Something To Write About 123123 Something To Write About
Write from your heart!
It speaks your special truth.
Something To Write About iii Something To Write About
This book is about nothing other than things to write about…your family,
your friends, your old life and your new life, feelings, dreams and goals.
I created this book of writing prompts over the years teaching English lan-
guage learners and literacy students. Its intent is to help students discover
their writers’ voices and express the rich thoughts within them as they master
the English language.
These writing prompts encourage students of all ages to write about the things
in their lives that are meaningful to them—their childhood memories and
family stories, the people they love and admire, their hopes for the future, their
deepest beliefs. I have always believed that everyone has a story to tell—if
only someone would ask, if only someone would listen. This book gives teach-
ers a way to draw out students’ stories and help them communicate their
thoughts through writing.
Encouraging immigrant students to write is so important because it helps
them better weather the enormous stress they experience as they learn
their hard-won English language and adjust to life in a new land far away
from their original homes. Students have told me that they often feel
overwhelmed by the pressures of adjusting to a new country and hide their
feelings, keeping them locked inside. Writing can change this, writing has
the power to help us nd self-understanding and hope and take pride in
our lives. As someone who was very shy and verbally inarticulate as a child,
as someone who had difculty speaking up, I remember the power I felt
when I began to express my ideas on paper and have those ideas read by
others. Even today, I’d rather write than talk.
Much of my work in encouraging students to write is to help them tap into
the memories which feed and nurture them. By asking students to recall
their past, teachers help them reveal the great richness of their lives. From
the stories they write about their lives and then read in class, we learn from
these writers that they are more than just struggling students who are try-
ing to improve their English skills. We recognize them as full human beings
with a history behind them and a future ahead. They are worthy of our
respect and deserve to be heard.
In using the writing prompts in the classroom, I usually also provide some
reading material that will relate to the prompt we will use that day. For
example, if we are to write about a favorite relative or friend, I might provide
as handouts a short essay, newspaper clipping or book excerpt in which
the writer talks about such a person. Students take turns reading this aloud.
Then we discuss the content. All this prepares students to think about the
day’s subject. (A rich resource for such handouts is the excellent annual
Literacy Review of immigrants’ writings published by New York University’s
Gallatin School of Individualized Study—http://gallatin.nyu.edu/academics/
As my students write, I play a CD with some quiet, meditative music to help
them relax and get in touch with their memories and thoughts. The music
helps transform the classroom into a sacred writing space where the most
wonderful writing is done.
When the students complete their pieces, they are encouraged to read
aloud what they have written. Doing so helps validate the importance of the
thoughts they have expressed in their written words and broadens the think-
ing of the other students. We quickly learn that each of us has something
valuable to impart to others. Students also are welcome to rst experiment
with their essay ideas by creating a comic strip at MakeBeliefsComix.com,
another useful resource for the classroom.
A Word to Teachers and Students...