Who doesn’t love receiving a letter?!

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Who doesn’t love receiving a letter in the mail?!  Letter writing is still a valuable, authentic learning experience in the classroom.  It teaches students how to effectively communicate their thoughts into writing.  It gives students a purpose for writing.  And they eagerly wait for a reply!

In each teaching experience I’ve had, letters have been included and provided an authentic, meaningful experience.  Below outlines some of the activities I’ve done and I know the list can be expanded.

  • Second grade students learned how to write letters around Thanksgiving time.  They had to choose a teacher at school to write a letter to saying why they were thankful for that person.  I was lucky to receive a few!
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  • Second grade students learned how to write letters while learning about government leaders.  As a class, we wrote a letter  to the mayor that I emailed to him; he wrote back!  I then planned an assembly for him to come answer some of their questions.  Students also each wrote a letter to President Obama asking him questions and telling him something they were learning.

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  • First graders learned how to write letters and each wrote a letter to their parents.  Using a class email account, they typed their letters and sent them.  They wanted a reply, and their parents sent very sweet ones.  We checked the email account a few times during the day and read aloud the replies.  Both the students and their parents loved this!
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Everyone loves receiving mail.  Writing letters gives students a positive, authentic experience, and they love when they receive a reply!  I want to continue letter writing in the future, possibly virtually or with pen pals.  What are other ways you have used letter writing?

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Creating Community Collages

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The technology specialist wanted to introduce a new app to the first grade students: Pic Collage.  We brainstormed what would be a good subject based on what students were learning.  Remembering that we were discussing communities, I suggested create a collage about things they can find in their community.  We decided that students would have to choose 3 things in their community to create their collage.

As a class, we brainstormed different things that are in our community.  I wanted to make sure students had choices for their pictures, but we wanted some control so they weren’t searching on the open Internet.  We learned it’s important o be prepared and planning takes time because finding pictures for the iPads turned into its own project for me!  In the end, I had to search for and save pictures on one iPad, upload them to Dropbox, and then download them to the other iPads.  I’m not sure if this was the best method, but it worked.

In small groups, the technology specialist and I taught students how to use Pic Collage and it’s different features.  We provided assistance as needed as well as a word wall list.  The students quickly learned how to use the app and became independent workers.  They did a great job and wrote some great sentences describing what’s in their community.

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This is a great app for students to create fun projects showcasing different pictures, even ones they’ve taken.  We are already looking for another way to use this app again in our curriculum!

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