These three writing assignments all stem from a study of The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and involve different skills. You may want to offer your students one of the three, and work on the necessary skills and techniques (e.g., memoir-writing for the first option, or research skills for the third) relevant to it, or offer the class a choice of the three.
In the first option, the “Stand Up” composition, I stress that the situation the student writes about may have been actually serious or just seemed serious at the time (e.g., something that occurred in middle school), but at the time of the incident it was important to the writer. Using peer review for the rough drafts is an option, but I recognize that some students may not want to share this memoir with others.
Kids have a lot of fun with the witchcraft deposition. I stress that incident recorded in the deposition should be silly—it’s a nice way to introduce or reinforce satire, and in the case of The Crucible, how trivial incidents may have harmful consequences. Because this assignment involves “accusations of witchcraft,” you have to use your judgment about your particular school and community and whether this satirical approach to mass hysteria and superstition will be appropriate. The kids enjoyed having their depositions posted on the wall—a sort of modern day Post Office “Most Wanted” display.
Finally, the “existence of the devil” essay encourages kids to use their research skills. Some will go beyond the stereotypes of the horned, tailed devil, and explore the significance of this figure in many cultures. In this assignment I stress that opinions are fine, but they must be backed up with examples and details. I ask the kids to avoid using “I” in this essay unless a personal experience is part of the discussion.