"Your Unique Gifts" Student Writing Lesson

We all have gifts worthy of sharing. What's your gift?
Puanani Burgess.jpg

Puanani Burgess remembers playing in these giant banyan and kapok trees as a child on the grounds of Iolani Palace in Honolulu. 
Photo by Paul Dunn for YES! Magazine

The YES! Magazine article, "Blessings Revealed" by Puanani Burgess is a story about finding our unique and valuable gift and learning how to share it.

Students will use Puanani Burgess' story to write about their unique gifts—gifts that are not necessarily easy to see or valued by society.

 

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YES! Article and Writing Prompt

Read the YES! article: "Blessing Revealed" by Puanani Burgess.

Writing Prompt: What is your gift? Who do you share it?

 

Writing Guidelines

The writing guidelines below are intended to be just that—a guide. Please adapt to fit your curriculum.

  • Provide an original essay title
  • Reference the article
  • Limit the essay to no more than 700 words
  • Pay attention to grammar and organization
  • Be original, provide personal examples and insights
  • Demonstrate clarity of content and idea

This writing exercise meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12 including W. 9-10.3 and 9-10.14 for Writing, and RI. 9-10 and RI. 9-0.2 for Reading: Informational Text.*

*This standard applies to other grade levels. "9-10" is used as an example.

Evaluation Rubric

 

Sample Essays 

The essays below were selected as winners for the Spring 2011 Student Writing Competition. Please use them as sample essays or mentor text. The ideas, structure, and writing style of these essays may provide inspiration for your own students' writing—and an excellent platform for analysis and discussion.

 

Who's Inside Dementia? by Alex Gilliland, Grade 8

Read Alex's essay about her ability to see beyond her grandparents’ dementia and recognize them for who they really are—even when others can't.

 

Finding Your Gift by Kamron Yazdani, Grade 12

Read Kamron's essay on his gift of helping his friends come up with understandable and viable solutions to their problems—and why kindergartners adore him.

 

Realizing My Gift by Tim Hefflinger, Appalachian State University

Read Tim's essay about how Fowler’s Toads made him realize that his calling is to talk and write about what impassions him—social justice. 

 

My Gift by Bronson Ho'omaikai Afong, Grade 6

Read Bronson's essay about how his gifts of kamaehu (resilience), lokomaikai (compassion) and loha kekahi i kekahi (loving one another) help support and love others when they don’t feel accepted.

 

We Want to Hear From You!

How do you see this lesson fitting in your curriculum? Already tried it? Tell us—and other teachers—how the lesson worked for you and your students.

Please leave your comments below, including what grade you teach.