Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Writing Across the Divide

Shortly before Spring Break, the second grade team reached out to the middle school teachers in search of pen pals. How could I not respond? Seventh and eight grade language arts classes paired with Mrs. Edwards and Mr. Engroff, and I partnered with Mrs. Feldner. We planned a series of three transactions as well as a culminating celebration in which the pen pals could meet one another. I didn’t have to sell the opportunity to my students. Even though there would be no grade or extra credit, I had over 30 volunteers who were interested in writing for the sheer enjoyment of it. Due to Mrs. Feldner having 17 students, it was necessary to randomly choose the pals.

About a week before break, my students received their first letters. Meticulously written in cursive, some of my writers were a little intimidated. One boy even asked if he would have to respond in cursive. There was more than a hint of fear in his voice. After outlining the expectations of the project, the sixth grade volunteers drafted a response, reviewed it with a peer, and submitted it to me for final approval. Letters were dropped in the mail the week before break – I’m sure the second graders were anxious to hear back. My students can’t wait for the next correspondence to arrive in the mail!

I am thrilled with the chance to work across the divisions. It brings students closer together and creates meaningful connections between colleagues. From an English teacher’s standpoint, it provides an opportunity for students to write for a real and relevant audience. I observed students working thoughtfully and carefully. It is my hope that Mrs. Feldner and I have started a tradition – one that will last for many years to come.

photo credit: 臺中市頭家國民小學 Tuojia Elementary Scho via photopin cc

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