“Bridging Differences” Student Writing Lesson

How do you resolve differences you have with family members and friends?

The YES! Magazine article, “Why My Dad’s Going Green” by Kate Sheppard is a story about Kate’s relationship with her father and how they found a way to reconcile their differences and make peace.

Student will use Kate Sheppard’s story to write about the ways they have make peace with someone who holds conflicting beliefs.

Download this lesson as a PDF

YES! Article and Writing Prompt

Read the article: “Why My Dad’s Going Green” by Kate Sheppard.

Writing Prompt: Has anyone close to you—a friend or family member—chosen to distance themselves from you or sever the relationship because of what you believe? What was the issue? How did you feel? Were you able to resolve 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 ideas

This writing exercise meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12, including W. 9-10.3 and w. 9-10.14 for Writing, and RI. 9-10 and RI. 9-10.2 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 Fall 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.


A Lesson on Life by Haley Coe, Grade 8

Read Haley’s essay about how her choice to be homeschooled drove a wedge between her and her childhood friend. 

The Racist in the Room by Cherese Smith, Shoreline Community College

Read Cherese’s essay about trying to understand her grandmother’s prejudice against Hispanic people.

Responding With My Better Half by Wesely Mikiska, Appalachian State University

Read Wesely’s essay about how love and compromise transformed his wife’s shopping and television viewing habits. 

Afraid to Choose by Lourdes Escobar, Grade 6

Read Lourde’s essay about her struggle with the choices her father has made.

Response from author Kate Sheppard  to student essay winners that commends them for courageously drew from familial and friend relationships that have been made difficult by competing value systems or priorities.

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.

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