A Real Thank You

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SWBAT write a thank you letter to people who donated materials, books, and funds to a class project.

Big Idea

The art of saying thank you is so much more meaningful when students put their words on paper. In this lesson students write real thank you notes that will be mailed to give them a real world experience and motivation for genuine effort.

Purpose for Writing

5 minutes

To open the lesson I wanted students to brainstorm all of the purposes we could for writing. I prompt them to think of types of writing and why we write this way. Students did this rather quickly and their reasons for writing were creative and insightful. One student explained that writing can be a way of getting things out you do not want to say aloud. I thought these types of comments were beneficial for the class to hear.

Toward the end of the brainstorm, I brought attention to the purpose and reasons for writing a letter. My class not only thought of the why of writing letters, but went into examples of when they have done this themselves. I then asked about thank you letters, notes, or cards. The class determined that you can write these for anything.  A good reason to write one is when you feel someone should know how you felt about what they did. This is perfect because I want them to relate the idea of telling someone they are thankful with writing to express that. 

Sentences of Support

5 minutes

To help give them idea of how to make their thankful letter more personal, I show them the materials we are going to use in the future. These are the materials that were donated materials for our spring unit on Greece. I ask them to think about how we might use them and what we might learn from them. 

I then ask if they will help me create some personal sentences. These sentences we should be able to add to our thank you letter. They need to help explain our thoughts and feelings of being given these materials to learn from. The picture is of the sentences my class and I created together. I instruct the class that they can use these examples if they want to or create their won similar to them. 

The Structure

5 minutes

To put these sentences to use we now need to remember the structure of a letter. I place a lined paper under the document camera and make sure to point out the orientation of the paper. I still have a few students who do not pay attention to the holes and the side in which they should start on.

To start we need to make sure the line is on the left side and that we include a date on the top line. I model this under the document camera and give them time to copy it. Then, I model how to skip a space and start my greeting. I open up the iPad again and get the correct spelling of the donors names to add to the greeting. I model how I look it up and copy it to my paper. 

Next, I show where I am going to begin my body of the letter. I write a generic sentence that introduces my name and grade to the reader. I ask them all to copy this structure and format onto their paper. All of my class will have the same beginning to their letter if they paid attention to the modeling portion. 


Meaningful Writing

15 minutes

Finally, I ask for pencils up, and eyes on me. They need to listen carefully to the next steps. They are now going to have to make the thank you more personal and meaningful. Instead of copying from the board now, they need to think of what they can say to express their personal thanks and excitement for the new materials.

I give an example of how I am excited to read a new book that no other student in Thomas has been able to read. The books are brand new and not in our library. I model how I can put my thought into a sentence. I do not add this sentence to my lined paper; the lined paper I originally modeled on because I do not want my students copying my example. 

Now that they have a structure and some ideas on how to start I allow them to get going with their writing. I walk around and help students that need help and make sure that everyone is writing their own letter with their own ideas. 

Edit to Close

5 minutes

If you noticed, I never modeled how to end or close the letter. In order to get this instruction, students are going to have to check in with me. At this time I will proofread their letter and model the closing for each student. This gives me an opportunity to evaluate and assess their writing. I can also make note at this time if extra intervention in this area is needed.