“Your Wildest Dreams for 2020” Student Writing Lesson

What in your wildest dreams do you wish for you or this nation in 2020? What steps you would take to make this vision become your reality?

Students will read and respond to the YES! article “Alicia Garza: How to Prepare for 2020” by Kate Werning.

Lots of things may keep students up at night or make them anxious—from grades to fitting in to climate change, mass shootings, and hate groups. The author, who’s also the director of Healing Justice Podcast, reached out to Alicia Garza, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, to help guide us into the new year. Garza reminds us that “Clarity inside of chaos can help us find direction when it seems like everything around us is unstable.”

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YES! Article and Writing Prompt

Read the YES! article by Kate Werning “Alicia Garza: How to Prepare for 2020

Writing Prompt:

Option One: Think about what keeps you up at night or gives you anxiety. Now, imagine yourself feeling liberated, joyful, boundless with possibilities.  As you begin a new decade and a new year, what might you accomplish in your wildest dreams? Describe the steps you would take to make this vision become your reality.

Option Two: Think about what makes you anxious or worried about living in America. Now, imagine yourself feeling free, safe, able to thrive.  As you begin a new decade and a new year, what in your wildest dreams do you wish for your community or this nation? Tell us about the steps you would take to get you closer to realizing your dream.

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 600 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.*

Evaluation Rubric

Sample Essays

The essays below were selected as winners for the spring 2020 YES! National 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.

Looking Back to Move Forward by Theo Cooksey, grade 8. Read Theo’s essay about lifting his head back up to restore his bigger-than-life personality, build that forge, earn his Eagle Scout rank, and no longer be the kid who internalized everything.

Turning Flowers to Trees by Kira Walter, grade 10. Read Kira’s essay about her wishes for a world where we can connect and where America’s youth doesn’t have to contemplate whether it is better to live in the light or commit suicide in the darkness.

Woman with No Nation by Athina Amanor, university. Read Athina’s essay about fighting negative stereotypes, speaking “American” too fast for her Ghanaian relatives, and wishing for a community in which she doesn’t feel the need to prove she isn’t a threat and where being her is enough.

A Borderless World by Sary Barrios, grade 10. Read Sary’s essay about being a child of immigrants who are forbidden from seeing their mothers in Guatemala and her wish that families would be united and everyone would live without fear of someone searching for them.

In My Eyes by Avery Chase, grade 11. Read Avery’s essay about living with the pain of a rare disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

Fighting the Undertow by Daniel Cook, university. Read Daniel’s essay about his plans for no longer being a gay male victim in the Deep South and taking action to be seen as an equal instead of as an “other.”

Can I Dream? by Maitreya Motel, grade 8. Read Maitreya’s essay about escaping the nightmares of school shooting and instead dreaming about being kids again without the weight of the future on their shoulders.

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