Intermediate Resources - National Council of Teachers of English

Video 1: Why I Write

Jacqueline Woodson talks about why she writes, her process, and why it’s important for us all to share our words.


Journal or Discussion Prompt Suggestions:

  • What reasons did Jacqueline Woodson give for why she’s a writer? Have you wanted to write for any of the same reasons?
  • What’s your writing process? Where do you get your ideas?
  • What’s one thing you wish you could write about? Who would you want to read this writing?


Related Writing Activities:


Why I Write Wall

Cover a large wall with a sheet of paper and write WHY I WRITE in the middle. Invite students to write their own responses to this prompt on the paper.


Writer’s Self Portrait

Invite students to draw a picture of themselves as writers. Ask them to show:

  • Where they write
  • What they are writing with
  • Invite them to annotate the picture with a thought bubble or margin notesto list all the things they like to write about

Video 2: Writing = Hope x Change

Jacqueline Woodson explains the “equation” that fuels her work and how it plays out in the books she writes. She reads an excerpt from Each Kindness and points to the moment of change in that story that propels it forward. She concludes with a call to action, inviting us all to tell our stories of hope and change.


Journal or Discussion Prompt Suggestions:

  • What does the equation Writing = Hope x Change mean to you?
  • Name a book or piece of writing that changed the way you think. How did it change your thinking and why?
  • Tell the story of a time when you changed your mind about something. What made you change your mind?
  • How do you show the world what you think?


Related Writing Activities:


Bumper Stickers

Using the bumper sticker template, have students create an image with the equation on it. When they share their designs, ask them to explain what they hope someone reading the bumper sticker might think or do.


Writing Reviews of Mind-Changing Books

Woodson talks about how stories can create hope and change. Have students write a book jacket review for a text that gave them hope or changed their thinking. Consider using this book review template, having students post their reviews online, and/or having them read their reviews to the rest of the class.

Video 3: What will your words change?

Jacqueline Woodson shares an excerpt from her most recent book Harbor Me, centered on a group of middle school students, and discusses how as writers we can create change by questioning the narrative we see around us and sharing the truth of our own stories.


Journal or Discussion Prompt Suggestions:

  • How might the words Jacqueline Woodson read from her book lead to change?
  • What’s something you want to change? Why?
  • How can writing help you?


Related Writing Activities:


Diamante Poems about Change

Invite students to think about something they want to change and to explore it using a diamante poem structure,. You can find an interactive tool for diamante poems on the ReadWriteThink website.

Writing Thank-You Letters of Hope

Invite students to think about someone who gives them hope and encouragement. Have them write a thank-you letter to that person focusing on what that person has done to make a positive change in the student’s life. Consider using the ReadWriteThink Letter Generator.

Other Related Writing Resources for Intermediate Grades