8th Grade

Conserving Resources (Process)

What can kids do to help conserve natural resources, such as trees, clean air, and energy?

Write a how-to essay with several suggestions for conserving resources. Give detailed instructions and examples to support your ideas.

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Designing a TV Show (Informative)

A public television network is seeking ideas for a new series of shows that would be educational for teenagers. The series will include ten one-hour episodes and will be shown once a week. Some of the titles under consideration are:

"Great Cities of the World"
"Women in History"
"Nature Walks"
"American Legends"

Choose one of these titles. Write a letter to the network president describing your ideas for a new educational series. In your letter, describe what one episode might be like. Use specific examples of what information you would include in the episode so the network president will be able to imagine what the series would be like.

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Dog Sitting (Persuasive)

Your neighbor is going out of town for several weeks and needs someone to take care of her dog. She is considering either hiring you or taking the dog to a kennel. Write an essay describing what you think your neighbor should do with her dog. Give several reasons and examples to support what you recommend.

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Favorite Music (Descriptive)

Imagine that you are listening to your favorite music. Write a descriptive essay about this music. Describe how it makes you feel. Also include what the music would be like if you could see it, touch it, smell it, or taste it. Use your imagination. Give lots of details so that the reader can share your impressions.

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Footprints on the Beach (Narrative)

You have probably read books or seen movies about people shipwrecked or lost by themselves on a deserted island. In the famous book, Robinson Crusoe, the main character is a castaway who thinks he is alone on an island. However, one day he is surprised to find a set of footprints on the beach. He knows the footprints aren't his.

Imagine you are a lonely castaway on an island and that you notice someone else's footprints on the beach one day. What will you do? Tell the story of what happens after you find the footprints.

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Graduate (Expository)

Imagine that the Board of Education decides that students may earn a high school diploma after completing the eighth grade. Students will no longer have to attend ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. What would you do next year? How will your life be different? Write an essay using specific details to describe what path your life would take after graduating from eighth grade.

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I'm Bringing a Guest (Descriptive)

You want to bring your best friend along for a trip to visit your relatives, but first they want to hear all about him/her. How would you describe your best friend to someone who has never met him/her?

Write an essay describing your best friend in detail. You can talk about how your friend looks, talks, and dresses, but also try to describe the qualities that make the person such a good friend. Be as specific as possible, and provide enough details so your relatives could picture your best friend in their mind.

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Impostor (Narrative)

You wake up one day to find yourself living somebody else's life. Whose life are you living? What happened to your life? How does it feel? What do you do? Write a story about the experience of being someone else for a day. Use details so that your reader will understand your experience.

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Lengthening the School Year (Persuasive)

Many people think that students are not learning enough in school. They want to shorten most school vacations and make students spend more of the year in school. Other people think that lengthening the school year and shortening vacations is a bad idea because students use their vacations to learn important things outside of school.

What is your opinion?

Write a letter to your school board either in favor of or against lengthening the school year. Give specific reasons to support your opinion that will convince the school board to agree with you.

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Library Computers (Persuasive)

The public library in your neighborhood has announced that it will no longer allow patrons under the age of sixteen to use its computers. The announcement argues that children under the age of sixteen rarely need computers for research and are more likely to damage or misuse the computers. Write a letter to the head of the library in which you argue against this new policy. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

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Literary Character (Compare & Contrast)

Have you ever read a book that included a character that reminded you of yourself? Perhaps the character had the same type of family as yours, was the same age as you or played the same sport as you. Maybe the character had a personality similar to yours. Select a fictional character that is similar to you in some way. Write an essay comparing and contrasting the character with yourself. Use specific examples in your essay to illustrate the similarities and differences.

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Mind-Readers Everywhere! (Cause & Effect)

Imagine that everyone on earth is suddenly granted the ability to read minds. It is no longer necessary to speak in order to communicate, and it is no longer possible to lie to another person.

What effects would this change have on our world? You may want to concentrate on a specific aspect such as social interactions or political campaigns. Write an essay describing some of the changes you would expect to see. Be sure to include both good and bad changes.

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Night Owl (Persuasive)

Now that you are in the eighth grade, you think your bedtime should be moved back by one hour. Your parents aren't sure that this is a good idea, but they are willing to consider your argument. Write an essay that explains your reasons for wanting a later bedtime. As you make your argument, be sure to address any objections your parents are likely to make about your proposal.

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No School (Expository)

Imagine living in a society where kids do not have to attend school. Instead, they are expected to teach themselves. Write an essay comparing and contrasting teaching yourself with attending school. Explain how you would teach yourself. What resources would you use? Describe several ways your life would be different if you did not have to attend school and several ways it would stay the same. Give specific examples.

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Pen Pal (Descriptive)

Imagine that you have a pen pal from another country. In a recent letter your pen pal asks about your school. Write a descriptive essay explaining how your school looks, sounds, and smells. Also describe how your school makes you feel. Provide enough details so that your pen pal can share your impressions of your school.

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Pioneer on Mars (Persuasive)

It has just been discovered that Mars is a planet that can sustain life. The government is choosing people to go there and establish a colony. You want to be chosen to spend a year there as a pioneer. Write an essay persuading the government to choose you as one of the first inhabitants of Mars. Clearly describe how choosing you would benefit the project.

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River Swimming (Narrative)

While swimming in a river something shiny near the bottom catches your eye. You dive down to get a closer look. What is it? Why is it there? What will you do with it? Write a story describing what you find. Be creative!

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Scavenger Hunt (Process)

Suppose that one of your friends has asked you to help organize a scavenger hunt for a younger sibling's birthday party. Write an essay in which you outline the exact process of setting up a scavenger hunt. What would you hide? Where would you hide it? What kind of instructions and clues would you leave for the participants? Be very detailed and include all the steps.

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School Club (Expository)

You are a member of a school club, and the members want to take a field trip. The problem is that the club does not have sufficient funds. What can you and the other members do to raise money for the trip? Write an essay detailing several suggestions for fund-raising. Give specifics to show how these suggestions would work.

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Space Adventure (Narrative)

You are an astronaut who has been sent on a secret mission by the President. You are to determine if any intelligent life exists on a planet in a galaxy far away.

What happens on your trip? Do any problems arise? What do you find out? Write a story about your adventure. Be creative!

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Space Visitor (Narrative)

Imagine this situation! A noise outside awakens you one night. You look out the window and see a spaceship. The door of the spaceship opens, and out walks a space creature. What does the creature look like? What do you do? Write a story about what happens next.

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Students Working (Persuasive)

Many students work part-time while going to school. For example, they may baby sit, have a paper route, mow lawns, or pet sit. Explain whether or not you think working while going to school is a good idea. Give several reasons and examples.

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Technology (Cause-Effect)

Technology is everywhere. People use it at home, at work, and at school.

What if technology were not as advanced as it is today? Using specific examples, write an essay describing how your life would be different.

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Teenager (Expository)

Think about what it is like being a teenager. How is being a teenager different from being a young child? Write an essay comparing and contrasting life as a teenager and life as a young child. Make sure you include several ways that the two stages in life are similar and several ways that they are different. Give examples from your own experiences to support your points.

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Thatís My Slingfrapper! (Descriptive)

You are almost ready to reveal your brilliant new invention, the slingfrapper, to the world. But first, you need to apply for a patent. Write an essay for your patent application describing the slingfrapper in detail. What does it look like? What does it do? What makes it unique?

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TV Characters (Compare-Contrast)

Think about your favorite television shows that feature teenage characters. How realistic are these characters?

Write an essay comparing and contrasting television portrayals of teenagers with real life. Make sure you include several ways they are similar and several ways they are different. Give examples from specific shows to support your points.

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Winter Tourism (Persuasive)

The civic and business leaders of your hometown want to increase the number of tourists who visit there. These leaders have decided that they will advertise winter as one of the best times for tourists to come. Write an essay in which you explain whether you agree or disagree that winter is a good time to visit your hometown. Give several reasons and examples to support your viewpoint.

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Yearbook (Persuasive)

The principal says that school yearbooks are too expensive and not enough students buy them. Therefore, your school may not publish a yearbook this year. Write an essay explaining whether or not you think your school should publish a yearbook. Give several reasons to support your position.

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Your Own Superhero (Descriptive)

There are dozens of superheroes in comic strips and in movies. Some can fly, some can run faster than humans, and some have enormous strength.

Imagine a new, original superhero. How could this superhero be described? What special powers would he or she have, and where did the superhero get those powers? How would he or she look? Does your superhero have a special hideout and equipment? And, of course, donít forget to describe your superhero's costume!

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