Common Application Essay Topics for 2014 -2015


The Common Application Group is a non profit committed to to providing reliable services that promote equity, access, and integrity in the college application process.

Every two years they release a set of essay prompts that can be accessed by prospective students to be submitted alongside a college application to give schools an idea of the quality of candidate they are considering.

This is a great opportunity for senior students to complete a common writing task that may well be useful for them in further education opportunities.

The word limit is capped at 650.  It is very difficult to write an excellent essay with such a short word limit so every word needs to count.

The common prompts for 2014 and 2015 are

These three tips may help you if you are stuck for inspiration.

  • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.   

  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

  • Brainstorm some of your favorite memories. Why have these stuck with you? What do they mean to you and what do they say about who you are? Do you see a theme running through them?
  • When writing about these memories, describe them in as much detail as possible. What color was the shirt you were wearing? Was it raining outside? How did you feel? The more you remember the more it means to you.
  • Most importantly, be honest with yourself. Don’t write about what you think the college admissions board wants to hear. Write about something you really feel strongly about. Your passion and true self will shine through. That is what they want to see.

Teacher Guides for every IMAX film are now available

Taking your kids to see a movie, or as us teachers like to refer to it as a 'Visual Text' is a great opportunity to learn about story telling in a far more contemporary manner than simply reading from a book.

Doing this in an IMAX theatre is an experience that cannot replicated anywhere else.  If you are fortunate enough to have access to an IMAX theatre I would strongly recommend considering taking your students to a film there as they have a huge range of educational content but the experience is amazing, especially for first timers.

So going to the movies is fun and all but if you want to continue the learning beyond the cinema you might want to take a look at these huge collections of teacher guides for all the films that pass through IMAX.

These are all of the official IMAX made movies teacher guides.  - Mainly Doco's and educational content.

These are all of the Mainstream film teacher guides that pass through IMAX theatres regularly such as content from Disney, Warner Bros etc.  Big budget films you see in regular cinemas that have been upgraded to work in IMAX theatres.

These guides generally have a great insight to what the film is about and questions to consider before and after viewing.  They would certainly be useful to share with parents who were questioning the purpose of taking kids to the movies in class time.  Enjoy

Blank postcard templates for young writers

Use these printable templates to teach young writers how to write a basic letter or recount.  Your students will learn about addresses and can get creative in decorating the front picture and creating a stamp of their own in the process.

These and many other printables can be found our printable section here.

Download Postcard Template here.

Teach cause and effect through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Learning Intention / Overview

Students will identify cause and effect relationships in the text Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Understanding cause and effect relationships in a text helps students gain meaning from what they are reading.   This promotes insight from students and allows teachers to see students’ understanding from the literature they have read.  This activity will also review causal indicator words or phrases.

Methods / Teaching Strategies

Whole Group Discussion

 Independent Task


Assessment of Learning

·         Oral Discussion

·         Demonstrates understanding of cause and effect relationships in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Click here to download the lesson plan

Charlie and the Chocolate factory quiz for teachers and students

Learning Intention / Overview

This quiz will access students’ understanding of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl.  Students will read closely to determine what the text says explicitly as well as make logical inferences about characters and events from the story.  Students will also answer questions about key ideas, theme, and other literary elements.  This quiz will include questions from knowledge and reasoning standards.

Methods / Teaching Strategies


  Independent Task


Assessment of Learning

·         Quiz (provided)

click here to download the free lesson plan

Teach note writing through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Learning Intention / Overview

Responding to literature can be fun and creative.  There are many methods for students to use when responding to a piece of literature. This activity will focus on thank you note writing.  This will allow students to write from first person point of view.  This shows educators what students understand about a text as students reveal their thinking, feelings, and reactions to the literature they have read. 

Methods / Teaching Strategies

 Class Discussion

  Reviewing parts of thank you notes

 Independent Writing


Assessment of Learning

·         Thank you note

·         Demonstrates an understanding of first person point of view through writing a note card.

click here to download the free lesson plan

Teaching the dialogue of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Learning Intention / Overview

This activity will allow students to develop an understanding of dialogue.  Dialogue is what is being spoken by characters in a text.  Understanding who is speaking allows students to better understand the plot and/or events taking place in a story. A character’s dialogue is also important because it often sets or reflects the mood in the story.  This activity will also strengthen background knowledge for word choice in identifying signals for dialogue. (said, shouted, yelled, spoke, etc.)

Methods / Teaching Strategies

 Group Discussion

  Identifying signal words

Independent Work

Assessment of Learning

·         Participation in Discussion

·         Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down (informal assessment)

“Who Said That” Skill sheet (provided)

Click here to download the free lesson plan

Teaching adjectives and adverbs from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Learning Intention / Overview

Adjectives are words that describe nouns.  Adverbs are words that describe verbs.   This activity will practice identifying and locating adjectives and adverbs by describing parts of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Adjectives and adverbs can be part of word skills that incorporate vocabulary that is important in helping students form mental images about scenes and settings in a story.  Forming these metal pictures assists students in understanding what they are reading.

Methods / Teaching Strategies

Class Discussion


Creative Art

   Independent Practice

Assessment of Learning

·         Adjectives and Adverbs  Page(provided)

·         Demonstrated an understanding of adjectives and adverbs through art.

Click here to download the free lesson plan