The ability to provide information in different contexts is essential to effective communication. Students must practice expository writing throughout their academic careers. The sooner they start, the better. Below are some descriptive, sequential, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem/solution writing prompts to help you give your students the practice they need.
- Write an essay describing your school to a potentially new student.
- Write an essay describing the appeal of reality TV shows.
- Write an essay describing a rainy night.
- Write an essay describing your first pet.
- Write an essay describing your first memory.
- It’s Christmas morning and there is a package under the tree containing exactly what you requested. Describe the contents of your package..
- Write an essay describing how you feel when you wake up and discover snow on the ground outside — and school has been cancelled.
- Writing an essay explaining the process you use to style your hair in the morning.
- You have invited your two best friends to spend the afternoon at your home. Write an essay telling how your prepare for their visit.
- Everyone has lost something at one time or another. Write an essay telling what you did to find what you had lost.
- Describe how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- Tell how you wash your hair.
- Describe the plot of your favorite book.
Compare and Contrast
- Write an essay comparing and contrasting ownership of cats and dogs.
- Compare and contrast this year in school to last year.
- Compare and contrast your two favorite characters.
- Compare and contrast your family’s home and the home of your dreams.
- Compare and contrast a typical day in your life today and what you think a typical day in your life will be like when you are 25.
- Compare and contrast your two favorite teachers.
Cause and Effect
- Write an essay telling how peer pressure has affected you this year.
- Write an essay explaining what causes students to drop out of high school.
- Discuss the causes and effects of bullying in schools.
- Discuss the causes and effects of poverty in rural (urban) areas.
- Discuss the causes and effects of drug or alcohol use on families.
- Most students do not read or watch news, resulting in a lack of knowledge about the world outside of their immediate neighborhood. Write an essay describing why this is a problem and telling how this problem might be solved.
- Think about the community in which you live. What could you do to make it a better place? Choose one problem that needs to be solved to make your community a better place to live. Write a letter to the editor describing how solving this problem would make your community a better place, and tell what you would do. Give reasons why you think your plan would work.
- Think about what you could do to make your school more beautiful. Think about how you would do this. How could you persuade the people in your school that your idea is a good one? Write a letter to the principal of your school asking for support for your plan for making your school more beautiful. Tell what you would do and how you would do it. Explain why you think your plan is important and why it would work.
- Think about animal abuse. Some people abuse animals by being intentionally cruel to them or neglecting their basic needs; others abuse animals out of ignorance. Think about what could be done to prevent both kinds of animal abuse. Write a letter to leaders in your community describing how you would solve this problem, and how treating animals better would improve the lives of animals and people. Explain why you think your plan will work.
I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma graduate student, and a NBPTS candidate. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify my students’ voices and choices.
Filed Under: PedagogyTagged With: expository writing prompts
In middle school, the use of writing prompts are a wondrous thing. Those simple sentences propel students into unleashing their creativity, understanding their core values and rethinking some of their past actions. They’re still coming of age so their responses can be emotional and insightful—for you and the student. Writing prompts are one of the most effective ways to develop confident writers who enjoy the process. We rounded up 24 of the best writing prompts for middle school students who are still finding their writing voice!
1. Uncover their hidden strengths
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Write a narrative about a time when you did something you thought you could not do. Be sure to include specific details so that a reader can follow your story.
2. Let them take the reins
Attach an image (photo, magazine, etc.) to a notebook page and write about it.
3. Have them daydream about the not-so-distant future
Imagine a future in which we each have a personalized robot servant. What would yours be like? Describe what it would do and the features it would have.
4. Allow their creativity and core values to intersect
Create a brand new holiday with its own traditions, rituals, foods, and activities.
5. Let them map out their long term goals and life plans
Make your bucket list for the next five years, the next ten years, and for life.
6. Put their family life at the front of their minds.
Think about hospitality in your family. What’s it like to have guests in your house? Do you prefer to have friends to your house or to go to a friend’s house?
7. Have them think about traits that are important to possess in today’s world
Write about someone who has no enemies. Is it even possible?
8. In a world of a “fake news”—where do they stand?
Can honesty honestly be bad? Write about someone, fact or fiction, who gets in trouble for being too truthful.
9. Reinforce the importance books have in their lives
Remember a favorite book from your childhood. Write a scene that includes you and an old copy of that book you find somewhere.
10. Explore the weight that words hold between two people
William Shakespeare wrote that: “Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.” Write your thoughts about conversation, or make up dialogue between two characters who are meeting each other for the first time in an unexpected place.
11. Have them evaluate where they’ve been and where they want to be
You have a chance to go back and completely re-do an event in your life. What is it, and how to you change it? What is the outcome? This can be a real or fictional event.
12. Let pop culture intersect with their school life
You get to guest star on a TV show. What show is it? What happens in this particular episode?
13. Put them in an unusual, highly unlikely situation
Write a poem entitled “Hitchhiking on a Saturday Afternoon.”
14. Let them dive deep into the influence they want to have with their friends
Persuade a friend to give up drugs.
15. Take one line, watch a million different possibilities unfold
“Did she actually just say that?” Write a scene that includes this line.
16. Stretch their brain and pun power
Create a menu from a fictitious restaurant. Make sure the restaurant has a theme, such as Classic Books, and the food should all be given appropriate names (e.g., “Mockingbird Pie”).
17. Find out how they connect with their community
List the most attractive things about your current hometown. Now list the most unattractive things.
18. Take on the ultimate “what-if” scenario . . . one everyone secretly dreams of . . .
What would you do if you woke up one morning to find yourself invisible?
19. Unleash good vibes
Write a list of at least 50 things that make you feel good.
20. Have them question everything
Begin a list of questions that you’d like to have answered. They may be about the future or the past.
21. Take on their passions
What’s, if anything, would you be willing to fight or even die for? Explain your answer.
22. Make some music
Make a soundtrack for your life so far. List songs that describe you or different times of your life. (Make the actual soundtrack on Spotify, etc. too!)
23. Dig into their integrity
Did you ever stick up for someone?
24. Ask a simple question that may provoke surprising answers
What is it like to go shopping with your mother or another person in your family?
What do you think are the best writing prompts for middle school students? We’d love to add to this list. Please share in the comments.