If you are tired of the same old 8th grade essay prompts then it’s likely your students will be too. Breathe some life into your writing practice with these creative ELA writing prompts that will have your 8th graders charting, analyzing, designing, moving, and more!
Cheryl Rizzo, a savvy middle school ELA teacher in New York City, joins us today to share 5 essay prompts for 8th grade ELA. She is a NYCDOE Big Apple finalist, recipient of the grand prize FLAG Award for teaching excellence, and is included in the prestigious Marquis Who’s Who in America registry. You can follow Cheryl’s creativity in the classroom here! Read on to see how Cheryl has the right stuff to get middle schoolers to write.
Creative 8th grade Essay Prompts that Don’t Need Much Prompting!
“I don’t know what to write about.” “How many paragraphs do I need?” “What goes in the 3rd body paragraph?” Although these may be familiar questions, they don’t have to be! Here are five clearly structured, engaging essay prompts for 8th grade ELA that will have your students excited to write instead of dragging their pencils.
Literary Charts Lead to “Off-the-Charts” Essays
Middle Schoolers are a whole mood. What better topic to analyze in literature than the change in mood of the characters? This “Literary Charts” resource is an amazing essay prompt for 8th graders to visualize the impact the plot has on character mood. In the image pictured here, students created the mood line graph using the text Uprising which has three main characters with alternating chapters. Students created three line graphs to not only track the change in each character, but then also compared and contrasted the development of the characters. You can differentiate by having each body paragraph focus on the development of mood of a different character or three specific points in the text where one character’s mood continues to change. Can’t you already envision the improvement of your students’ moods when it is time to write? Right!
Rhetorically Speaking, Bar Graphs Get Students Writing
Middle Schoolers spend a lot of time persuading- whether it be why they should be able to sit next to their bestie in class or why they shouldn’t have to write an essay. What better way to analyze literature than explore persuasion through rhetorical devices? This “Rhetorical Bar Graph” resource is an excellent essay prompt for 8th graders to visualize pathos, ethos, and logos use and then determine which is used most effectively. You can find more literary bar graph examples in this post, but in the image pictured above, students analyzed techniques in a speech from Animal Farm and wrote an essay analyzing the types of devices- one in each body paragraph. Alternatively, students could choose the device type that is used most and write three body paragraphs, each detailing about one specific example highlighted. I’m sure your students will easily be persuaded to try this essay structure!
Literary Lenses Help Students to See the Benefits of Essay Writing
Have you noticed that Middle Schoolers like to try on each other’s glasses- especially those students who don’t normally wear any in the first place. Take advantage of this phenomenon by providing literary lenses for each of your students to share! This “Literary Lenses” resource is a great essay prompt for 8th grade ELA to have your students see the text in new ways and thereby deepen their understanding of the text from new perspectives. In the photo included here, students spent time in stations, rotating from the psychoanalytic lens, to the historical lens, and then to the reader response lens. Following this, they used each perspective as a different body paragraph to illustrate the complexity of the text. Another option is to have students choose which lens is their favorite and use it as their essay thesis. This will certainly help your students to see the benefits of essay writing more clearly!
Student Art Helps Frame 8th Grade Writing Prompts
Middle Schoolers love expressing themselves- especially through fashion! These book bracelets or holiday ugly sweater templates encourage students to explore image and color symbolism as they analyze characterization. These artistic prompts for 8th grade ELA help students analyze characters from literature in an original and unique way.
In the image above, three students worked on a collaborative essay where each person was responsible for writing one body paragraph. They used the symbolism in their sweaters to explain character perseverance. You can read more information about writing group essays here. You could also have students simply use their own sweater to write an essay by using three symbols- one for each body paragraph. This will certainly lead to “run-way worthy” essays your students will be proud to see celebrated on a bulletin board.
Literary Yoga Creates Flexible Essays
Middle Schoolers are full of energy so how can they be expected to always be sitting still? What better idea than to stretch our ideas about texts while we stretch our muscles! This “Literary Yoga” resource has a multitude of poses to help explore character, conflict, mood, tone, symbolism, and plot structure- which serves as a wonderful essay prompt for 8th grade ELA. In the image here, to analyze a text, a student chose these three poses- one for each body paragraph. With an essay structure like this, you are certainly encouraging flexible thinking in your classroom!
With all of these amazing essay prompts for 8th grade ELA at your fingertips, your students will be excited to write. The activities provide a fun way to understand literature and with such clear essay structure, students are willing to write to share their cool findings and new discoveries. When you take the guesswork out of what to write about in an essay, you will find that students certainly have a lot to say. Namaste!