National Writing Project

Resource Topics

Teaching Writing - Writing Prompts

Additional Resources

The Writing Assignment Framework and Overview

July 2011
Developing creative and rigorous writing assignments can be challenging. To support teachers in planning and reflecting on writing assignments in all content areas, a group of teacher-consultants and Writing Project site directors collaborated to create this new framework for writing assignments. More ›

Music in Schools Celebration Is Also About Writing

February 2010
March is "Music in Our Schools Month," so the NWP is celebrating the intersection between music and writing by providing resources that link music, reading, and writing. More ›

Writing Project Leader’s Blog Among “101 Best Websites for Writers”

July 2010
Art Peterson
Monda Fason, co-director of the Great Bear Writing Project, discusses the elements that have made her blog, devoted to writing prompts, a go-to site for writers and teachers of writing. More ›

Teachers Use Photo Prompts to Spark Writing

April 2010
Gavin Tachibana
Writing Project teachers are exploring new and exciting ways of using photographs as writing prompts to generate thoughtful pieces of work from writers of all ages. More ›

NWP Teachers’ Writing Featured on Smithsonian Photography Website

January 2008
Works by writing project teachers are featured on the Smithsonian Photography Initiative website click! photography changes everything, a collection of essays and stories discussing how photography shapes our culture and lives. More ›

An Art History Lesson at Sierra Vista

The Voice, March-April 2002
Rudy J. Miera
Miera describes a lunchtime conversation with a student about comparing a Rembrandt painting to a Seurat that becomes the kind of moment that makes teaching worthwhile. More ›

The Five-Paragraph Theme

The Quarterly, Summer 2002
Glenda Moss
After teaching the five-paragraph essay early in her career, Glenda Moss now describes how it locks students into thinking it is the only way to write. More ›

Using Favorite Songs as Prompts

The Quarterly, Spring 2001
Michael Fulton
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Back to Square One: What To Do When Writing Workshop Just Doesn't Work

The Quarterly, Winter 2001
Glorianne Bradshaw
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Listening to College Writers

The Quarterly, Winter 2001
Anne-Marie Harvey
Harvey moves toward "giving students enormous latitude . . . asking them what they most need to say in relation to the course work," allowing forms that could be written, visual, oral, or musical. More ›

Apples for the Teacher

The Voice, March-April 2000
Emmet Rosenfeld
Rosenfeld describes how "an apple from the teacher" can inspire student writing in a variety of forms. More ›

I Was a Journal-Topic Junkie

The Quarterly, Fall 1999
Anna Collins Trest
In this 1999 Quarterly article, Anna Collins Trest reflects on being seduced by a classroom fad of the time. "I learned that this is a tricky business," Trest later wrote, "and success requires acknowledging when something's not working, even if it is the latest educational innovation." More ›

Adolescent Writing Paragraph by Paragraph

The Quarterly, Winter 1999
Bonnie Faiman
Faiman knows that when students choose personal topics, they sometimes explore subjects that are none of a teacher's business, but she insist the autobiographical paragraphs motivate students to write on subjects important to them. More ›

Getting Real: Authenticity in Writing Prompts

The Quarterly, Summer 1997
Patricia Slagle
Teachers often strive to develop exercises in which students write "authentic" pieces for an audience beyond the teacher. Here Slagle demonstrates the next step: sending student writing to people outside the classroom. More ›

How to Practically Guarantee Poor Student Writing—Without Even Trying

The Quarterly, Spring 1996
Diane Christian Boehm
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Words from Music: How Mozart and Mangione Inspire Writers

The Quarterly, Summer 1995
Roger Corey
Eighth grade teacher Roger Corey describes how he uses music to set a mood and evoke ideas for stories in his students' imaginations. He names specific pieces of music, describes his process in using the music, and shares examples of his students' creations in response to the pieces he plays for them. More ›

TR 55. Writing from Sources: Authority in Text and Task

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
Stuart Greene
Fifteen undergraduates were asked to write either a report or a problem-based essay, integrating prior knowledge with information from six textual sources. The groups differed significantly in their interpretation and performance of the two tasks. More ›

TR 43. "This Was an Easy Assignment": Examining How Students Interpret Academic Writing Tasks

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1990
Jennie Nelson
This study examines how thirteen college freshmen interpreted writing assignments in a variety of courses and how these interpretations differed from the intentions of the instructors making the assignments. More ›

TR 22. Promises of Coherence, Weak Content, and Strong Organization: An Analysis of the Student Text

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
Margaret Kantz
This report describes the ways that readers saw the structures in a set of freshman essays and discusses the problems the judges had in agreeing on how some students had interpreted the writing assignment. More ›

TR 26. The Effects of Prompts upon Revision: A Glimpse of the Gap Between Planning and Performance

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
Wayne C. Peck
This report analyzes the think-aloud protocols and finished texts of students asked to revise a written assignment. More ›

TR 06. The Role of Task Representation in Reading-to-Write

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, June 1987
Linda Flower
Flower examines the ways different college writers interpret a "standard" writing task, demonstrating how students construct different representations of a task, leading to differences in their texts and their writing process. More ›

Prompt Writing Is Not Impromptu

The Quarterly, May 1979
Marjorie Kirrie
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