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Home > Educator Resources > Letter Writing

Letter Writing

Context:
Letter writing helps students see that writing has a purpose. It enables them to communicate with others near or far from home. Students learn how to conduct research and put it into well-focused, organized letters using correct spelling, capitalization, grammar and punctuation. Emphasis will also be placed on using the proper five-part letter form (address, greeting, body, closing and signature).

Computer technology can be used in researching, writing and printing letters.

Curriculum:
Standards for the English Language Arts

Sponsored by NCTE and IRA

http://www.n cte.org/about/over/standards

12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

U.S. National Geography Standards

Sponsored by National Geographic

http://www.ncge.org/publications/tutorial/standards/

Element 2: Places and Regions

Standard 6 - How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions

National Council for the Social Studies

http://www.ncss.org/st andards/

IX. Global Connections: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of global connections and interdependence.

Attachments:

None

Other materials:
  • Research materials for pre-letter writing preparation (web-based, library materials, etc.)
  • Names and addresses of local newspapers (for editorials), state and national representatives of legislative bodies, state and national environmental organizations
  • Model letter (sample "take action" letters can be found on websites such as http://www.worldwildlif e.org, http://www.oceana.org or http://www.savebiogems.or g)
  • Writing supplies - Pens, pencils, paper, computer
  • Envelopes/postage
  • Assessment rubric

Instructional sequence:
Discuss reasons people write letters - formal and informal (congratulations, inquiry, informational, point of view, commendation, etc.)

Discuss students' personal experiences with letter writing. What kinds of letters have they received? What letters have they written?

Show students a model letter.

Ask students to search for letters in editorial pages of newspapers, journals, magazines, etc. Why were these letters written?

Inform students they will be conducting research on a variety of topics that are impacting local/national resources (logging, agriculture, fishing, oil drilling, consumerism, mining, land development, etc).

Develop a list of questions that will be used as a guide in conducting the research. Student involvement is important.

Organize students into cooperative learning groups to conduct research on the assigned topic.

Compile students' findings on each topic as a class exercise.

Encourage groups to explore possible solutions to some of the threats to resources. Share their findings with the class.

Allow each student to select topic/topics of special interest. Each student will then choose to write a letter to a newspaper or government official stating their point of view and possible solutions; or write a letter to an environmental organization about their work in a particular area. Inform students that good editorials and letters include facts and details in addition to the author's opinions. Good information and sample "take action" letters can be found on websites such as www.worldwildlife.org, www.oceana.org, or savebiogems.org

Allow students to read their letters to the class prior to mailing.

Extensions:
  • Lower grade level option: Student can research plant/animal of interest and compile data on habitat and adaptations to ecosystem. Student will then write a letter to a classmate telling them about their plant or animal.
  • Classrooms could partner with "buddy classrooms" to exchange information via written letters and/or email.
  • Students may choose to create their own stationery using art supplies or a software package

Assessment:
  • Assessment rubric
  • Critique by peers

Literacy advancement:
  • Reading for research
  • Writing for a specific purpose
  • Interpreting information
  • Exposure to new vocabulary
  • Organizing written thought

Author: Brown, Carolyn


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