Fun Alternatives to the 5 Paragraph Essay...and things like that.
One of the most draining duties of teaching is grading papers.
To minimize this drudgery, but to make sure I was asking my students to do something that demonstrated their understanding of the material & their critical thinking skills, I'd often ask for papers written as dialogues. They preferred it, and so did I. Because by making it a dialogue, they also got to be creative.
Philosophy final: Pretend you're the host of a talk show. Invite 3 of the philosophers we've studied in class to discuss a topic we've studied. Write a discussion between the 4 of you, making sure each philosopher's views on that subject are reflected appropriately.
Government final: We've discussed many qualities that are required for democracy to succeed. Pick from the lis of qualities below, and have a discussion between you and a current politician about how those qualities look like and apply to today's USA.
Current Event homework: Write a 3 page discussion between you and the department of education about the important issues facing education today. What do you think should be done? Why?
Now....you go. Think of all the discussions your kids could be having with multitudes of people about any subject. Make it fun. Maybe make it an exercise that helps them get through this Covid-19 pandemic. Maybe they need to write to an imaginary friend or the person they'd most like to talk to about what's going on. Maybe they could make it a conversation between the two of you...or the entire family.
These exercises are great for teaching kids how to express their opinions articulately, for perspective taking, for framing an argument, for being creative, for learning how to write, period.....