Writing Exercises and Prompts

Are you looking for a quick way to engage students in reflective activities related to the Post- election or myriad of other issues? Below are a few activities and prompts that can be incorporated easily into asynchronous classes and synchronous classes. We hope these activities can provide avenues for expression.

Check Out our Resource Page for additional resources.

Consider sharing a few samples of student work (or your own!). Identifiers will be removed and a collection will be shared on a new CUNY Academic Commons page.

Email RRayo@hostos.cuny.edu or SHoiland@hostos.cuny.edu with any questions and/or samples.

 Worry Box 

A stress reducing technique you might be familiar with is a worry box. It’s usually a physical box where you can write down a worry on a slip of paper and then physically get rid of your worry by putting your worry in the box and then throwing out the box. 

This will be a digital worry box. Submit a worry or list of worries you are having.

Six Word Novels

Instructions:  There are no rules other than to use six words. No more. No fewer. You can select six words in your native language and provide translation or write in English. 

Sample prompts (select one or write your own): 

  • Describe 2020
  • How do you feel post-election? 
  • What will 2021 bring?
  • What story will you tell your grandchildren about 2020?

Attributions: Ernest Hemingway’s six-word tale, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” and The Race Card Project Six Word Novels 

Adapted by: Sarah Hoiland, Rocio Rayo, and Helen Chang 

Hostos History Now, A Collective Hostos 2020 Diary 

Instructions:  Submit a written, audio, or visual submission telling stories from your life this year. Consider reflecting on voting, elections, your neighborhood, parenting, online education, work, housing and family, quarantine, BLM and protests for racial justice, health care and hospitals, trauma and mourning, the recession, art and literature, music that you listened to, community organizations, local politics, etc. 

Write a paragraph or more, submit pictures with captions, and/or record a short video or audio snippet on your phone. 

Attribution: New York Public Library’s Pandemic Diaries Project

Adapted by: Helen Chang

Future Forecast

Instructions:  No matter the election outcome, everyone has expectations and wishes for the future. What do you want to see happen in the future and how do you envision your role to help make that future possible? 

Consider changes in local, state, and national laws and policies, your neighborhood, Hostos, CUNY, your workplace, representation in any area of life, etc. Your role can be voting in local elections, volunteering at a community food pantry, joining a student group at Hostos, signing a petition in support of CUNY, etc.

Write one paragraph or more. 

Adapted: Helen Chang

Call to Action

Scenario: The election is over and ________ won (you decide). You are standing outside of Hostos where a group of students/faculty/staff have gathered (6 feet apart and with masks). There are alot of people and alot of noise and they need to hear from a leader. Someone passes you the mic and says you have less than a minute to share your thoughts, to inspire, to call to action. 

What do you say? 

Record a One minute speech: audio/video. (Typing is fine too)

Think about what you need/want to hear right now. Think about what is important to you and your community and what you wish someone would say to address those concerns. Think about the power your voice has. 

Adapted: Rocio Rayo

Drama Dialogue 

Instructions: Select two inanimate objects and write a few lines of dialogue. Work to create understanding between the two objects. 

Examples: 

  • An absentee ballot and an in-person ballot
  • A Black Lives Matter hat and a police captain’s hat
  • A Black Lives Matter hat and a MAGA Hat
  • A Fuck Trump Button and a police badge 
  • An NYPD barrier and a Mega Phone 
  • Two yard signs (one TRUMP one Biden) staring at each other 

Attribution:  Tere Martinez, Drama-in-Education Workshop, Hostos Community College, June 2019

Adapted by:  Sarah Hoiland Rocio Rayo

Understanding Voter Suppression and Activism to Fight It

Instructions:  There is a lot of talk about “voter suppression” in the news. What does it actually mean? What have people done to counter it?

Read this article about one example in South Carolina, and respond to the following prompts:

  • What are at least three obstacles SC citizens may have encountered when trying to cast their ballot?
  • What are at least three ways in which people have mobilized against voter suppression in SC?

Source: Pulitzer Center, adapted by Haruko Yamauchi. See original source for more extensive related activities.Note: Teaching Tolerance also offers similar ready-made activities that use excerpts from Carol Anderson’s book One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

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