Today, students will apply their knowledge that they've learned over the last two days to write a letter to a soldier thanking them for their service. The students enter the room, once again to patriotic music playing. The Smartboard is on in the background showing an image of a flag and a Veterans Day message.
On the students' desk is another quick write. I give the students time to complete their quick write before we proceed.
Once students finish writing, I have them draw a line under their own ideas and add the ideas we hear during discussion. We then begin sharing the ideas students have generated.
After the lists of reasons we should be thankful are generated, we review the parts of a letter. Students are intimately familiar with friendly letters by the 4th grade, but it doesn't hurt to review. The last page of the Smartboard file is a lined piece of paper to record the parts of a friendly letter in the proper places so students have a model to follow.
The Smartboard file contains information from Operation Gratitude and gives helpful hints for writing the letters. There are two pages that I review with my students so they know what to write and what not to write about. There are also examples of greetings they can use to address the veterans.
I instruct the students to include their first name only and my name plus the school's address in the body of the letter so that if the veteran wants to write back, they can do it safely. Those are the parameters set forth. I then encourage them to use their lists as they write their letters.
A note here: Of course some students will finish before others. I use this time to edit their letters. I don't normally do that, but if something is being sent to another human being, I want it to be correct. As some of my stronger writers finish, I allow them to become editors as well. In the meantime, all other students are editing someone's paper as they finish, it is just that one of my editors or myself is the final editor.
After all students have had a chance to draft, edit and revise their letters, it is time to collect them and get them mailed off. I address the large envelope with the students (you would be amazed at how many 4th graders do not know how to address an envelope), put the stamps on the envelope and choose one lucky kiddo to walk it down to the office to drop it in the mail. Now, we wait to see if someone writes us back!!