Many times I will give a simple writing topic, but I have been trying to change mine to make them more engaging. We were working on words like the simple future tense. I told the students to think of a famous person alive or dead with whom they would like to spend a day. They were going to plan out their day and write what they were going to do with this person. (It could easily be adapted to conditional or subjunctive if you would like.) The kids were really excited to write down what they were going to do with these people. It was a simple twist from write down plans with your friend this weekend, but the engagement was completely different.