Promptastic: Promoting More Thoughtful and Polished Drafts
April is a time to think of Mother Nature! Not only is April symbolized by rain showers and budding flowers, but it is also the month we celebrate taking care of the Earth. The following prompts will get you and your students thinking about nature—especially its power over even our best laid plans. Enjoy getting your students to think deeply about this ancient conflict of humans versus nature.
These Turnitin Revision Assistant™ prompt ideas offer students an opportunity to receive custom holistic and targeted feedback, helping them improve as writers and critical thinkers.
Man in the Water: This prompt includes a powerful reading about an air crash and a man’s heroic act to save fellow passengers. “He was there, in the essential, classic circumstance. Man in nature. The man in the water. For its part, nature cared nothing about the five passengers. Our man, on the other hand, cared totally. So the timeless battle commenced in the Potomac.” The prompt asks students to identify the theme of the article by analyzing the author’s use of language. Students can be asked to think about this in terms of that ancient trial of humans up against uncaring nature.
Sometimes the Earth is Cruel: In a moving article, author Leonard Pitts details his own wonder at the Haitian island’s seemingly constant struggle with nature. Written after the 2010 earthquake that rocked Haitian society, this article forces us to consider the power of nature, indeed, but also the power of humanity to forge on. How do we respond to such tragedy, time after time? Students are asked to identify the main theme of the essay, using evidence from the article, especially Pitts’ use of figurative language and rhetorical devices, to support their thesis.
A Rough Road Ahead: This article follows a cyclist’s journey through tough terrain. Students are asked to consider how the environment affects the cyclist. Be sure to encourage students to think about how the harsh environment in which the narrator finds himself affects him emotionally as well as physically.
The Mooring Mast: This article details the goal to build a mast on which dirigibles (19th century airships) could board the planned Empire State Building. As one would expect, the planning did not take nature’s whims into account. Ask students to especially consider the challenges caused by weather and other natural elements. As humans want to build bigger and greater, when must they accept defeat in the face of nature?
Bag Tax: This prompt asks students to argue for or against a consumer fee on plastic bags in grocery stores. The debate over plastic bags is a debate over the environment: can we continue the use of plastic bags if we want to ensure a safer, cleaner environment? This question, however, leads to another: must we put the financial onus on the consumer in order to mitigate the use of plastic bags? Who is responsible for taking care of nature? (And hey, April 15 is tax day!)
Bonus April Fool’s Day prompt! The Open Window is an assignment based on a delightful short story that highlights trickery and deceit. Use this story to get your students thinking about the spirit of foolery!