How to Teach Personal Statement Writing

How to Teach Personal Statement Writing

At the start of a new school year, I like to assign my students a personal statement as one of the first writing assignments of the year. However, I don’t just assign this to my students and set them free. Instead, I use this personal statement teaching unit to take time to teach my students all about personal statement writing.

Teaching students, especially juniors and seniors, how to write a meaningful and effective personal statement is essential. Our high school students need to know how to highlight their strengths and write positively about themselves in an authentic and professional manner.

It usually always happens like this. I’ll assign the personal statement in August. Students write their personal statements. And then in October or November when students start putting together their college essays, I remind them of their personal statements. And bingo! They have a stellar first draft of their college essay.

How to Teach Personal Statement Writing
personal statement teaching unit

When I teach personal statement writing in my classroom, I like to dedicate several days to the assignment. I like to take time with direct instruction. In the lesson, I teach students about what a personal statement is and why they should have one.

What students should include in a personal statement:

  • Formal tone
  • Professional language
  • Precise words

Ideas for students’ personal statements:

  • Biggest accomplishment
  • Strengths and talents
  • Goals and aspirations
  • Unique and defining attributes
  • Unusual obstacles

Once students have a solid idea about what they should include in their personal statement, I like to pause for a moment before assigning the personal statement. I share examples of already written personal statements with students and have them evaluate each personal statement in small groups. By seeing examples, students are able to see if some of the statements are too generic, too braggy, or just right.

After students read and discuss the sample statements, I assign the personal statement and give them some time to begin brainstorming ideas. I like to take some time on the brainstorming part of the writing process to allow students adequate time to think about what they want to write about. From there, I have students start to outline the structure of their personal statements. From there, we move to drafting, peer editing, and revising.

When I teach my students how to write a personal statement, I use this personal statement unit. It includes an editable presentation for direct instruction and student resources including brainstorming sheets, outlines, and a grading rubric.

How to Teach Personal Statement Writing



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