In this customizable multi-week to semester-long unit, task your students with writing up to three essays of their choosing: college admissions personal statements, scholarship essays, sponsored essay contests, research argumentative position papers essay contests, or civic-engaging op-ed essays.
Challenge your students to earn fame and cold hard cash for their writing talents and fresh perspectives and give your administration lots to brag about with this authentic writing project!
This is a completely print-and-go, very-low-prep
project- perfect for the frazzled teacher! You serve as their consultant and cheerleader, providing the tools and your feedback along the way, scoring their final products, and encouraging them to submit for real!
practicing the invaluable skill base of writing to move and persuade real audiences.
No better way to teach writing than to do it for real! Turn your students into winners and citizens with this project pack that teaches 3 explicit essay types: the Personal Statement Narrative, the Argumentative Position Paper, and the Op-Ed.
Only have time to do one essay type?
No problem! Each can be done completely independent of the others. This is essentially a bundle (plus tons of extras!) of 3 how-to-write essay units:
Op-Ed Essay | Personal Statement | Position Paper
Never taught one of the types before?
No fear! Several online video and article tutorials and complete step-by-step student resources are included for each of the 3 as well as general writing tips.
Have a specific essay or set of standards in mind?
No worries! An editable Word Doc file is included of all the rubrics and some other resources.
Not all your students are college-bound?
No issue! Essay contests open to every high schooler abound and anyone is free to submit an Op-Ed on any topic imaginable.
Don’t know of any contests?
No stress! Your guidance counselor should already have a cultivated list going, your seniors will already have essays on their to-do lists, your colleagues likely get emails about contests all the time, and your local papers will have a how-to submission guide in their Opinion section.
Ready to make real writers out of your students?
Included in this complete project unit:
Teacher & Student Project Overview Resources
- 6-page Teacher Overview
– to give you detailed lesson and implementation tips
- 3 different Project Overview handout sheets
– to guide a full 3-essay, student choice project as well as an infinite variety of other project configurations with 2 customizable versions
- Essay Requirements & Rubrics At a Glance handout sheets
– to provide students the scoring criteria from the beginning (detailed Common Core-aligned and generic rubrics)
- Essay Sign Up sheet
– to track students’ essay choices
- Project Calendar sheet
– to help students plan for and meet their deadlines
- Today’s Status exit ticket slips
– to give you daily formative feedback (PDF and Word versions)
- Essay Submission cover slips
– to keep you in the loop of each essay’s exact prompt and requirements as you give feedback and final scores (PDF and Word versions)
- BONUS Skill Sheets
– Annotating a Text, Annotating a Citation, Citing Evidence & Sourcing, Media Source Analysis
Student Resources for EACH of 3 the types: Op-Ed Essay, Personal Statement, Position Paper
- Project Steps sheet
– to provide a step-by-step coversheet checklist
- 5-7 different Free Write sheets
– to tailor to a wide variety of specific prompts for each type
- Essay Plan sheet
– to pre-plan the essay and conference with you
- 1-2 different Essay Outline sheets
– to develop a solid outline with a choice of scaffolds
- Essay Overview sheet
–to guide writing with action-oriented tasks for each component of the essay
- Annotated Sample Essay sheet
– to show a teenager-friendly example of the finished product
- Edit Checklist sheet
– to facilitate meaningful peer- or self-editing
- 2 Performance Review sheets
– to reflect on finished product and score against detailed rubrics (Common Core-aligned and generic versions)
- Various online links
– to offer more how-to tutorials, tips, and sample essays (video and written)
Student Resource sheets are perfect for either handing out as an all-in-one complete packet for a self-directed, self-paced format or one-by-one in a more teacher-directed format – you choose!
Tips from my Classroom
My students and I look forward to this project every year. They get in-class time to earn money and glory; I help them flourish from the side rather than from the stage!
“Authentic Audience Fridays” has been a great way to end the week and send them into the weekend with next steps for projects they are externally motivated to perfect. There is no shortage of opportunities any time of year, but we do this project from February through April to best match our local scholarship and contest deadlines. It has really kept my seniors’ springtime motivation up!
And the grading is easy on my end- a simple holistic score on a finish project I'm already familiar with from the editing phases. The real judges are the scholarship committees, admission offices, and editorial boards! And because of the rolling deadlines, I only ever have a few essays at a time to score.
My students have a streak going of at least one placing each year in a particular local essay contest. It’s a huge point of pride to keep it alive!
My principal, school board, and I are thrilled each year with the increase of total scholarship dollars our seniors now earn compared to before I started this project. Yours will be too!
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!
Just want one of these three writing projects?
Op-Ed Research & Essay Project
Personal Statement Narrative Essay
Position Paper Essay
Want another way to make a writing authentic?
Civics Political & Community Service Learning Project
get this bundle of 6 Art of Writing projects included in this BINGO-style service project
Want more individual plug-and-play writing projects?
Boycott / Buycott Business Letter
Interview Narrative Essay
Letter to the Editor
Letter to Your Elected Official
Thank You Note