So my students have viewed, analyzed and written about numerous forms of Ruby Bridges' story. Today they get to see the real woman. My students are amazed that she is still alive!! I begin by showing them a slide show of Ruby Bridges artifacts before we get to the part they're waiting for!!
We watch the first interview which is with Ruby's mom, Lucille Bridges, discussing the decision to put Ruby at William Frantz and her experiences near the 50th anniversary of the event. I give the students some time to record their thoughts and any questions they want to ask before I start the second interview.
We then watch the second interview which is with a grown up Ruby Bridges discussing her feelings and experiences when she went to William Frantz and I ask students to record their thoughts and any questions they have.
These thoughts and questions will be used to help students write their letters to the real life Ruby Bridges.
After we watch the video interviews, I hand out the graphic organizer the students will use to write their letter to Ruby. I go through the graphic and the students begin working.
As students are finishing letters, I have them pair up and edit each other's work. Like in other writing lessons, I know that this step- although necessary for developing writers- is not as effective as an editing exercise as I would like so I try to circulate and help with editing as much as possible.
Whenever I do letters that are going to be sent to another human being outside of our school, I am careful to do A LOT of editing. This is less an exercise in spelling and capitalization than an exercise in effectively communicating. If the students thoughts are good, I can edit and not feel guilty whereas if I'm actually grading their writing for writing's sake I won't edit so as not to taint their own work.
After the letters are written and edited and final copies are ready, it is time to have an envelope lesson. I show the students how to fold their letter to fit in a legal size envelope. Since my class is used to doing foldables, this worked out OK. And then we address the envelope. Letters to Ruby Bridges can be sent to:
P.O. Box 870248
New Orleans, LA 70187
I use an envelope under the ELMO and address the letter line by line letting students copy my work so theirs end up in a mailable condition. Once the letters are addressed, everyone gets a stamp and they get to put their letters in the mailbox as we go to lunch.
Hopefully we'll hear something back!!