Middle school students, boy with down syndrome
Do you really know the students who sit in front of you each day

With so much pressure on ELA teachers to cover a gazillion standards, it can be hard to find time to connect with our kids.

Alarm Clock

Until now.

This engaging essay project allows you to focus on each student as an individual and cover a ton of writing standards at the same time.

Beyond the Surface

Every morning, as your students step into school, they are greeted by a bustling sea of classmates. Some of these people they know really well, while others they might not know much about. But here's something important for your students to remember: each person is so much more than what meets the eye.

Behind their smiles, laughter, and everyday habits, there are dreams, struggles, and feelings that remain unseen unless someone takes the time to look beyond the surface.

For this assignment, your students will have a chance to explore and discover more about a classmate's life. They will go beyond their first impressions and learn about the different sides of who their classmates are. After all, each person we meet has a whole world inside them that deserves to be seen, celebrated, and understood.

Hi! I'm Olivia.

My students are so much more

important to me than any standard on

a list, but there's a lot of pressure on us teachers to focus on the standards and the standards alone. Over the past decade, I have learned to blend social-emotional learning with the ELA standards I'm required to teach so my students can feel seen, heard, and known. I hope you will join me!

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This essay project will help your students . . .

  • Develop a thesis statement
  • Write logical topic sentences
  • Support their claims
  • Use sensory and figurative language
  • Build a logically organized description
  • Self-assess their writing
  • Develop understanding and empathy
  • And more!

Rather than starting with an intro and rambling their way through to the conclusion, your students will start writing with the most important building block of their argument essay: the thesis statement.

From there, they will build their topic sentences and move on to the support/evidence.

Finally, they will finish by writing an introduction and conclusion that complement the content of their description.

What's Included?

  • Teacher tips to guide you through the process

  • A student handout with a meaningful essay prompt

  • Classmate interview questions to get your students started with the writing process

  • 13 Fillable student handouts that build a 5-8-paragraph descriptive essay when put together

  • Rubrics for each section of the paper (for student self-assessment and teacher grading)

  • A figurative language handout with definitions and examples

  • A put-it-all-together handout that shows students how to organize their essays

  • A sample paper for students to reference as they are writing their descriptive essays

Add meaningful connection and empathy to your curriculum this school year.

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