This lesson can be a very effective lesson at any point of the year but it is especially connected to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events. As a class, after studying important people that participated positively in the Civil Rights Movement, we were ready to reflect on how their work and sacrifices effective the lives students live today.
To introduce this lesson, I asked students to share out some of the people we've learned about this year and what they did in history. I also accept ideas about people that we did not study in class but the students may have learned about on their own. I help the students focus their brainstorm on people who made a positive impact.
I explain to the class that today, we are going to learn how to use the letter format to thank those people for the work they did to change our world.
In order to teacher students how to write a letter, we first had to examine one and identify its characteristics. I showed students an example of a letter that I wrote to them regarding a book we've read in class. The letter had all parts that I wanted the students to have in their letter.
I asked students what they noticed and as they shared, I labeled the parts with more specific vocabulary. The labels were written next to the section.
After the class identified all of the important parts, I guided them through the writing of their own letter.
When students were ready to write the body, I shared an example of what I can thank someone for. I thought out loud, "I thank Malala for being strong and determined when fighting for the right for girls and women to get an education in Afghanistan. Without her, the girls of Afghanistan and I may not have as much hope and optimism that we can all fight for what's right." A few students are called on to share think out loud what they may want to write about. I then ask students to share with each other before deciding what they will write in their letter.
I try to have students own this lesson by using their ideas and ways of expressing their thanks.
When students have completed their letter, I explain that a signature is a fancy way of writing their name and that for now, if they do not have one, they can write their name in cursive. I suggest they ask to see their parents' signatures when they get home.
Finally, students get to share with each other. After I review them, I give them back to to the students so they can bring them home to share with their families.
This lesson is meant to teach students how to write a letter but it gives them a reason to write a letter which is more engaging than giving a random topic to write about. There a few different ways format a letter but every letter has those five elements that I taught in this lesson. Letter writing is different than other forms of writing and therefore, requires a specific lesson on formatting. This lessons is meant to do just that.