Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I’ll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you’ll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you’ll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.


As part of the science curriculum’s unit on electricity, my son’s fourth-grade teacher asked students to construct quiz boards. She encouraged them to be creative but not extravagant; the project could easily be completed with items found at home. Nate knew exactly what he wanted to do, and with my husband’s guidance, created a project he was proud to submit for a grade.

Three years later, the same fourth-grade teacher shared the quiz board instructions with my younger son and his classmates. This time, the assignment was not considered homework but extra credit.

“Kids just didn’t do it when I made it an assignment,” she told me, “and parents either didn’t know about the assignment, or they weren’t able to help, or they just didn’t care.”

Two years after Geoff made a quiz board for extra credit, this same teacher taught my daughter about electricity. The project wasn’t offered at all.

“There were only three students who did the project for extra credit when Geoff did it and none last year,” she said.

Then, we talked about homework, student and parent responsibilities, and about preparing elementary students for the rigors of middle school. But my main comment to the teacher?  “I wish you would have made the option available. She was excited about it.”


Challenge Success, a research-based, nonprofit organization founded at Stanford University’s School of Education, has this to say about the topic of homework:

In spite of much discussion and research about homework in the media and in the field of education over the past 100 years, the questions that seem to be the most critical are asked infrequently: What is the quality of the homework that is being assigned? Is the homework valuable and meaningful to students? Does the homework serve to engage students more deeply with the material?

What do YOU think?

Journal Entry:  What role should homework play in the elementary classroom?  What about the middle school classroom?  The high school classroom? Write an Op-Ed piece and consider submitting it to Literary Mama (500 to 900 words). We’d love to publish your thoughts.


Want to make a quiz board? Check out these instructions.

Karna Converse is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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