A young man in my class came over to me sobbing with tears streaming down his face this afternoon, about fifteen minutes after they started writing.
(This must be read very slowly with many sobs in the middle.) "I can't think of anything to write about."
It should be noted that this assignment did not affect their grade in any way. To prepare for next week's state writing test, the students were given six prompts to choose from to do a practice essay. I said, numerous times, that my goal was for them to write to one prompt so that we could sit down together, just the two of us, to identify strengths and consider what they need to really remember next week. I tried really, really hard not to put any pressure on this.
None of that mattered to this student. I can't imagine what the actual test will do to him.