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2020 has been a year like no other. Between the global protests, the pandemic, and transitioning to remote learning, this year has presented challenges for children across the country. Istation wants to hear about your students’ experiences and how they were inspired this year. What did they learn about themselves? What important issues did they see, and what are their ideas on how to solve these challenges?

Istation’s middle school reading content is designed to focus on authentic learning experiences with diverse characters and stories. Read more about authentic learning for middle school students

Istation invites middle schoolers (students in grades 6-8) to share their perspective in Istation’s first annual national essay contest, Young Voices Make a Difference. This essay contest will run from November 16, 2020, to February 28, 2021. Winners will be announced March 31, 2021.

If your student’s entry is selected as the winner, their essay will be incorporated into the Istation HumanEx learning pathway for millions of students to see, read, and comprehend!

Click here to view a printable PDF of the contest flyer.

How to Submit

Click here and ask your parents or legal guardian to submit your essay for you. Essays may be submitted in English or Spanish. Educators can submit on behalf of the students but only with express written permission from a parent or legal guardian.

The contest begins on November 16, 2020, and ends on February 28, 2021. Only middle school students (grades 6-8) are eligible to enter the contest.

The Prompt and Rules

Prompt 

Someone once said, “Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.” You can inspire a movement by speaking up about what matters to you. What important  issue, if solved, would make our world a better place? Be sure to include why you deeply care about this issue and state what we may all do to help make a difference.

Writing Contest Rules

  • Essay must be an original personal narrative.
  • Essay must relate to the prompt.
  • Essay must be typed.
  • Essay must be 500-750 words.
  • Essay must include descriptive details.
  • Essay must contain a variety of transition words.
  • Essay must use sensory language.
  • Essay must have a clear message.
  • Essay must have emotional appeal.
  • Essay must have a logical sequence of events.
  • Essay must have a conclusion that follows the narrated event.

Prizes

Grand prize winner: One student’s piece will be selected as the grand-prize winner out of all the submissions, and their essay will be incorporated into the Istation HumanEx learning pathway. In addition, the student and teacher will both receive a 16GB tablet.

6 regional winners: 6 student winners will be selected as finalists. The student winners and their teachers will each receive a 16GB tablet.

Regional Breakdown:

Region 1 (Northwest): Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Region 2 (Midwest/Southwest): Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Region 3 ( Texas) - Texas

Region 4 ( Southeast) - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

Region 5 (California) - California

Region 6 (Northeast) - Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington DC

 

Student Checklist

Check each item below to ensure your writing is finished and ready to submit.

Writing Contest Rules

  • The narrative is original.
  • It relates to the prompt.
  • It has 500-750 words and is typed.
  • It has descriptive details.
  • It is linked with transition words.
  • It has sensory language.
  • It has well-organized paragraphs.
  • It has a clear message.
  • It has emotional appeal.
  • It has correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
  • Its conclusion follows logical events.

Personal Narrative Assessment Rubric

Focus and Organization (35 pts)

  • The piece expresses the views, thoughts, and feelings of the writer.
  • The main idea of the views, thoughts, and feelings is clear.
  • The writing is organized and appropriate to the audience.

Elaboration, Support, and Style (35 pts)

  • Ideas, opinions, and general statements are supported by specific details.
  • Vivid language is used to add interest to the writing.
  • Transition words help make the organization clear.

Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics (30 pts)

  • The writing is free of misspellings, and words are capitalized correctly.
  • Sentences are punctuated correctly, and the essay is free of fragments and run-on sentences.
  • The essay is typed and presented in an appropriate format.
  • The writing is inspirational.

Click here to view a printable PDF of the personal narrative assessment rubric.

Resources for Teachers

Get an engaging week of lessons to go along with Istation’s essay contest! 

Download the lesson for Day 1 here.

For more information and to get the rest of the lesson plans, please click here.

Istation Young Voices Make a Difference Middle School Essay Contest

OFFICIAL RULES

No purchase necessary to enter or win a prize in this contest. This is a skill-based contest; this is not a game of chance. Winners will be chosen based on the stated criteria.

  1. SPONSOR:  The Istation Young Voices Make A Difference Middle School Essay Contest (the “Contest”) is sponsored by Istation, located at 8150 North Central Expressway, Suite 2000, Dallas, TX, 75206.
  2. ELIGIBILITY:  The Contest is open to U.S. residents who are students currently enrolled in grades 6-8 (or, if home-schooled, are of equivalent age) as of the date of entry. Employees of Sponsor and its respective affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, sales representatives, agencies, dealers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and promotional and vendor agencies involved in the Contest, and the immediate families (spouse, parents, siblings and children) or household members of all such employees, are NOT eligible.  The Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited or restricted by law or regulations.  Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to these terms and conditions and Sponsor’s decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Contest. 
  3. ENTRY PERIOD:  All Contest entries must be submitted between 8:00 A.M. Central Time (CT) on November 16, 2020, and 5:00 P.M. CT on February 28, 2021.
  4. HOW TO ENTER:  To enter the Contest, parents/legal guardians (collectively, “parents”) of interested students must complete the online form provided at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSebS1A6Pw0tYgpo1Feay5e177_dQ0dEJtb9cogPsusrlbu1lw/viewform
    Parents must then complete the steps of the online entry process, including uploading the essay written by your child/legal ward (hereinafter, “child” or “student”). Parents will also be required to provide their full legal name, email address, phone number, age, and home address, as well as their child’s name, age, grade, and school. Incomplete entries or those that do not adhere to the Official Rules or specifications will be disqualified at the Sponsor's sole discretion. Limit one (1) entry per student. See below for entry criteria.
  1. ENTRY CRITERIA: To participate in this Contest, the student must prepare an essay responding to the following prompt:
    Someone once said, “Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.” You can inspire a movement by speaking up about what matters to you. What important  issue, if solved, would make our world a better place? Be sure to include why you deeply care about this issue and state what we may all do to help make a difference.
    The essay/entry must adhere to the following requirements:
  • Essay must be an original personal narrative.
  • Essay must relate to the prompt.
  • Essay must be typed in English.
  • Essay must be 500-750 words.
  • Essay must include descriptive details.
  • Essay must contain a variety of transition words.
  • Essay must use sensory language.
  • Essay must have a clear message.
  • Essay must have emotional appeal.
  • Essay must have a logical sequence of events.
  • Essay must have a conclusion that follows the narrated event.

    Entry must be student’s original creation and may not include copyrighted, trademarked, patented, or previously published material.  Entry requiring license or usage rights from any third party is not eligible.  Entry may not include any trademarked or copyrighted brand names/logos, except those of Sponsor.  Entry cannot defame or invade the rights or privacy of any person, living or deceased, or otherwise infringe upon any third party’s personal, proprietary, or intellectual rights.  Entry cannot contain illegal or unlawful material, and must not promote bigotry, racism, harm, or discrimination.  Entry must be consistent with Sponsor’s reputation in the marketplace and must be suitable for audiences of all ages.  Entries which, in Sponsor’s or judges’ sole discretion, contain any type of vulgarity or objectionable content will be disqualified.  Entries that do not meet these stated criteria, or entries that (in Sponsor’s or judges’ sole discretion) may technically meet the stated criteria but do not reflect the intent and the spirit of the Contest, are not eligible.
    Entry constitutes parent’s certification that his/her child is the owner of the entry and is able and authorized to submit it.  By submitting an entry, the parent agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Sponsor and its parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, sales representatives, agencies, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and promotional and other vendor agencies involved in this Contest from any and all claims, damages, expenses, costs (including reasonable attorney fees) and liabilities (including settlements), resulting from or relating to entrant’s submission, or any information supplied or represented to Sponsor by entrant.
  1. JUDGING CRITERIA:  Entries will be judged by a panel of judges selected and supervised by Sponsor, which may include middle school teachers and Istation professionals. Entries will be judged on a 100-point scale by the panel based on the following three (3) criteria:

Focus and Organization (35 pts)

  • The piece expresses the views, thoughts, and feelings of the writer.
  • The main idea of the views, thoughts, and feelings is clear.
  • The writing is organized and appropriate to the audience.

Elaboration, Support, and Style (35 pts)

  • Ideas, opinions, and general statements are supported by specific details.
  • Vivid language is used to add interest to the writing.
  • Transition words help make the organization clear.

Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics (30 pts)

  • The writing is free of misspellings, and words are capitalized correctly.
  • Sentences are punctuated correctly, and the essay is free of fragments and run-on sentences.
  • The essay is typed and presented in an appropriate format.
  • The writing is inspirational.

The judges will select the top entry (i.e., the entry with the highest total score) from among all entries received as the Grand Prize Winner. In addition, judges will select the top entry (excluding the Grand Prize Winner) from each of the six regions based on the stated criteria (the “Regional Winner”). The regional breakdown is as follows:

Region 1 (Northwest):             Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Region 2 (Midwest/Southwest):  Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Region 3 ( Texas):                   Texas

Region 4 ( Southeast):             Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

Region 5 (California):             California

Region 6 (Northeast):              Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington DC

All decisions by the judges are final and binding on all entries.  In the event of a tie, the tied entry that scores highest in the “Focus and Organization” category will be deemed the winner. If a tie still exists, then the tied entry that scores highest in the “Elaboration, Support, and Style” category will be deemed the winner.

Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received within each region and the quality of the entries received.

  1. WINNER NOTIFICATION:  The parent of the potential winner will be notified on or about [March 31, 2021], by email, using the information provided on the entry form.  PLEASE NOTE: Sponsor is not responsible for, nor shall have no liability for, a potential winner’s failure to receive notices due to email security settings that may cause notifications to be marked as spam or junk email. Nor shall be Sponsor be liable for the winner’s provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. The potential winner will be required to respond within five (5) business days of notification, or the prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner will be chosen.  Affidavit of eligibility (including SSN), prize acceptance form, tax information, assignment of rights, publicity release, and/or mutually acceptable liability releases may be required and, if so requested by Sponsor, must be returned within the reasonable specified time or Prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner chosen.

The Grand Prize Winner and the Regional Winners will be revealed on or about [March 31, 2021 by [email and post on Istation social media channels]. 

  1. PRIZES & APPROXIMATE RETAIL VALUES (ARV):  The Grand Prize Winner and each Regional Winner, and their teacher will receive the following:
  • One (1) Samsung [Samsung - Galaxy Tab E - 9.6" - 16GB - Black, Model:SM-T560NZKUXAR SKU:4515201] (16GB). (ARV of each tablet: $129.99)

In addition, the Grand Prize Winner’s essay will be incorporated into the Istation HumanEx learning pathway. (ARV: No intrinsic value; priceless.)

Total ARV of all prizes to be awarded:  $1,559.88.

All prizes will be awarded to the parents of winners on behalf of their children. All taxes, fees, and surcharges on prizes are the sole responsibility of the winners.  The winners will be issued an IRS Form 1099 for the fair market value of the prize inclusive of sales or other transaction taxes.  Affidavit of eligibility (including SSN), prize acceptance form, tax information, assignment of rights, personal services agreement, publicity release, and/or mutually acceptable liability releases may be required where not prohibited. Any and all guarantees and warranties for merchandise prizes are subject to the manufacturer’s and/or service providers terms and conditions, and winner agrees to look solely to such manufacturers and/or service providers for any warranty or guarantee claim.  Prizes are non-transferable except in the sole discretion of the Sponsor.  No substitution or cash equivalent is allowed.  Sponsor reserves the right to substitute prizes of the same approximate retail value.  Prize consists only of items specifically listed as part of the prize.  All costs and expenses not specified herein, related to any prize, including but not limited to delivery, installation, service activation fees, and other expenses incurred by accepting the prize, are the sole responsibility of the winner.

  1. LICENSE TO ENTRY MATERIAL:  As a condition of entry, each entrant grants Sponsor a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, fully sub-licensable and transferable worldwide exclusive license and permission to use, reproduce, edit, modify and exhibit, create derivative works of, transmit, distribute, and display the entry, in any and all media formats, whether now known or hereafter developed.  With respect to the Grand Prize Winner entry only, entrant further assigns all rights, title, and interest in the entry to Sponsor, including the exclusive right to secure trademark and copyright registrations and other rights for that entry anywhere throughout the world, the exclusive right to license, exploit, sell, assign, or otherwise dispose of the entry or any of the said rights included therein for any purpose which the Sponsor may see fit, and any and all subsidiary rights to the entry. Entrant will have no right of approval, review, or modification as to the future use, modification, or display of entrant’s entry.  Entrant shall have no right of compensation from, credit or attribution, or approval over any use of entry by Sponsor.  Sponsor has the right but not the obligation to post any entry for worldwide viewing on the Internet.  Entrants hereby forever waive and relinquish all so-called “moral rights (droit moral)” now or hereafter recognized in connection with any entry submitted as part of the Contest.  Entrants agree not to issue any publicity concerning Sponsor.  Entrants agree that neither Sponsor, nor its agents, shall be responsible for return or preservation of the entries submitted.  All entries that are posted on Sponsor’s website or elsewhere may be available to be viewed by the public. 

Grand Prize Winner agrees that, as a condition of any prize award, all rights, title, and interest in his or her entry will be transferred exclusively to Sponsor, and agrees to execute any additional written authorization, assignment, or other papers requested by Sponsor in connection with the transfer and assignment of rights to his/her entry, and any such written papers requested will be required as a condition of obtaining the prize, or another Grand Prize Winner will be selected.

  1. PUBLICITY RELEASE:  By entering, entrants authorize the Sponsor to post their entries on the Sponsor’s webpage for viewing by a world-wide audience.  Except where prohibited, acceptance of a prize constitutes winners’ consent that his or her name, likeness, voice and/or biographical data may be used for advertising and promotional purposes without limitation and without additional notice, compensation, or consent.  Submission of content to be posted online constitutes permission for same.
  2. RELEASE:  By entering, entrant agrees to accept and abide by the Official Rules of this Contest and agrees that any dispute with regard to the conduct of this Contest, rule interpretation, or award of prize shall be submitted to Sponsor, whose decision shall be binding and final.  By participating, you release Sponsor and its respective subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, employees, directors, and agents from any and against any and all injury, loss or damage including but not limited to, personal injury, death or damage to or loss of property, caused or claimed to be caused by your participation in the Contest. Entrant hereby agrees to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Sponsor and its respective officers, directors, employees, agents, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, licensees, successors, assignees, against any and all third party claims, damages, liabilities, costs and expenses, including reasonable legal fees and expenses, arising out of or related to any breach by the entrant of any provision of this document, including, without limitation, entrant’s representations and warranties.
  3. ADDITIONAL RULES: Entrant represents and warrants that: (i) he/she is the sole and exclusive owner of all rights to the entry submitted as part of the entry process, including without limitation all copyrights therein; (ii) his/her child is the individual producing the entry; and (iii) the entry will not violate or infringe upon the copyright, literary, privacy, publicity, trademark, service mark or any other personal or property right of any person or entity. Entry materials/data that have been tampered with or altered are void. Sponsor is not responsible for: (i) lost, late, stolen, misdirected, damaged, garbled, or illegible entries; (ii) error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operations or transmission, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to or alterations of entry materials, or for technical, network, telephone equipment, electronic, computer, hardware or software malfunctions of any kind, or inaccurate transmission of or failure to receive entry information by Sponsor on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any web site or any combination thereof; or (iii) any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating in the Contest.

LEGAL WARNING: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN INDIVIDUAL, WHETHER OR NOT AN ENTRANT, TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE, DESTROY, TAMPER OR VANDALIZE THIS WEB SITE OR INTERFERE WITH THE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST, IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL & CIVIL LAWS AND SPONSORS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES AND DILIGENTLY PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AGAINST ANY SUCH INDIVIDUAL TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

Sponsor is not responsible for any typographical or other error in the printing of this offer, administration of the Contest, or in the announcement of prizes, including erroneous appearance of qualification for a prize, and under no circumstances will more than the stated number of prizes be awarded.  Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to modify, cancel, or suspend this Contest, or to amend the Official Rules at any time, without prior individual notice, should any factor interfere with the administration, security, or proper play of this Contest as contemplated by these Official Rules. If for any reason Sponsor is prevented from continuing with this Contest, or the integrity and/or feasibility of the Contest is severely undermined by any event including but not limited to fire, flood, pandemic, epidemic, earthquake, explosion, labor dispute or strike, act of God or public enemy, satellite or equipment failure, riot or civil disturbance, war (declared or undeclared), terrorist threat or activity, or any federal, state or local government law, order or regulation, order of any court or jurisdiction, Sponsor shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to abbreviate, modify, suspend, cancel or terminate the Contest without further obligation. If Sponsor in its discretion elects to so abbreviate the Contest, Sponsor reserves the right, but not the obligation, to award the prize from among all eligible entries received to date. All entries are the physical property of Sponsor and are not returnable.

  1. DISPUTES / CHOICE OF LAW:  EXCEPT WHERE PROHIBITED, EACH ENTRANT AGREES THAT: (1) ANY AND ALL DISPUTES, CLAIMS AND CAUSES OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF OR CONNECTED WITH THIS CONTEST OR ANY PRIZE AWARDED SHALL BE RESOLVED INDIVIDUALLY, WITHOUT RESORT TO ANY FORM OF CLASS ACTION, AND EXCLUSIVELY BY STATE OR FEDERAL COURTS SITUATED IN TEXAS, (2) ANY AND ALL CLAIMS, JUDGMENTS AND AWARDS SHALL BE LIMITED TO ACTUAL OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS INCURRED, BUT IN NO EVENT ATTORNEYS’ FEES, (3) NO PUNITIVE, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, LOST PROFITS, MAY BE AWARDED (COLLECTIVELY, “SPECIAL DAMAGES”), AND (4) ENTRANT HEREBY WAIVES ALL RIGHTS TO CLAIM SPECIAL DAMAGES AND ALL RIGHTS TO SUCH DAMAGES MULTIPLIED OR INCREASED. TEXAS LAW, WITHOUT REFERENCE TO CHOICE OF LAW RULES, GOVERNS THE CONTEST AND ALL ASPECTS RELATED THERETO.
  2. PRIVACY: As a condition of entering the Contest, each entrant agrees his or her personally identifiable information (and that of his/her child) submitted as part of an entry will be used to administer the Contest, select prize winners, and fulfill prizes. Such information may be shared with Sponsor’s agents and affiliates as necessary to administer the Contest, confirm Winner identity or materials, and fulfill the prizes.  Information will be treated in accordance with Sponsor’s Privacy Policy available on Sponsor’s website.
15. WINNER’S LIST:  To receive any legally-required name of the winner, send a legal-size, self-addressed, stamped envelope within sixty (60) days of the end of the Contest to: Istation Young Voices Make A Difference Middle School Essay Contest – WINNERS’ LIST, Istation, 8150 North Central Expressway, Suite 2000, Dallas, TX, 75206. Winner’s List to be available after March 21, 2021.

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Free e-brochure shows how Istation differentiates instruction and personalizes learning.

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