If you have a signature assignment, you know what it's like: students years later mentioning how cool that one assignment was. Maybe they're excited to tell their friends about it. Maybe all you get is a, "That wasn't terrible."
The fact is, not everyone has time to create a signature assignment, but all you need is a few seconds to have this awesome assignment. I developed this assignment when I was practice teaching, and it kept students interested for a dozen more years.
You take a story everyone knows, turn it upside down, and then have the students try to figure out the factors that change stories over time and place. It's more fun than an exploding or drowning wolf. This assignment is great for collaborative work as it allows students to explore the decisions authors make.
I've used this assignment with 9th and 10th grade, regular or honors. A couple of kids in honors complained it was childish until a classmate said her older sister did something similar (but not as cool) in college.
This is also a perfect assignment for homeschool or independent study. Just be sure to read the book review article first and confirm that you're fine with very violent stories made for children. But that's part of the allure, since we like to claim kids are so messed up today because of video games and whatnot, but just read the stories I found.
Includes links to the stories and articles, a 15-question quiz, a writing assignment, a chart to fill out (60 slots) and the memories you'll have of the kids being more engaged than you've seen them doing other assignments.