It began early. The bus was late. I barely had time for illegal photocopying. (I admit it--for the cause of writing that my students could learn from in writing of their own.)
To provide meaningful writing experience for students, ask them who they are, and don't settle for surface answers. Then feedback. Then a new draft, maybe starting at a page and stretching it--like dough, I claim--to a page or two, then two or three, finally 4-5. Like the wide receiver, going deep.
They've got the material; all it takes is the chance and a watchful eye.
The afternoon class is doing the same from different prompts. Most students see "informal personal essay" as easy, but if they don't push, too bad for their readers.