Texas has put a great emphasis on writing skills at all levels of school and all levels of state-wide testing. Ready Writing, a contest for students in grades 6,7 and 8, builds upon those skills and helps students refine their writing abilities. In particular, this contest helps them to learn to write clearly and correctly a paper that is interesting and original.
A standard dictionary or thesaurus may be used during the contest.
Contestants are given a choice between two prompts which defines the audience and provides the purpose for writing. Students should be encouraged to analyze the prompts for the purpose of writing, the format, the audience and the point of view. The format may be, for example, a letter, an article for the newspaper or an essay for the principal. Various writing strategies may be stated or implied in the prompt. Some of these include:
- description to inform -- describe the happening or person/object from imagination or memory;
- narration -- write a story;
- persuasion -- describe and argue just one side of an issue; describe both sides of an issue then argue only one side; write an editorial; write a letter to persuade, etc.
There is no minimum or maximum number of words the contestants must write.
Sample Writing Prompts
Instructions: Select only one of the topics which follow. Write the topic you have chosen at the top of your paper. Remember not to use your name or any reference to your school in your composition.
- Competition: Students enjoy competing in sports and other activities, but sometimes winning seems to be the only important thing. Your teacher has asked you to write a paper explaining how you benefit from competition when you don't win.
- Recycling: As Americans became better and better about recycling glass, metals, plastics and paper, new ways are being developed to create products from these recycled materials. Write a paper explaining how recycled material is being used now and how it might be used in the future.
- Learning that can't be tested: Although more emphasis is being placed on standardized test scores such as STAAR, many of the important things students learn by going to school can't be measured on such tests. Write a paper describing the important lessons or values you have learned in school or through school activities that can't be tested with pencil and paper.
- Time capsule: The social studies classes at your school are creating a time capsule, and each class must decide what they think should be included. Choose items that would help someone opening the time capsule 50 years from now to understand how young people live in your community today. Write a report for your class explaining what you think should be included and why.
- TV Role Models: Your class is discussing role models and how special people influence our daily lives. Television shows often have characters that provide people with positive role models. Think about one of your favorite television characters and prepare a paper for your class on how that character has had a positive influence on you.
- New School: Your school counselor has set up a group discussion session for new students in your school. The counselor will select a few students already attending your school to help familiarize the new students with the school. Write a letter to the counselor explaining what you would like to say about your school to these new students.
Seventh and Eighth Grades
- American Forces Abroad: In recent years, American military forces have served in trouble spots on several continents. Some people believe that U.S. forces should be used only when a threat to our national security exists. Others argue that as a world power, we have a responsibility to respond to nations in need. Write a letter to the President explaining when you believe the use of U.S. forces in foreign countries is appropriate.
- Crime Reduction: While some types of crime are decreasing in America, the number of crimes committed by teenagers continues to grow. Experts have different opinions about the most effective ways to treat or punish youthful offenders. Write a paper explaining what approaches you think would work best to reduce crime by teenagers.
- Character: Someone once observed, "Character is what you do when you think no one is watching." Write an essay expressing your opinion about what this quotation means.
- Leadership: Many political campaigns focus on presenting their candidate as "the most qualified leader" in a race, and therefore the person who should be elected. Write a paper explaining what specific qualities you think makes a person a truly effective leader.
- School Facilities: School facilities are built at great expense to the taxpayers, yet they sit vacant during summer vacation. Your school board has asked students to provide input on the possibility of using school facilities during the summer. Write an essay from the students' point of view for the school board concerning this issue.
- Goodwill Project: Your class has decided to adopt a project for the year. Some of the students want to conduct a local food drive, while others want to adopt a specific family to assist. Decide which of the two projects you want the class to choose. Write a paper supporting your choice.