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Student Contests

DAR Patriots of the American Revolution Essay Contest

High school essay contest Looking for a high school writing contest this fall? Look no further than the Daughters of the American Revolution’s (DAR) Patriots of the American Revolution Essay Contest. In my previous teaching position, a few of my high school students participated in this contest as part of our Writer’s Workshop routine. Entering…

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DAR American History Writing Contest

Five tips to help your students succeed Looking for a middle school writing contest this fall? Look no further than the Daughters of the American Revolution’s (DAR) American History Essay Contest. In a previous teaching position, my middle schoolers participated in this contest for several years. I always looked forward to the day each fall…

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The New York Times Announces Its 2020-21 Student Writing Contests

And get this: most are now open to middle school students! Yes! The student writing contests hosted by The New York Times’ Learning Network are back! In addition, most are now open to U.S. middle school students starting in sixth grade (for international students, ages 13-18). A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post…

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The New York Times Announces Two New Writing Contests

Both ask students to record their lives in the year 2020 Last Thursday, I attended a webinar titled “Giving Students a Voice: Teaching with Learning Network Contests.” It was hosted by The New York Times’ Learning Network. Teachers from around the world gathered online to get the skinny on a total of ten student writing…

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Call for submissions: Frederick Douglass wants your students’ essays

Their best words and ideas are needed now This morning, I learned about an organization taking essay submissions from students around the world for possible online publication. The organization is called Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. Founded in 2007 and based in Rochester, NY, FDFI is  dedicated to the legacy of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass and…

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New writing contest: Book blurbs!

Whether you’re distance learning or at school, start fall with this new contest With talk of a second corona virus wave coming late summer, knowing what “school” will look like in August or September is impossible right now. However, one thing I know for sure: on the first day of school, my creative writing class…

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Chisholm Trail Heritage Center Cowboy Youth Poetry Contest

Plus: past winning poems to use as mentor texts Do you have any students who live on farms or ranches, own livestock, or love rodeos? If so, bookmark this post about a new poetry contest designed to celebrate the spirit of ranching life and the American West: the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center’s Cowboy Youth Poetry…

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I teach kids it’s okay to be rejected

Rejection proves that my students are indeed writers I teach kids it’s okay to be rejected. I teach them it’s okay to fail and That it’s good to receive a rejection letter because That’s what writers do: They get turned down. I teach kids it’s okay to be rejected. I teach them to risk it…

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Contest #13: Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest

Try this contest for grades 3-12. Entries are due Feb. 25. I’ve stumbled upon another student writing contest that middle schoolers may enter:  the Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest.  The sponsors invite students to submit a poem to the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site’s annual Student Poetry Contest. “The contest encourages youth to explore writing their own poetry,…

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How I actually accomplished something in my classes the week before Christmas break

Students presented their writing contest entries for an end-of-semester critique   The last week before Christmas break was super productive. Oh, don’t get me wrong… we still watched videos late in the week, but we ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH early in the week with our contest entry presentations that my self-inflicted and totally undeserved teacher guilt…

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NCTE’s Promising Young Writer’s 2019 Contest Prompt has been released

A writing contest just for 8th-graders! The long-awaited 2019 prompt for NCTE’s Promising Young Writer’s contest has been released. This year, NCTE invites students to write about instances in their lives when they “made a conscious choice to welcome or show hospitality to an experience, feeling, or person.” Click this link for more information. This contest’s purpose…

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Contest #12: Fleet Reserve Association’s Americanism Essay Contest

Here’s a new contest you may want to check out. A former student told me about this contest, which I don’t have any experience with. It’s one I’m totally new to, but thought I would add it to my blog’s contest list anyway. It might be something I can invite or encourage a few students…

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Contest #11 That Works for My Students: Stossel in the Classroom Argument Contest

Each year for the past three years, I have assigned an argument essay contest to my eighth-graders. The contest is sponsored by Stossel in the Classroom (SITC), an educational website hosted by John Stossel, former consumer reporter and correspondent for ABC’s 20/20, and current Fox News contributor. According to the SITC website’s About page, the “program…

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My Students Swept a National Poetry Contest!

Here’s a news release that I sent to a local newspaper. Kirbyville Middle School students swept the junior (grades 6-8) poetry division of the 2018 Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards, a national contest hosted by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Missoula, Mt. Read about the contest in this post. Joel R., a former eighth-grader…

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Writing Contest #10: Holocaust Museum & Learning Center’s Student Writing Contest

Our kids need this contest. I’ve discovered another writing contest: Holocaust Museum & Learning Center’s Student Art & Writing Contest. I stumbled upon this contest as I was researching for a recent post on Medium.com about the lack of Holocaust literature in Expeditionary Learning’s curriculum. I have reblogged that post here. According to the St.…

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Here’s the prompt for the 2018-19 VFW Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest

This contest is a winner for middle schoolers! The Patriot’s Pen essay contest for grades 6-8 is getting started for the 2018-19 school year. The first step: learning the theme. And (drumroll please!)…here it is: Why I Honor the American Flag. This year’s theme will resonate with students as it recalls the national conversation about…

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Writing Contest #9: NCTE’s Promising Young Writers

An any-genre writing contest just for your 8th graders Full disclosure: this is a contest I have NOT tried with my students… yet. I’m a member of NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) and for some reason, I just found out about the group’s Promising Young Writers contest a few days ago while surfing…

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A good thing: Weekly in-class awards

I enjoy recognizing students for their on-time, on-target writing Last year, sometime during the second quarter, I decided to start awarding students for their hard work on their weekly written homework assignments. I came up with four awards to recognize students for being on-time and for doing a good job. The awards and the skills…

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Contest #8: Cursive is Cool

It’s a cursive handwriting contest! I stumbled upon this cursive contest online a few days ago sponsored by Campaign for Cursive (C4C).  This organization is a committee of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation (AHAF) and is an all-volunteer non-profit that began in 2012 in the Southern California chapter of the AHAF. Its goal is to “bring…

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2017-18 VFW Patriot’s Pen Youth Essay Contest Results

Finally… here’s that follow-up post I promised plus the winning essay entry Photo: Pixabay Last winter, I wrote a post about a contest that my seventh-graders enter each fall: the Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. At the conclusion of that post, I wrote that I would update you…

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Here’s the Poem that Won a National Silver Key Award

I’ve posted the poem below that one of my eighth-grade students wrote, which won Gold and Silver Key Awards, respectively, at the regional and national levels of the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Read yesterday’s post here to find out more about the contest, such as guidelines, tips, and how to enter. Hint: it’s…

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Contest #6 That Works for My Students: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

One of my goals during the 2017-18 school year was to finally enter a student’s work in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. And right before Christmas break, two of my students entered poetry. Brooke S. entered four poems, Ally W. entered two. Brooke earned a Gold Key Award at the regional level, sponsored by the…

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My Seventh-Graders Told Me This: Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

The future of the country is in good — albeit small — hands.   Just when you think the country is spiraling out of control due to natural disasters, political upheaval, and lone wolf violence, you read some words written by twelve- and thirteen-year-olds and you realize that kids will carry us through. In short,…

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Worth the wait… fifteen students are now published writers!

  Last spring, many of my students entered their “Where I’m From” poems in Creative Communication‘s Spring 2017 Poetry Contest. Fifteen are now published writers with the printing of the anthology shown in the photo. I am so proud of them! I’ve also shared these photos and posted them on my class Instagram page… I…

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Get Your Students Published ASAP

Three days in and students are revising submissions for a publisher. I decided not to discuss class rules on Wednesday, the first day of school, because who wants to hear class rules for eight different classes in one day? Instead, we jumped right into a writing contest hosted by Creative Communication (CC). The contest (read about…

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Contest #5: Outdoor Writers Association’s Norm Strung Writing Awards

Here’s another writing contest for you to try with your students. The Outdoor Writers Association, based in Missoula, Montana, is an organization of writers, editors, broadcasters, photographers, film makers, and other communicators who are, according to OWAA’s website, “dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience.” The organization is involved in many outreach activities, including the Norm…

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We have a winner!

Student’s essay places second in national contest Congratulations to Elijah D., whose essay placed second in the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s   Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards. Eli’s essay entitled “Natural Nostalgia” placed second in the nation in the junior prose category. He also received a check for $100. Eli graduated from Kirbyville Middle School…

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Contest #4 That Works for My Students: New York Times Editorial Contest

Since 2014, The New York Times has sponsored an opinion-editorial contest on its Learning Network site. Last spring, all of my seventh-graders submitted entries for their chance to win.  This contest engaged my students, especially because they knew they were writing for The New York Times. Age Range: This contest is open to students aged…

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Heads up! Student poetry contest deadline August 18

  If you’re planning to incorporate contests into your ELA classes and/or writers workshops, you can get started as early as Friday, August 18! That’s the deadline for the summer poetry hardcover anthology to be printed and published by Creative Communication. The books will ship in December. Teachers who have five or more students accepted…

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Contest #3: Creative Communication Poetry Anthologies

Originally published June 26, 2017 ©Edutopia | The George Lucas Educational Foundation Three times a year, Creative Communication (CC) of Logan, Utah publishes hardcover anthologies full of K-9 poetry. I know what you’re thinking. Must be a pay-to-play anthology, right? The company judges the poems received and publishes the best ones, without regard to whether the student purchases…

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Contest #2 That Works for My Students: DAR American History Essays

Originally published June 9, 2017 ©Edutopia | The George Lucas Educational Foundation Tired of making all the rules? Let a contest committee do it for you. Your students will show more buy-in when citing their evidence, for example, when the judge — and not you — requires it. Here’s another contest to help you teach important…

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Contest #1: VFW Patriot’s Pen

Originally published June 1, 2017 ©Edutopia | The George Lucas Educational Foundation My first post in this new blog focused on writing contests and how I use them in my middle school ELA classes to provide authentic writing experiences. As promised, my subsequent posts (starting with this one) will highlight a contest that I used…

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Writing Contests Deliver Student Buy-in

Originally published May 30, 2017 ©Edutopia | The George Lucas Educational Foundation Take advantage of the benefits that contests offer One day last February,  three of my seventh-grade students hustled into my classroom at the end of the day. “Isn’t today the deadline for the New York Times contest?” Jacob asked me. After I confirmed…

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