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Getting Started
With Essays



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Mental Health



Brief Description

Students read an essay about teen issues and then write an essay about issues in their own lives.


Students will

  • read an essay by a teen writer;
  • discuss the topics/issues touched on in the essay;
  • write an essay about their own strengths, limitations, attitude, goals.


essay, issues, mental health, writing, reading, goals, character, attitude

Materials Needed:

The essay Getting Started from the book From Darkness to Light, online or in print format (provided)

Lesson Plan

Essays written by teens about issues that teens face can encourage classroom discussion, build students' self-esteem, help them develop resiliency, and improve their ability to face challenges and triumph over adversity. Use the essay Getting Started" from the book From Darkness to Light, published by Fairview Press, to spur discussion and reflection in your classroom.

Begin by discussing with students these questions:

  • Can you have fun playing a sport or game you're not good at?
  • Is there more pressure -- or different pressure -- on boys than on girls when it comes to playing sports?
  • Is there more pressure -- or different pressure -- on girls than on boys in other areas? What are those areas?
  • How important is attitude when pursuing a goal? Is attitude more important than talent or effort?

Encourage students to write or discuss their responses to these questions:

  • How competitive are you?
  • If you enjoy something you're not good at, do you continue doing it or do you quit?
  • If you have to do something you're not good at, how do you motivate yourself?
  • When doing something youre not good at, do you do the best you can or do you just try to get it over with as fast as possible?

Have students read the essay Getting Started from the book From Darkness to Light. After students read the essay, invite them to choose one of the following questions and write an essay about it:

  • What are your strengths and limitations? How do they affect the choices you make?
  • What five skills are you most proud of? How do those five skills influence who you are?
  • What one thing would you like to do but dont do well? What three steps might you take to become better at it?
  • Are you an optimist? Describe an optimist and explain why you think you are, or are not, optimistic.


Assess students based on their participation in class discussions and their written essays. Try this essay rubric.

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society

GRADES 5 - 8
NPH-H.5-8.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
GRADES 9 - 12
NPH-H.9-12.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health

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