29 Back-to-School Writing Prompts for Middle and High School

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The first day of school is approaching, and as a teacher, your schedule is likely already filling up with organizational and instructional prep work. However, despite all of your efforts, you may find that some students may emerge slowly from their summer hazes.

Before your middle school or high school students start their assigned reading, get them engaged with these back-to-school writing prompts. Fill up some class time with a few warm-up writing prompts below, or send students home with a larger assignment to get them back into the swing of things!

First Day of School Writing Prompts: Middle School Students

Grades 7–8

Classroom Prompt Assignments

  1. Stream of consciousness is when a character lets their thoughts continuously flow. Write a stream of consciousness story of your own and see where your thoughts take you.
  2. For the new school year, what new skill would you choose to learn if you had the time, money, and ability? Why?
  3. Write a critique of a book, movie, or show you recently read or watched. What were its strong points? What were its weak ones?
  4. Describe the reigning emotions you felt this summer. Why did you feel that way, and how do you think these emotions might change as the school year progresses?
  5. Choose a place you traveled to this summer, either locally or far away, and write a blog post about that location. Should other people visit as well? It could be a restaurant, a town, a shop, or a favorite spot to hang out.
  6. If there is a club, sport, class, or event you are excited about this year, write what you already know about it. Follow up with some expectations that you have for the experience and yourself.
  7. A flashbulb memory is a very detailed memory that you have from when you were young. Do you have any memories like that, and if so, what are they about? Are there any events that have happened recently that you think you will remember for a long time?
  8. Do you have any traditions? If not, which one would you want to start this year?
  9. Describe the most memorable school project that you’ve ever done. Would you like to do a similar project this year, and if so, how can it be adapted to what you’re learning now?
  10. If you could create a themed book display for your school library, what would it be? Which titles would it include, and why?

Take-Home Writing Assignments

  1. Write a letter to your younger self, and then another to your older self.
  2. One important rule of creative writing is to “Show Don’t Tell.” Write a 1,500-word short story in your favorite genre, following this rule.
  3. Write a local wildlife guide to your backyard, neighborhood, local park,
    or even the school itself. What flora and fauna exist there?
  4. Write a 1,000-word essay about an aspect of your summer that focuses on the five senses—Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch.

First Day of School Writing Prompts: High School Students

Grade 9–12

Classroom Prompt Assignments

  1. Set three resolutions for yourself to accomplish this year and describe why those are the ones you chose.
  2. Write a list of How-To instructions for something that you know how to do. It could be making a meal, cleaning something, playing a game, babysitting, drawing a picture, etc.
  3. Create a dream college for you to attend once you graduate. Which academic programs does it offer? What sports, art classes, and clubs are offered? Where is it located?
  4. Write a short story using only dialogue. Work on creating different voices for each character. If it helps, take notes on each character before the dialogue starts. Does one character use slang? Is the other excitable? Is one character older than the other?
  5. Write a song on a subject that isn’t usually heard in other songs.
  6. Create a new class for your school to offer. Why do you think that class is necessary? What are the learning goals for that class, and what are the assignments?
  7. Which app do you spend the most time on? What are the positive aspects of using the app? What are the negatives?
  8. Is there a cause that you want to be a part of? What is it, and why is it important to you?
  9. Create a new club for your community or school. What is the club about? What are your goals, and who do you hope will join?
  10. Describe three things that you are looking forward to this year.

Take-Home Writing Assignments

  1. What is your ultimate dream job? Research the industry, company, or role you’re interested in and report on what it is and how to get there. Conclude with your expectations before and after your research. Is the job what you thought it was?
  2. Choose a position with the local government to run for and outline a platform to run on. Then, write a speech to voters about your platform. Make sure to research your current representatives to learn what their platforms are.
  3. What is going on in the town or city that you live in? Research local events, places, volunteer opportunities, parks, clubs, etc. Visit a new place or attend a new event, then write a review of your experiences using descriptive language. Would you go back again? Why or why not?
  4. An executive summary is an intro to a business plan that is designed to grab the reader’s attention by summarizing what the new business will accomplish. Write an executive summary between 500 and 1,000 words for a product, venture, or business that you wish existed.
  5. Research a historical figure that looks a little like you do (bonus points if you’ve never heard of them before now). What did they accomplish?

No matter how much or how little your students read this summer, get their creativity flowing with these thought-provoking journal prompts to kick off the year. By focusing on descriptive language, persuasive arguments, and ideas for the future, your middle school or high school class will find their writer's stride in no time.

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