It seems like the word practical and school don't mix. I agree that essays are important but should not be focused on for more than 50% of their writing. Here are some other things students can write:
- Instructional lessons
- Short stories
- Anything creative writing
The first one is actually the best one. I always feel that students should teach people 2 or 3 grade levels below. You learn by teaching and it would be a great way for the student teachers to learn more about teaching. But it seems like most schools would rather have a teacher with 6 years of education and hundreds hours of volunteer work.
There are plenty of other and more exciting mediums to write about other than essays. Perhaps students would write more if they were more interested in the topics they were writing about.