One of my favorite writing assignments is National Public Radio’s (NPR) This I Believe. Based on a radio series that started several decades ago, students write a 500-word essay that expresses ONE of their beliefs. The best papers illustrate beliefs with stories and lots of examples.
Some of the student essays are funny, and some are poignant. Almost all of them are thoughtful. Although some students charge through the assignment quickly and whip out something with little analysis or thought, most students have a hard time narrowing their beliefs to only one concept they wish to express.
I spent all morning grading their papers, and this batch of papers is probably the best group of papers I have ever read for the This I Believe assignment.
What do teenagers believe? Teenagers’ optimism always rejuvenates me. Here is the list of beliefs from this semester’s students. The NPR format asks writers to name their belief, usually starting or ending the topic with “This I Believe.”Anything is possible in America Automobiles are the keys to my future success Clunkers Diversity Dreams Driving safety Eggroll Fairy Everlasting love Experience is the best teacher Forgiveness Healing powers of nature Heritage unlocks who a person is and what he can become Home is where the heart is Humans are inherently good Importance of sports Lazy days Lending a helping hand Letting go Life is a miracle Life is what you make it Lying does not solve anything Magic Making friends with the enemy Marijuana is not worth it Music can change a life Music is the true universal language Never growing up Pain is necessary Personal responsibility Politicians should change the Rules of Engagement Positive attitude Power of chocolate Power of playtime Procrastination Resilience Respect Sister’s love Someday my prince will come Sports can change a person’s life Spring is the greatest season of the year. Teamwork Telling the truth True intelligence is realizing you know very little. Trust We are one humanity Weight of regret We still live in a racially divided country.
If you would like to use the NPR’s This I Believe assignment, please see the NPR website: