Write a Letter! - National Council of Teachers of English
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Write a Letter!

December 7 is Letter Writing Day! Take a few minutes, and send someone a hand written letter. Then, invite your students to also write letters using these resources from ReadWriteThink.org.

Tone, purpose, and audience. In this lesson, students compare an e-mail with a traditional letter. They then work in small groups to identify the style and intended audience for sample letters and e-mails about forgotten homework. Finally, each student writes both an e-mail and a letter about the same topic.

This activity uses literature and shared writing to teach letter-writing format and promote authentic letter writing. Students listen to and talk about stories dealing with correspondence before participating in a collaborative, whole-group letter-writing activity. They go on to write their own letters to deliver or mail to adult school helpers, family, or friends. Students often go on to write letters on their own time, which may generate ongoing correspondence.

Whether children and teens miss friends who’ve moved away or want to keep in touch with family while traveling, letter writing is the key to ongoing communication. Invite young adults to write letters to classmates, postcards from travels, and e-mails to family and friends. There are endless possibilities for this type of communication as described in this activity.

In this lesson, students discuss literature through a series of letter exchanges, in the form of handwritten letters, typed letters, electronic documents, e-mail, online discussion posts, and even Weblog posts. Students begin by exchanging letters that explore an issue or idea from a selected text. They discuss ways of writing open-ended letters that foster discussion, leaving room for responses to their letters, and keeping letters focused on a point. They then continue to exchange letters as they read the text, exchanging a minimum of three letters in a series.

What role does letter writing play in your classroom?