It is early in the semester, and I want to get to know my students a bit -- who are they and what makes em' tick. Also, I want them to begin to reflect on their past and future for the purpose of having them think -- without being explicit about it -- in a self-reflective way. The self-reflection will begin today and culminate in a final memoir (which doubles as a possible college essay).
As a way to quickly set this idea up, I projected the newly released Common App general essay questions. (These are attached as a resource.)
After pointing out how "knowledge of self" (obviously) leads to success on the Common App essays, I explain that they will be writing today a simple description of themselves for me to "get to know them."
Before I reveal the prompt, though, we spend a few minutes setting up a Google Doc for their responses which they will share with me via Google rather than print and submit. (FYI - I work to make this course as paperless as possible.) For the "template" I have them download their yearbook photo, which is readily accessible in their grade portal. Once downloaded as a .jpg, they insert the photo in the upper left of the "About Me" essay. I also teach them to "wrap text" around the photo for a more "professional" look rather like a newsletter.
After setting context, it is time to write!
The prompt I use is linked here (on slide #3).
After reading the prompt aloud and answering any questions, students simply begin typing. At this juncture (so early in the course and close to summer), I try to put students at ease about their writing by stating that "quantity" is better than "quality" AT THIS TIME. Pound away on the keyboard! Nothing is set in stone, and you can make any changes you want to overnight and into the next few days ... I wont be "grading" this just yet ...
After the students have written and shared and I have read all responses, it is neat create some data like this (fall of 2012 data) to share with parents and students alike!