“The point of the essay is to change things.”
— Edward Tufte
When I was in school, if I was told to write about anything I wanted, it was a signal for my brain to run in circles like a dog chasing it’s tail. Therefore, I like to give my writing students a place to start. Using a prompt isn’t the answer to writing an essay that changes things, but it certainly gets the ball rolling.
If you are using the essay prompts from Living Outside the Lines as part of your curriculum this year you might find this post, What Did Ē-ssay helpful. It includes simple definitions for the various types of essays you might want to assign your child to write and links to a couple of reviews on writing curriculum. If you would like to take the tension out of grading your child’s writing assignments you might find these files helpful. Essay Rubric,General Grading Guidelines for Essays, or A Grading Rubric Helps the Student and Teacher.
Themes in a novel make good writing prompts. Revenge, religion, madness and deception are themes in Hamlet. One might compare the madness of Hamlet and Ophelia or analyze Hamlet’s attitude toward revenge. I would enjoy reading an essay about the ghost — What is it? Where does it come from? What purpose does it play in the story? If you want help writing essay prompts for your literature club friends I am happy to share the writing assignment ideas for Hamlet that I gave to the families in our club. There are prompts for high school and middle schoolers.