Please! Don’t Make me Write About “How I Spend my Summer Vacation”!

Do you get the moans and groans from your students when you assign that timeless essay at the beginning of each school year on how each student spent their summer vacation? Are you dreading the possibility of reading 20 essays describing how they spend endless hours playing video games or the evading excuse of “I didn’t really do anything”?

Summer vacation doesn’t have to be jet-set trips to Europe or riding an Asian elephant in Indonesia. This is a great opportunity to get those creative juices flowing no matter what they did or where they went. It just takes a little extra creativity to get them over that hill of inertia.

By offering some broader topics to write about you can open their options and ideas:

·        Traveling with my little brother (and how I survived)

·        The weirdest food I ate when I was in _____

·        The first time I saw grandpa’s dentures this trip

·        I meet someone different than myself and I learned about____

·        What my best friend and I found we had in common

·        I had a new experience, found something surprising, learned something about myself

Incorporating mementos and tangible pieces as a part of their presentation helps bring each person’s experience to life. Ask them to share:

·        Funny photos from the family trip

·        Tickets from the fair

·        Wear Grandma’s scarf and glasses to relate a story she always tells

·        Write about the way they felt

Focus on a day, a mood, a moment that mattered. An emotional description paints a more colorful picture than a simple action. Did you simply say the roller coaster was big or was it so tall you felt like you were flying right up to the clouds and screamed so much that you might have swallowed a bug?

Maybe someone is more introspective than others. Maybe there is a budding humorist or a future poet in the midst. We all have a writer’s voice to share. Thank a teacher for pulling it out of us.

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