PLAINFIELD HIGH SCHOOL

Writing Across the Curriculum Resource Center

  


 
Writing Prompts and Samples

In order for Writing Across the Curriculum to be successful, it is essential that teachers know how to construct effective and meaningful writing prompts that will enable students to produce quality written products. In addition, students and parents must have access to the types of questions that students are asked to respond to in writing.

Prior to the school-wide writing event each semester, teachers at Plainfield High School are expected to implement at least one practice formal writing experience for all students in all of their classes. This practice writing experience combines a content-related writing prompt with evaluation based on the PHS 5-point WAC Rubric. As evidence of completion, teachers will submit a "Practice Assessment Form" to their Department Chair in advance of the deadlines listed on the PHS WAC "Important Dates". Click on the following link to download a copy of the Practice Assessment Form:

Samples

The following collection of writing prompts have been gathered and constructed by teachers at Plainfield High School. This list is intended to serve as a guide for educators, students, and parents who are interested in seeing the types of questions teachers of all content areas are using to encourage writing in their classrooms.

Business

Family and Consumer Science

Foreign Language

Fine Arts

Language Arts

Mathematics

Physical Education

Science

Social Studies


Business

  • A recent college graduate has been living at home and working at an entry-level job for three months. He earns $32,000 a year. Now he would like to move into his own apartment. Discuss the issues he needs to consider in making an effective budget.
  • Describe how to prepare a companies balance sheet.

  • Describe the process to reconcile a checkbook

  • Describe the process to mail merge a letter

  • Describe you three favorite Adobe tools.

  • Write a paragraph explaining what the basic steps are for setting up a mail merge in Microsoft Word.

  • What does it take to be a successful typist?

  • Give three examples of how you can print in Microsoft Word.

  • List the steps you used to complete the puzzle cube assignment.

  • How has the technology changed within the past 100 years?

  • What does technology mean to you?

  • The students should write a one page, double spaced, essay on one interesting, exciting, or unusual thing they did this summer, or why they elected to take the class and what they hope to learn.

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Family and Consumer Science

  • Using your living room as your model, how could you apply the principles of Feng Shui?
  • Argue that the Atkins does is (is not) a healthy regimen.
  • What effect does underage drinking have?
  • What effect does divorce have?
  • What effect can tobacco use have?
  • Describe the physical environment in which you would most like to live.

  • How do you deal with your feelings?

  • How can stress affect your health?

  • Tell how abstinence from high-risk behaviors can be important health decisions

  • Describe what you would do if you knew someone was in an abusive relationship.

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Foreign Language

  • Write a letter to a pen pal in a foreign country explaining a typical day in an American high school.
  • Compose a dialogue between two travelers on an airplane. One traveler is returning to Plainfield after a vacation in Mexico; the other traveler is visiting the United States for the first time.
  • Have you ever considered studying abroad at the university level?  State three pros or cons to support your answer.
  • What would an American going to Germany as a foreign exchange student need to know about German culture in order to fit in?  State at least 4 items.
  • What benefits are there to studying a foreign language?  Give at least 3 specific examples
  • Write a paragraph describing an occupation that you would like to pursue and outline how a foreign language would be beneficial in that occupation.  List at least 3.
  • What benefits are there to studying a foreign language?  Give at least 3 specific examples.
  • Write a paragraph describing an occupation that you would like to pursue.  Outline how a foreign language would be beneficial in that occupation.  List at least 3 ways.
  • Write a paragraph describing an occupation that you would like to pursue outlining how a foreign language would be beneficial in that occupation.  List at least 3 benefits.
  • What benefits are there to studying a foreign language?  Give at least 3 specific examples
  • What benefits are there to studying a world language?  Support your answer with 3 examples.
  • What would an American foreign exchange student in France need to know about French culture to fit in?  Cite 4 examples.
  • What occupation would you like to pursue?  List 3 ways a world language would be of benefit in this occupation.
  • Have you considered studying abroad at the university level?  Cite 3 advantages and 3 disadvantages of this experience.
  • Why is it important to study other languages?
  • What would an American going to a Spanish speaking country need to know about the culture to fit in?  State 4 items.
  • What benefits are there to studying a foreign language?  List 3 examples.
  • What benefits are there to studying a foreign language?  Give 3 specific examples.
  • Have you ever considered studying abroad at the university level?  State 3 pros and cons to support your answer.
  • Describe an occupation that you would like to pursue and outline how a foreign language would be beneficial in that occupation.  List at least 3 ways.

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Fine Arts

  • Pick a musician (artist) that you enjoy; pick another musician (artist) that you dislike. List and support your reasons for your differing evaluations.
  • What are your thoughts on the artwork of Chuck Close?  Would you respect him more if he didn’t use a grid?  Why or why not?

  • Why do you think that the public would choose to censor art?  Do you thing that there are ever situations where censorship is necessary?

  • What type of art are you most drawn to?  What type of art are you most confident in doing?

  • Students were given a postcard of a fine arts image – they had to use 3 elements/principles of design (vacab) to describe the art work.

  • Students wrote about their sketchbooks –

    Describe:  The process of bookbinding

    Analyze:  Talk about how you viewed the process

    Predict:  What they are going to use their books for

  • We watched a 9MM art video (Claymation of Art History) Students wrote a response paragraph on what they liked/disliked about the video.
  • Experts fear too much iPod use can result in hearing loss.  Write a paragraph explaining why.
  • Students wrote about the process of working through their projects.
  • Students wrote about the elements and principles of art by examining and describing various works.
  • Students wrote about the process of working through their projects.
  • In paragraph form, explain the sequence of events to be followed for “post performance” activities at band contests.
 

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Language Arts

  • You are an exploratory teacher at the middle school. Explain how you would teach a class of 7th graders to make an outline for a book report on the latest Harry Potter novel.
  • Chaucer's "The Pardoner's Tale" is based on the theme, "Money is the root of all evil." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
  • As the defense attorney for Goldilocks, explain her behavior to a jury. Write your closing argument speech.
  • Develop an essay that examines several significant consequences of Macbeth's meeting the witches.
  • Characteristics of myths and folktales.Motivation for the characters’ behavior in “The Crucible”

  • Trace John’s eventual disillusionment with the “brave new world.”  List specific events and evaluate their significance and effect.  Comment briefly, but critically, on Huxley’s resolution as it relate to John.

  • Explain how either The Lord of the Rings or The Wizard of Oz is a romance.  Be sure to include characteristics of the romance, as well as examples from the text you select, to support your answer.

  • Discuss Mustapha Mond’s defense of the “brave new world.”  Include several specific topics that he and John debateExplain his rationalization.  Summarize the final positions of both Mond and Savage.

  • Why is it essential for journalists to practice the core value of “truth”?

  • Explain how “Sir Gawain & the Green Knight” meets the criteria required to be a romance.

  • Explain how being on a publication will benefit your future.

  • There are many symbols of America and American history.  Some include the Declaration of Independence, the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, the Capital Building and the White House.   Which national monument or symbol of America do you think best represents America?  Why?

  • Describe and give an example of each type of conflict found in Richard Connell's “The Most Dangerous Game.”

  • Explain the importance rules in society.

  • Describe a “monster” that exists in our community and explain the effects this monster has on our community and how we could effectively deal with it.

  • Not all dramas have happy endings – as in the case of The Crucibl. In a paragraph, supply some of the reasons for John Proctor's final decision not to confess his “crime.”  Be specific with your examples.

  • Most fictional literature from medieval England is referred to as Romance Literature.  Discuss how the major elements of Romance Literature are present in both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Le Morte Darthur.

  • In a clear and detailed paragraph, examine Beowulf as if you were a historical critic.  Use specific observations and insights from the literature in order to explain what can be learned about Anglo-Saxon life and culture by reading Beowulf.

  • Some stories are so unrealistic that readers have to suspend their disbelief.  Essentially, this means that even when unbelievable things happen in a story, the writer hopes that readers will “go along with” the story anyway.  In a clear paragraph, locate several details from the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" that forced you to suspend your disbelief and explain why they seemed unbelievable.

  • Career I would dislike the most. Three reasons why.

  • Three characteristics of an epic hero/Beowulf as an example.

  • Choose one of the stories we have read so far and discuss the types of conflict being described.  Consider the following types of conflict: man vs. self, man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society.  Include examples from the test to describe each relevant conflict.

  • Do you agree or disagree with the new state law regarding the pledge of allegiance and moment of silence?  Explain.

  • Students drew three from a jar.  They could choose one and write about it for the assessment.  Topics generated could be a famous quote, current event, or word.  Since this was “impromptu” week in speech class – it worked for their assessment.

  • Discuss the lifestyle differences between the Puritans in New England and the Southern Colonists in the late 1600’s

  • Discuss the similarities between “A Mother’s Song…” (pg. 84 of Literature books) and Billy Joel’s “Lullaby” (I will provide lyrics)

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Mathematics

  • A driver wants to check the miles per gallon of his new car. Describe a method that would allow him to calculate this information.
  • The Browns are going to sell their car to their neighbors, the Smiths, for $3, 250. The Smiths, however, cannot pay the entire sum at one time. Write a contract that includes a down payment, a monthly payment plan, and an interest penalty if the contract is not paid in full by its due date.
  • Explain the difference between a trapezoid and a parallelogram.
  • The point-slope form of the equation of a line is y-2+1/2(x+6). Write the equation in slope-intercept form; then write the equation in standard form. Which of the three forms of the equation is the most useful? Explain your choice.
  • Write a word problem for the inequality 2 + 1/4 x < 10. Solve your problem and explain the meaning of your answer. Graph the solution of the inequality 2 + 1/4 x < 10. Does the graph have meaning for your word problem? Why or why not?
  • When describing a system of two linear equations, a student indicated that the system was inconsistent and dependent. Discuss the meaning of the student's description. Then assess the student's understanding of these terms.
  • Write the (a) conditional, (b) converse, (c) inverse, and (d) contra positive for the following example:  “Zebras are animals with stripes.”  Then decide whether each statement is true or false AND defend its validity.  Tell why.
  • A) Explain the method you use to graph piecewise-defined functions.  B) Describe the procedure you would use to graph f(x)=2(x-3)+4.
  • Given the linear equation 3x + 5y = 25, explain the step required to write the equation in slope-intercept form.  Then identify the slope and the y-intercept.
  • Discuss the similarities and differences between parallel, perpendicular, and skew lines.
  • Explain the three steps involved in solving equations.
  • Explain how Descartes’ discovery at the coordinate plane changed mathematics.
  • You want to graph the line whose equation is 3x-7y=21 using the slope and y-intercept.  Write a paragraph describing the steps you would take to complete the task.

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Physical Education

  • Explain the technique for the three Core Lifts in APC.
  • Explain your process for achieving the number goals you have set for Bench, Squat, and Clean.
  • What is the most important lift in APC? Why?
  • How can training improve your performance in your sport or your fitness?
  • Design a sports specific workout for your sport.
  • Name one skill taught in flag football and explain why it is important to physical education

  • Describe the technique of the squat exercise in detail using tips and techniques given to you in AP class.

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Science

  • Explain how science affects one of the following activities: eating habits; leisure activities; shopping patterns.
  • Explain the physics involved in a piece of playground equipment.
  • Respond to the following statement: "All substances are either soluble or insoluble. If I put some stuff in water and nothing appears to happen, then it must be completely insoluble. A solubility chart can tell me this information and it is always correct."
  • Explain how to calculate the pH of a base solution.
  • The molecules BF3 and NH3 both have covalent bonds. Explain why BF3 is described as a trigonal planer shape while NH3 is described as a trigonal pyramidal shape.
  • Write a paragraph explaining the differences between a real gas and an ideal gas. Use the ideas from the kinetic molecular theory, and give examples of when an ideal gas may be described as a real gas.
  • Write a paragraph describing the characteristics of living things.  Include at least 5 of the following in your description: cells, reproduction, universal genetic code, development, materials and energy, interaction, homeostasis, evolution
  • After reading Passage 1, “The Science of Chemistry,” do you generally think of chemicals in negative terms as described in paragraph three or do you think of them with a more positive point of view as described in paragraph four?  Why?  Please explain your point of view with a paragraph.  Use the “Writing Across the Curriculum: template to help organize your thoughts before beginning your paragraph.
  • Explain how the structure of the four types of organic molecules relate to function.
  • What is the most important mineral?  Why?
  • In regard to the US’s dependency on petroleum, what will it take for a change to occur?
  • What issues stand in the way of making a change to using gasoline as our primary fuel source?  

  • Write a paragraph explaining the importance of micro organisms to humans.  Identify at least 3 ways and give an example of each.

  • Write a paragraph describing a carnivore, such as a fox, as viewed through the eyes of its prey, such as a mouse.

  • Using a given concept map students were to write a paragraph explaining each segment and its relation to a theory and a law.

  • Out of the 4 types of maps we studied, the students had to chose one and write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the 2 map projections.

  • Modern technology has certainly helped to make our lives easier.  Or has it?  With all the technological advances we have today, it seems that we are busier than ever.  Some historians could make the argument that the development of modern technology has actually made us a busier and more stressed society.  Others could make the argument that technology has allowed us as a society to become more efficient and therefore more productive.

  • Write a paragraph about your opinion of modern technology and how it has affected our society.  Try to think of at least one example to support each of the three theories given above.  Your technology example can come from one of two categories.  The first category contains examples of technology that have been developed over the last 30-50 years, focusing on how your life as a teenager is different than your parents’ lives as teenagers.  The second category contains examples of technology that have been developed over the last 100+ years, focusing on how your life is different than those who lived a century (or more) ago.  In order to keep your argument consistent, use examples from only one category of technology throughout your paragraph.  Complete your paragraph by stating, with evidence in the form of examples, which of the three theories stated in the opening paragraph you believe the most.

  • Read the passage on page 59 in your textbook about arsenic treated wood.  In one paragraph, using the writing template, answer the following questions:

    1. Which viewpoint was most convincing to you?

    2. Of the viewpoint that you chose, did the argument completely convince your, or do you need more information to be completely convinced?

    3. If no (you don’t need more information to be convinced), what was the most convincing part of the argument?

    4. If yes (you do need more information to be convinced), what additional information would have been more convincing?

  • After reading a news article on Mars, explain why water is such an important asset of life.
  • Explain the difference between quantitative and qualitative data.  In your exploration, give examples of the two types of data.

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Social Studies

  • One of the following national holidays must be eliminated. Which one? Why?
    • President's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Labor Day
  • Write a diary entry for any historical event. Include specific details, as well as personal reactions.
  • If you create an ideal political candidate, which quality of President Bush would you include? Why? Which quality of Senator John Kerry would you include? Why?
  • Research Guy Fawkes. Was he a terrorist? Why? Why not?
  • How does Greek geography affect its culture?
  • How does Indiana geography affect its culture?
  • Explain the importance of rules of society.
  • Pick and defend a position in favor or/or against high speed police chases.
  • Write a diary with your reactions to the article about the Untouchables of India.
  • Write an editorial over the reading Sociological Themes in the Smurfs by J. Marc Schmidt.
  • What conditions cause a black market to occur?  What can be done to prevent this from happening?
  • How was the democracy in Ancient Greece a forerunner to the government we currently have in the United States?
  • The 8th Amendment forbid cruel and unusual punishment.  Do you support the death penalty as it is currently used?  Why or why not.
  • Discuss the eight factors that effect climate.
  • How did 9-11 change your world?
  • Identify and describe the 4 parenting styles.  Compare and contrast each.  Next, describe which style best fits your parents/grandparents.
  • Describe what life would be like in a society free of social norms.
  • Using specific examples, identify five important figures from the Age of Discovery.  Rank these from least to most important base on the impact they had on history.

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