I'm teaching ninth and tenth grade English at a small, all-boys religious private school where the kids, largely, do not value or respect secular studies. Every day, I have them journal for 5 minutes or so at the start of class. Sometimes I give them freewrites, other times prompts. Either way, I meet resistance such as "I don't know what to write about" or "I'm done" (after writing two sentences). I tell them they can write about anything they want during free-writes, that they can adapt questions, within reason, if they don't like them, that they don't have to worry about spelling, grammar, correctness, they just have to write. I still get lots of blank pages or one or two sentence responses. Here have been my last two prompts (we're working up to a description paper). "Describe your favorite room at home." "Describe a person you know and admire". Typical responses. "I don't have a favorite room." "it's the kitchen, what am I supposed to write? There's a refrigerator in it. I'm done. Oh, and the walls are yellow." "I don't admire anyone." "He's got brown eyes and brown hair and he's really smart; I'm done. Now what?" I've told the students I'm going to check their journals twice a quarter and grade them on perceived effort. Sometimes I've gotten responses from students like, "I'd rather not write anything and be thought stupid than write something and confirm it"--not a bad response if they would write it! but they just complain aloud. Any advice?