Just wanted to write a quick note about my English 1A students. They continue to amaze me. Usually the first essay I assign in class is a narrative essay about a person they respect (someone who embodies wisdom, compassion, or courage). I've read a lot of compelling essays based upon that assignment, but I noticed over the last few semesters that the students were becoming more focused on listening and recording the narratives of others, and not sharing their thoughts and opinions.
Years ago I use to assign autobiographical essays, but I stopped doing that because many students claimed they didn't have anything relevant to say. However, looking back I think it may have been that their teacher (yours truly) just didn't give them the right inspiration.
This semester I asked the students to write an essay inspired by this phrase:
"We can do this the hard way or the easy way." And I asked them, what life lesson did you learn the hard way.
Turns out, every student has a story about this. (At least they do in my classes.) And some of them have created something that's far beyond a typical homework assignment. I'm so grateful that so many of my students are already pushing themselves this semester. Hopefully, they'll take what they've learned about narratives and apply it to their argument essays.