narrative
Persuasive
Poetry

Engage young writers of any age at home with this collection of 826 Digital writing prompts and activities.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Fairy Tale Reconstruction

by Marini Drobish, 826 Digital Educator Leader

Narrative

This lesson invites students to write a modern day fairy tale. Students will reconstruct classic fairy tales by choosing to focus on altering one story element: setting, point of view, or resolution.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Yes, And

by Jessica Thompson, 826 Dallas Project, and the Dallas Free Press

Narrative

This Spark uses a popular improv game to show students the value of their ideas and the importance of keeping an open mind while writing.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Playing with Timelines with Phil Stamper

by Phil Stamper, author

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

With this pair of prompts, students look to the past and future for writing inspiration.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
A Place Worth Being with Jason Reynolds

by Jason Reynolds, The New York Times Best-Selling Author & National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Narrative

Students will write a personal narrative where they describe themselves as a place. Not a specific place, but all the things a "place" consists of.

Grades 5–12
Sparks
Telephone Pictionary

by 826 National

Narrative

By combining two classic games, students will learn how storytelling and art can build community or help them break through writer’s block.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Your Front Door

by Maria Villareal, 826CHI

Narrative

An effective writing prompt about a significant threshold.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Personal Narratives with Mariama Lockington

by Mariama Lockington, novelist and poet

Memoir
Narrative

Students revisit powerful memories to generate personal stories filled with heart.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Taboo Emotions with Tiphanie Yanique

by author Tiphanie Yanique

Narrative

In this Spark, students will explore two taboo emotions, desire and fear, by mapping where these feelings dwell in their bodies and using tactile language to describe their impact.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Perspectives with Daniel Ehrenhaft

by David Ehrenhaft

Narrative

Daniel Ehrenhaft asks students to consider perspective in a piece of their writing with this reflective spark.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Life in the Time of Coronavirus

by Princess McDowell, the 826 Dallas Project

Narrative

Whether students write to process, to remember, to imagine, or to heal, this collection of prompts asks students to recognize how their world has changed in response to COVID-19.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Making Conversation with P. Carl

by author and activist P. Carl

Media
Narrative

Author and activist P. Carl asks students to write dialogue that captures two distinct and opposing voices, crafting a scene of action and discord.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Something True with Kelly Jensen

by Kelly Jensen, writer and editor

Informational
Memoir
Narrative

Make space for creativity in nonfiction! Students will play with traditional nonfiction formats with these two writing prompts from Kelly Jensen, writer and editor.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Last Times with Amanda Gorman

by Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S. and 2021 Inaugural Poet

Narrative
Poetry

Students recall “last times” in their lives and revisit the depth of their experience through writing.

Grades 5–12
Sparks
Exploring Voice
by Academy of American Poets

by 826 National, in partnership with Academy of American Poets

Poetry

In this Spark, students will learn more about voice: what it is exactly, and how to name the elements of it.

Grades 7–11
Sparks
Screenwriting with Spike Jonze

by Spike Jonze, award-winning screenwriter and producer

Media
Narrative

A pair of prompts that invites students to consider how time, location, and dialogue can be used to construct a scene and build meaning.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Ghost Stories with Karen Russell

by Karen Russell, novelist and short story writer

Narrative

A hauntingly good pair of prompts! Students will reconsider the purpose of ghosts by either describing a haunted setting or writing from the perspective of a misunderstood ghost.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Writing to Process (Secondary)

by Asia Calcagno, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative
Poetry

Writing can be a powerful tool when working through feelings of grief, sadness, or anger. This Spark creates an intentional opportunity for youth to write and speak about what is on their minds.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Write with Pride

by Molly Sprayregen, 826CHI

Poetry

Students consider the influence that labels hold and write poetry to become empowered to describe themselves however they want.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Emulation Poetry

by Jillian Wasick, 826 Valencia

Narrative
Poetry

To jumpstart their own poems, students take inspiration from the poetry of the others.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
What Makes a Person? with Leslie Margolis

by Leslie Margolis

Informational
Narrative

Leslie Margolis invites students to consider their own personhood and what determines or defines it with two short prompts.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Protester Portraits

by 826 National

Informational
Media
Narrative

Students consider perspectives of activists speaking up against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd and use imagery to capture protest scenes in writing.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Memories of Home with Rebecca Stead

by Rebecca Stead

Narrative

Using a place with personal meaning, students will learn a strategy for getting over the hurdle of beginning the writing process.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Four Corners

by Cristeta Boarini, 826 MSP

Narrative

This activity prompts students to use words related to community and identity to reframe ancestral stories of resistance, growth, and survival.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Memory Line

by Anna Griffin, 826 National

Memoir
Narrative
Poetry

Students plot significant memories on a timeline in this reflective writing activity.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
How to Write an Anti-Ode

by 826 National, inspired by student authors of 826 New Orleans

Poetry

Usually, an ode is written in celebration, but this Spark asks students to write an anti-ode—a poem about something they can’t stand!

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Objects and Habits with Isaac Fitzgerald

by Isaac Fitzgerald

Narrative

In this Spark, students will mine their home and their habits for story and personal essay ideas.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
The Beast with Ada Limón

by Ada Limón

Poetry

This poetry prompt from Ada Limón invites students to consider a personal connection to an animal.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Playing With Words with Aracelis Girmay

by Aracelis Girmay in collaboration with Aarti Monteiro & Nico Garbaccio, 826NYC

Narrative
Poetry

What lives inside a word? Find out how to trace connections between two dissimilar words with this playful Spark from award-winning poet Aracelis Girmay.

Grades 4–12
Sparks
Tell Me a Story

by 826 National

Narrative

This Spark provides students with the opportunity to get to know their classmates by sharing personal stories about a specific topic.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Elevate Your Voice with Rachel Eliza Griffiths

by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Poetry

This poetry prompt from Rachel Eliza Griffiths asks students to consider the ordinary in their lives—then write a poem that celebrates those ordinary objects and figures.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Tell Me About Yourself: Interview Practice

by Jessica Thompson, 826 Dallas Project, and the Dallas Free Press

Informational
Media
Narrative

In this Spark, students will learn more about conducting interviews and practice by interviewing a classmate.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Identity Statements

by Rebeca Darugar, 826NYC

Memoir
Narrative

Students create an identity chart and write about parts of their identity most salient to them.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
“The Hill We Climb”

by 826 National

Poetry

Students discuss the 2021 inaugural poem by Amanda Gorman and write their own poems in response to "The Hill We Climb."

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Write Here, Write Now

by 826 National

Informational
Narrative
Persuasive
Poetry

These 10 prompts ask students to browse the 826 Digital Student Writing Gallery for writing inspiration.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Location, Location, Location with G.D. Falksen

by G.D. Falksen

Narrative

Students draw inspiration from a real or fictional location and use this sense of place to develop an in-setting document.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
No Lab Coats Required: The Writing Laboratory

by Katie Manning and Brandon Brown, 826LA

Narrative
Poetry

Students enter a Writing Laboratory, no lab coats required, and use methods of observation to embark on their writing process.

Grades 5–12
Sparks
Exploring Connections
by Academy of American Poets

by 826 National, in partnership with Academy of American Poets

Narrative
Poetry

In this Spark, students will explore the many ways you can connect to a poem.

Grades 2–12
Sparks
Author Bios

by Cristeta Boarini, 826 MSP

Narrative

Author bios offer students another opportunity to express themselves through writing and to feel like a real author. This Spark walks students through the process of writing one.

Grades 8–12
Sparks
The Freedom to Read Teen Writing Contest
by The New York Public Library

by The New York Public Library

Memoir
Persuasive

At a time of rising book bans, The New York Public Library invites all teens, wherever in the United States you live, to make your voices heard.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Social Movements with Lisa Ko

by author Lisa Ko

Fantasy/SciFi
Informational
Narrative

This writing prompt from author Lisa Ko invites students to explore the impact of social movements by envisioning and writing from an ideal future.