Journal prompts can be based on any topic that inspires a student to write when he is stuck for ideas. Personal fears, accomplishments or memories are generally very productive types of prompts. Plans for the future, or prompts that include questions about a student's favorite things can also help spark creative writing.
There are many writing prompts that teachers can use to help kick-start student writing. Prompts that ask the students about personal experiences, such as what they did over the summer or their favorite vacation are useful because every student has something to write about these topics.
Prompts that require a detailed explanation produce more written material from students than those answered with a yes or no. Prompts that include a yes-or-no question should also require the student to explain why he holds a certain opinion.
Prompts that involve writing a letter to someone are frequently used. Students can write a letter to a loved one, a person they admire, or a favorite character from a movie or television show. Students can be prompted to write about what they would do if they were given three wishes, won the lottery, or had supernatural powers.
Photos are another type of effective journal prompt. Students can write a story involving a scene in a given picture, or create a back story involving a person from a photograph.