My students and I are writing letters. They are writing to me and I am writing to them. And they are loving it! In fact, they are asking for it each week. They look forward to it!
What a lovely thing...students wanting to write...students looking forward to writing...students wanting to read what was written to them. Reading and writing that students LOVE participating in!!
Shouldn't be a surprise. The letters are personal- what they want to say to me and and what I respond back to them.
Take a look at this early on letter. Our third graders have to write a letter on the state test. So I was having my second and third graders write letters each week to me to learn the correct letter form and to get some practice in on staying on topic. They would sometimes just write in response to what they were learning from reading. Sometimes they had to write to answer a question about their reading. This letter writer had the correct form and content but really didn't stretch himself any with his ideas. Just short and sweet to compare how seeds are scattered.
After students write to me, I reply back to them. This is the part they love the most! They cannot wait to see what I replied back to them. I tell them if they ask me something, I will answer them when I reply. You can see that I don't write a lot in response, so it doesn't take me long to write back. They don't care, they just like it that someone wrote to them. :) So simple and yet so powerful.
Look at this letter! This letter is written by the same student that wrote the first letter above. And it is only one week later- look at the progress!! He did stretch himself this time. He has many more ideas to explain to me about that he is learning. This letter continues on to the back of the page even with all he wanted to tell me! He wrote about what he previously learned plus new information.
I do have some guidelines for the students. In a regular classroom you might not need these guidelines. But because my students are struggling, I try to utilize every minute we have with authentic activities that will increase their literacy skills. So I have them always write in response to what we have read, and not have it be an open letter to me. That is because my students need practice communicating what they have learned, staying on topic, and even writing to answer specific questions about their reading. Like in the first letter, the students had to write to me to compare two different kinds of seed.
I got this letter writing with my students from another blogger and I can't remember who it was. If it was you, please let me know so I can credit you and link back to you. That blogger had the letters going home to parents and the parents writing back. That doesn't work as well for me since my students don't stay with me. I am not there at the end of the day to be sure the journals go home and to remind them to bring them back. So we just write back and forth in my room.
This is an experiment that I will have to continue and improve for next year! I found it so beneficial for the students and something they looked forward to doing each week!