What a great idea from @chrislehmann! His Elluminate speech referenced a Spanish IV project. The students’ wrote an essay about themselves; specifically, what people see on the outside vs. what the student possesses on the inside. The Spanish students learned and created masks to reflect their outsides and insides. They then cut up pieces of their essay and used that to decorate their masks. What a neat project to do at the beginning of the school year. This would be a great way to learn the students and their inner passions/fears/beliefs.
Another essay I used was about the students’ favorite song. This essay would be a great vehicle for teaching persuasive writing. They followed this template and had to convince me if their favorite song would be remembered years from now.
I guess what I am getting at is tweaking the writing projects to reflect more of the student. Sure, you can still practice the various forms of writing but gear them toward the student and his/her interest. I think this would motivate the student to write and write more passionately.