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HomeClassroom ResourcesCalendar Activities

July 07

Write letters that make things happen!

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Write letters that make things happen!

Grades 1 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Historical Figure & Event

 

EVENT DESCRIPTION

 

 

On July 7, 1983, Samantha Smith, a U.S. schoolgirl, flew to the Soviet Union at the invitation of Premier Yuri Andropov, all because of a letter that she wrote. Smith wrote a letter to Andropov asking, "Why do you want to conquer the whole world, or at least our country?" The Soviet leader replied to her letter, and Samantha ultimately visited the nation, becoming a good-will ambassador.

 

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY

 

 

Have your students write their own letters that make things happen. Students can write individual letters, or work in small groups or as a full group. Letter writing can be a culminating project after you've completed a unit of study on a particular topic. For instance, if you've just completed a unit on animals, students might write letters to the local zoo, praising them for the ways that they care for animals or making suggestions for changes. After exploring freedom of speech in a censorship unit, students might write letters to the editor of the local newspaper explaining their feelings about specific books that are (or aren't) included in the library.

In addition to the resources available in the Letter Generator and on the Letter Generator page, there are resources available from Gallaudet University that demonstrate how to write advocacy letters. The American Civil Liberties Union provides tips on writing letters to the editor and letters to elected officials, which can be useful for projects where students are looking at issues of civil rights, freedom of speech, and student rights.

 

WEBSITES

 

 
  • SamanthaSmith.info

    This site includes information about Samantha Smith, her famous letter to Andropov, her subsequent work as a goodwill ambassador, and the continuing work of the foundation devoted to her memory.

     

  • PBS Kids: Arthur: Letter Writer Helper

    Students can find tips from Arthur on letter and e-mail writing, which can serve as a resource for independent letter writing.

     

  • American Civil Liberties Union: Stand Up!

    The American Civil Liberties Union provides resources for youth on topics such as censorship and discrimination. The site features news, podcasts, issues, and rants-written opinions from youth around the country on a number of issues.

     

  • Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

    View the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting site for resources that help identify and respond to inaccurate or unfair news coverage.

RELATED RESOURCES

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Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

A Genre Study of Letters With The Jolly Postman

Students read The Jolly Postman, in which a postman delivers letters to storybook characters. They explore different types of mail and categorize letters from the book and their own mail.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Sí, Se Puede: Making a Difference, One Letter at a Time

After reading the book ¡Si, Se Puede!/Yes, We Can!: Janitor Strike in L.A., students learn about labor unions, strikes, and organizing for change. Students interview staff members in their school to learn about their daily work life, and write persuasive advocacy letters.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Persuading the Principal: Writing Persuasive Letters About School Issues

Students learn that you don’t have to raise your voice to raise a point. Writing a persuasive letter to your principal is a great way to get your opinions heard.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

The Correspondence Project: A Lesson of Letters

After exploring business and friendly letter formats, students write letters for various audiences and real-world purposes.

 

Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Teaching Audience Through Interactive Writing

Through interactive writing, students work together and then independently to create invitation letters for a group of their peers and their families.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing

Through a classroom game and resource handouts, students learn about the techniques used in persuasive oral arguments and apply them to independent persuasive writing activities.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: A Character’s Letter to the Editor

Students write a persuasive letter to the editor of a newspaper from a selected fictional character’s perspective, focusing on a specific issue or situation explored in the novel.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Communicating on Local Issues: Exploring Audience in Persuasive Letter Writing

Students will research a local issue, and then write letters to two different audiences, asking readers to take a related action or adopt a specific position on the issue.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Who’s Got Mail? Using Literature to Promote Authentic Letter Writing

Students discuss and chart letter elements and write their own letters to adults at school, reinforcing letter-writing skills beyond the classroom lesson.

 

Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

What’s the Difference? Beginning Writers Compare E-mail with Letter Writing

Students compare e-mails to traditional letters, identifying style and intended audience for each. They then write both an e-mail and a letter about the same topic.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Persuading an Audience: Writing Effective Letters to the Editor

Students use persuasive writing and an understanding of the characteristics of letters to the editor to compose effective letters to the editor on topics of interest to them.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Dear Librarian: Writing a Persuasive Letter

Students write persuasive letters to their librarian requesting that specific texts be added to the school library. As they work, students plan their arguments and outline their reasons and examples.