I invented Paragraph POW! as a way to make writing practice more fun. We practice on special paper—lines in a box, just like on the state writing test. One difference: our paper has an awesome Paragraph POW! logo at the top.
A lot of people think that favorites make good essay prompts. These people have never watched students chew a pencil and stare into space for forty minutes, trying to decide if they prefer Snickers or Butterfinger.
Seriously. Any teacher will tell you—that’s what kids do. A “fun” writing prompt turns into an intense session of soul-searching followed by a few minutes of dashing off a slapdash essay.
It helps to prepare students to pick favorites in high-stakes essays. More important, it helps to teach students a few techniques and tips:
- Just pick something! This is not a lie detector. No one’s going to know if you chose to write about Snickers even though you really prefer Three Musketeers. It’s easier to write details about peanuts, satisfying hunger, and caramel than it is to expound on the merits of nougat.
- Whatever you pick, stick to it. Don’t go getting bright ideas halfway through the essay. If you switch from one candy to the next halfway through the essay, you’ll lose points for organization, persuasiveness, and who knows what else.
- Don’t go off topic. So you don’t have a favorite candy or you’re not allowed to eat sweets? Just pick something. If you turn the essay topic into something other than Favorite Candy, you might get a big fat zero for Off Topic.
Once my students understand the parameters of the assignment, they get really into Paragraph Pow! lessons on favorites. It helps that I choose the essays that best exemplify what the state assessors are looking for and spotlight them under the document camera. Everyone likes to have their work acknowledged.
Here are the Paragraph POW! favorites-based writing prompts. Click on each link for a printable PDF. I have also given you an all-purpose Paragraph POW! sheet so you and your students can write to your own prompts.
- What is your favorite TV show, book, or movie?
- What is your favorite sport and why?
- What is your favorite dinner?
- What is your favorite dessert?
- What is the best candy in the world?
Have fun picking favorites!