Students have a hard time brainstorming--especially about themselves. To make writing the College Essays and personal narratives in your class easier, do this activity early in the year.
This isn't necessary for your high-achievers, but they will enjoy doing it. But it will really help your lower students, and you can then show them that under it all, they DO have a compelling story to tell.
What I have been pleasantly surprised with is that they will really open up and be honest, which is needed for a truly compelling narrative.
I hope you and your students enjoy it!