One of the simplest ways to get to know your new students is to have them write about themselves. This is one of the reasons why I typically assign a personal narrative essay within the first couple weeks of school. I don’t grade these essays critically, and I don’t look for specific grammatical errors, either. Instead, I am interested in getting to know my students. I want to know who they are. I want to know where they come from. I want to know what they’ve experienced. I want to know their hopes, their dreams, their failures, and their fears.
Getting to know my students through their personal narratives allows me to have a glimpse into their life –one that if often times very beneficial for me as their English teacher.
Assigning a personal narrative in the beginning of the school year doesn’t have to mean assigning a full, five-paragraph essay. These personal narratives can be anywhere between a sentence long to several paragraphs.
Here are some of my go-to back-to-school writing prompts for secondary students.
About Summer Vacation
- What did you do over summer break?
- What was your favorite thing about summer break?
- What was your least favorite part of summer break?
- What song best represents your summer break and why?
- What movie best represents your summer break and why?
- What life lessons did you learn over summer break?
- What accomplishments did you achieve over summer break?
- What hardships did you experience over summer break?
About Last School Year
- What was your favorite thing about school last year?
- What was your least favorite part about school last year?
- What class was your favorite and why?
- Which class did you struggle with the most and why?
- What life lessons did you learn last school year?
- What accomplishments did you achieve last school year?
- What hardships did you experience last school year?
- What obstacles did you face last school year and how did you overcome them?
About This School Year
- What are your goals for this school year?
- What is the most frightening thing about a new school year?
- What is the most exciting thing about a new school year?
- What are you most excited for this year?
- What are you dreading about this school year?
- What current obstacles or hardships are you facing this school year?
- As your teacher, how can I best help you succeed in my classroom?
- What do you want me to know about you?
About Life in General
- What is your most cherished childhood memory? Describe the event/memory in detail.
- What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced? How did you overcome this obstacle?
- What is your life dream and how to you plan to achieve it?
- Describe the most frightening moment of your life.
- What are you most proud of and why?
- What is a typical day in your life like? Explain in detail.
If you are looking for more back to school activities, CLICK HERE to check out my Back to School Activities for the secondary classroom unit! This resource includes multiple activities and ice-breakers for the first few days of school.
Going digital this year? I transformed my BTS activity packet to for the growing need for digital resources. Check out my SMARTePlans Back to School Activities for the Google Classroom!