two of the classes i coteach began letter writing units, which encourage the children to write to adults in the building, who will write them back. nothing inspires first graders or kindergartners more than the opportunity to correspond with a real human being, whoever that may be.
to motivate their writing in kindergarten i wrote the class a letter, decorated it, sealed it with a sticker (ah, the magic of stickers) and left it with their teacher to ceremoniously open as a way to introduce the excitement of letter-writing. and of course, i promised to write anyone back who wrote me.
i returned to my desk that day to stacks of letters. i wrote back. they wrote back. more wrote. i wrote back. another class began the letter writing unit. i wrote to them. they wrote back.
my fingers are tired and cramping. how many different ways can you say, "Thank you for the letter! Wow, you worked really hard on stretching out those letters!"
yet there is so much charm in each little one's carefully crafted letter, whether it is a string of letters that when read-aloud says, "i love you so, so, much, come to my house today, ok?" or a perfectly spelled out, "thanks for reading to me". how do you not encourage this love of writing? how do you not press on, fingers numb, asking questions to encourage yet another flurry of letters. "what is your favorite book?" "where is your favorite place to read?"
to see the light in their eyes when they get their own special letters.
one of our first grade little ones spent the evening writing her own letters to us, placing each carefully crafted letter in an envelope to deliver the next day. this is not a family with extra envelops lying around, nor is it a family that gives their children homework help. this little one was so inspired by the letter-writing unit that she went home and tried it herself, (even remembering to add the date to the top).
i love a unit that inspires students to go home and try something voluntarily.
so, i have my kindergarten and first grade stationary in front of me to watch tv this evening. perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if both classes weren't doing this at the same time...