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Draft Letters: Improving Student Writing through Critical Thinking
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Minilesson|
|Estimated Time||50 minutes|
Draft letters are a simple strategy that asks students to think critically about their writing on a specific assignment before submitting their work to a reader. Students write reflective letters to the teacher, identifying their own thoughts on the piece that the teacher is about to read. This lesson explains the strategy and provides models for the project, which can be adapted for any grade level and any writing project. It may be completed only for major assignments or on a more regular basis with all composition that students do.
Letter Generator: This online tool allows students to read about the parts of a letter. They can then write and print their own friendly or business letter.
Draft letters ask students to reflect on a single piece of writing that they have completed, thinking more deeply about their writing and how they work as writers. This process of deep reflection helps students improve as writers. Dawn Swartzendruber-Putnam explains:
"Reflection is a form of metacognition-thinking about thinking. It means looking back with new eyes in order to discover-in this case, looking back on writing. As Pianko states, ‘The ability to reflect on what is begin written seems to be the essence of the difference between able and not so able writers from their initial writing experience onward' (qtd. in Yancey 4)" (88).
Beyond the importance of critical thinking, active learning allows students to take ownership of their work while increasing their engagement with the activities at hand. Activities such as draft letters encourage students, rather than teachers, to "direct . . . every action and decision about their writing" (88).
Swartzendruber-Putnam, Dawn. "Written Reflection: Creating Better Thinkers, Better Writers." English Journal 90.1 (September 2000): 88-93.