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WritingFix: A Family Writing Project...Weekly School/Home Letters

A Family Writing Project Idea from WritingFix
Focus Trait: IDEA DEVELOPMENT Trait Skill: WRITING WITH A CLEAR TOPIC IN MIND

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Weekly School/Home Letters

This writing lesson was created by Nevada teacher Kim Polson. Kim believes this family writing project would be appropriate with students in grades 1-12.


Three-Sentence Overview:

To foster written communication through students and family members while addressing topics which impact the students’ daily lies.Teachers will address a topic of interest with students (current events, life issues, read aloud, etc.) which the students will then write a letter to their parents about. Weekly, the students will take these letters home and have their parents write a written response. Both letters will then come back to school, be placed in the student’s portfolio, and saved until the end of the year.


6-Trait Skills Focus:

Idea Development: Writing with a clear, central idea or theme in mind.

Organization: 1) Beginning the writing with a strong introduction; 2) Ending the writing with a satisfying conclusion by linking conclusion back to the introduction.

Word Choice: 1) Incorporating interesting adjectives into the writing well, especially using words that convey intended mood and tone; 2) Using strong verbs to keep the sentences interesting; 3) Using precise nouns to assist the reader’s understanding.

Voice: 1) Conveying passion towards the message of the writing or topic; 2) Thinking about and making decisions to acknowledge the intended audience.


Materials List:

Each week the teacher will choose a topic of discussion. I have gotten my ideas for these topics from many different places. Some examples of these are:

  • Time Life For Kids
  • Current events from newspapers and Internet (timeforkids.com, scholasticnews.com)
  • Picture books that discuss personal issues such as bullying, goal setting, etc.
  • Current events in our classroom or school
  • Holiday/ family traditions
  • Feelings

I also provide my students will a copy of the friendly letter format that I would like them to follow.


Teacher Instructions:

  • Each week the teacher will choose a topic of discussion. I have gotten my ideas for these topics from many different places. Some examples of these are:

    • Time Life For Kids
    • Current events from newspapers and Internet
    • Picture books that discuss personal issues, such as bullying.
    • Current events in our classroom
    • Holiday traditions
  • After a shared reading, read-aloud and/or class discussion talk with students about the given topic. Brainstorm a list of ideas which they can share with their parents about the topic in a letter format. They are encouraged to convey their thoughts and emotions in a very real and upfront way.
  • The criteria for my 5 th graders is that they must write AT LEAST 10 sentences on the topic AND ask their parents three questions. (It is wonderful to see that they always end up writing far more than ten sentences.) They must also follow the correct format for writing a friendly letter. You will want to provide detailed criteria for what you are looking for.
  • The students take these letters home to their parents on Thursday afternoon and their parents write back. Their letters, and the letters from their parents, are returned on Friday morning. If the letters are private, they may return the letters in a sealed envelope to keep their privacy.
  • The letters are kept in a portfolio until the end of the year, at which time they are sent home as a keepsake.

Parent/Student Instruction Sheet:

Dear Parents,

As part of our writing curriculum I would like to introduce our letter-writing portfolio. Each week your child will be writing you a letter on a given topic. This topic will be related to something we have discussed in class which may include current events, life issues, literature, etc. They will give you the letters they have written on Thursday evening; have you read them and WRITE A LETTER BACK TO THEM ON THE GIVEN TOPIC. They will then bring BOTH letters back to school the next day. Here they will be given a chance to share the letters and then put them into their 5 th grade portfolio. I will keep these letters all year and send them home as a very treasured part of their fifth grade memories. Thank you for taking the time to write to your child. I believe it helps show them the importance of writing in our society.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Polson


Positive Impacts on Parents/Students/Families:

Life can be so hectic. Sometimes parents don’t have the time they would like to discuss important topics with their children. Sometimes topics are just too touchy to speak about out loud. Through letter writing students and parents have the chance to share their thoughts and feelings with their parents/ guardians. They also get the chance, many of them for the first time, to see their parents/guardians as writers. Through this lesson, many written discussions, on very real topics, are had. Lastly, students have a written memory of who they were in 5th grade. They learn so much about their parent’s pasts, responsibilities, feelings and ideas.


Links to Similar Lessons at WritingFix:

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