I once heard the saying that good writers borrow and great writers steal. I suppose the same could be said of teachers, and this is a lesson I stole from a teacher I worked with several years ago.
The assignment is simple: the students give their own eulogy. They pretend that they are at their own funeral and write the eulogy from the point of view of someone who would be there–a sibling, a child, a friend. They explain in the eulogy how and when they died, as well as what they accomplished in their life and how they are remembered.
What I like about this assignment is that students have to think about what they want to accomplish over the course of their life. And, of course, you can tie in any additional writing or speaking related objectives you wish–have students outline their eulogies, write rough drafts, edit and revise. Judge their speeches on volume, tone, body language, creativity, or whatever else matches your class. And though you could really do it any time, I’m particularly fond of this one for the end of the year.