This lesson is about engaging students in the project and giving them an opportunity to practice letter writing with paragraphs.
This lesson starts with a short introduction to the project. I explain to the students that as part of a school project, we will be focusing on one country as a class but each student will be taking a part of the project and making it their own. This means that each student will be choosing a different topic or part of a topic to research and prepare a presentation on for the school. The country we will be focusing on is Vietnam. I ask the students to share what they think they know about Vietnam. Although, they will be learning a lot through the project, their is not one big idea for the topic of Vietnam that I want student to discover, therefore I did not use a K-W-L chart to record their thinking. Instead I just asked them to share out loud to start them thinking.
I affirm all the things they shared and begin to record some general topic headings that were shared such as "food", "animals", "location", etc. After I listed those ideas, I ask students to help me add to the list of possible things we might research and want to share with people that don't know about Vietnam. Students share out more topic and I revise them if students' ideas are too specific. Some of the basic topics are "visual art", "music", "plants", "spiritual", "architecture," etc.
I then tell them that the next step is to chose a few topics that they are personally interested in studying. Because we have so many people and so many topics, they will each have to study their own topic althought they might be able to work with someone else if their topics are similar and they will be sharing resources.
In order to do that, they will be writing me a letter, requesting their top three choices.
To model how to write a request letter, I review my letter writing poster or show a letter that I've already written as an example. We review the parts of the letters starting with the date, the greeting, the body, the closing, and ending with the signature. I remind them that they are writing the letter to me so my name comes after "Dear".
The most important part of the letter is the body paragraphs. To model how to organize the writing for the letter, I show them how I write a short but clear introduction indicating that they letter is to request that that I get approved for one of the topics. I also state the three topics in the introduction.
I then continue to demonstrate how one of the paragraphs might look. Starting with a topic sentence such as, "The first topic I would like to research is animals of Vietnam". I then continue with my reasons why such as referring to an animal I'm interested in that is from Vietnam.
After giving one reason as an example, I ask students to help me add to my paragraph by suggesting other reasons.
Finally, I show students a quick and short way to write the closing by restating the purpose for letter and asking for the first topic to be chosen.
After I modeled out to write a request letter, students go off to begin writing their own. They use separate sheets of lines paper and can choose to double space or sing space their writing. I leave all of the modeling resources out and keep them available to students to refer to.
After about 10 minutes of them writing, I ask them stop and share with their table group. I want them to share what they were interested in and share one reason for each of the paragraphs.
Finally, I go over the topics from the previous list and ask students to raise their hands if they were interested in a specific topic. This gives me an idea of what their were interested in and also allows other students to notice who they might want to work with.