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Middle Schoolers anonymously share their New Year’s resolutions on a bulletin board and in a five-paragraph essay in this lesson


Language Arts  


7, 8  

Title – Making New Year’s Resolutions Middle School Style
By – Penelope Bartsch
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 7-8


  • This lesson combines a mini-lesson in understanding prefixes, roots, and suffixes with practice in writing a five-paragraph essay.
  • It also gives socially active and curious middle school students a chance to share anonymously their personal New Year’s resolutions.


  • Discuss Resolutions:
    • Start by asking students what they know about New Year’s resolutions.
    • Ask if anyone knows the origins of making New Year’s resolutions (check Google!) and why so many people make resolutions when they are so notoriously hard to keep.
    • Let them share some of the resolutions they have heard people make.
  • Prefix-Root-Suffix Mini-Lesson:
    • When they have had a few minutes to share, move into the mini-lesson by writing the word “resolution” on the whiteboard, overhead, SMARTboard, etc. and ask someone to explain the prefix-root-suffix construction of the word.


      re = again

      solution = a way to solve a problem solve

          = Latin root meaning “loosen” [as in “solvent”]


        = act of or process of
    • Working through this exercise in etymology helps students understand that the purpose of making resolutions is to help people solve some of their problems.
  • Make Three Resolutions:
    • Then announce that they will make three New Year’s resolutions of their own. (Explain that they don’t have to share their resolutions unless they want to.)
      1. The first resolution has to be related to their lives at home (doing chores when asked, getting along better with a sister or step-parent, taking better care of the family pets, cleaning their bedrooms).
      2. The second resolution has to be related to their lives at school (raising a grade in a particular class; getting along better with a specific teacher; getting homework done on time).
      3. The third resolution is a personal choice and can be another resolution relating to home or school or one relating to life outside home or school (girlfriends, relatives, sports, or hobbies).
    • Beginning with the words “I resolve..,” students write their three resolutions on binder paper and hand them in.
  • Bulletin Board:
    • The teacher then chooses one resolution from each student and types them into the computer in an assortment of interesting fonts and sizes (large enough to be read from a distance of four or five feet).
    • Print onto white card stock and use a paper cutter to crop the resolutions.
    • Cover a bulletin board with some kind of “party” paper or fabric (I prefer fabric because of all the wonderful patterns and colors, it stretches, is easy to staple, and doesn’t show wrinkles, and it can be re-used!), put up a “party” border, staple on some party hats, noise makers, and streamers, and then add the resolutions.
    • This is one of my students’ most favorite bulletin boards of the year! They love trying to guess who wrote which resolution! You will be amazed, amused, inspired, and sometimes saddened at the “problems” they want to solve.
  • Five-Paragraph Essay:
    • Later, you can use their three resolutions as the starting point for a five-paragraph essay.
      1. First paragraph: Introduction
      2. Second paragraph: Resolution 1
      3. Third paragraph: Resolution 2
      4. Fourth paragraph: Resolution 3
      5. Fifth paragraph: Conclusion
    • Depending on the ability of your students, you can require a certain number of sentences per paragraph, explanations for what makes each resolution necessary and how the student plans to keep it; and additional details to make the essay more entertaining or informative.
    • Warning to students: Do not mention the resolutions in the introduction!






  • Use your favorite writing instruction program, such as Step Up to Writing , for more specific details.
  • This entire lesson takes three to five days, depending on the length of your class time, the students’ ability to write, and whether or not they can work at home.

E-Mail Penelope Bartsch !

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