6 Real-Life Writing Activities for High School Students to Beat the “When Will We Ever Use This” Question.

We all have had a student ask the question “when are we ever going to use this?” While sometimes it’s just fun to write for the sake of writing, here are 6 real-life writing activities that will enable students to see directly how the assignment connects to the skills they will need in their future.

  1. Write a cover letter, resume, and/or fill out a job application form. Writing is an important part of finding a job. Give students some practice with this type of writing by having them complete a cover letter, resume, or job application form. This would also be a great entry-point or extension point in talking about audience. The way that a student would write to get a job is different than how they would text a friend and this is a good assignment to use to teach this.

  2. Have them write an email responding to a customer complaint. Engaging in customer service or owning a business are two careers that many students may have now or in the future. Craft a complaint email and have students practice writing a response.

  3. Write a letter to their MLA (or other government official). Many students are passionate about what they want from their government, but don’t know how to express this desire. Have students write a letter to their MLA (or other government official) talking about a topic that they are passionate about. They can send it or not. But, it is a great way to teach students how they can have their voices heard.

  4. Write a practice college application. Find and print off a couple college application forms for colleges/ universities around you. Have students practice the written portions of these.

  5. Have them create a description of a product that they love. For some students that might go into sales, being able to write a good product description that encourages the consumer to buy it is an important skill to have. Get students to write a paragraph or two describing their product. This would be another great way in teaching about audience and using optimal word choice.

  6. Have them create a set of directions. For some jobs, being able to write a set of directions for colleagues is key. Have students practice this by writing directions on how to do something that they do frequently. This could include brushing teeth, skateboarding, playing hockey, or anything else. Have them write it out in a step by step form. Some ways to help teach this would be to show some recipes or other directions on how to assemble furniture.

It can sometimes be a challenge to get reluctant writers to write. I hope you are able to find some success by introducing some of the strategies above. You could either offer them one of the options, or multiple options for them to pick from to help find something that they would find useful.

Let me know in the comments if you tried any of these and how they went!

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