A Time of Challenge and Change: Writing Prompts to Help You Think

As part of the suite of resources we’re creating to help students document and reflect on their lives, we’ve put together a list that we hope can provide instant inspiration. Here is a selection of Student opinion questions we’ve been asking on our site since the pandemic started closing schools in early 2020. We will continue to update this list until October 2021.

Each question is inspired and links to a related Times article and invites teens to reflect on some aspect of ordinary life that has been impacted by the pandemic, the fight for racial justice, 2020-21 politics, and more. The questions invite reflection on the present, memories of the past and predictions for the future. They ask students to tell personal stories, take positions on important issues, consider new ideas and use their imaginations.

We hope that teens find potential here for their own work in any genre – work that they are welcome to submit to our “Coming of Age in 2021” competition. All of these questions are always open for comment from anyone 13 years of age or older – and many of them already have hundreds of answers. In fact, just reading what other teens had to say might be enough to inspire your own memories and ideas.

You can find links to all of the materials that support this unit in this overview. As we remind students in the introduction to our competition… whatever format you choose, trust us: Even if you think you don’t have something to say, you do. There are stories that only you can tell.


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