Over the years HEART students have written hundreds of letters to everyone from the president of the United States to the heads of large corporations. Whether asking for better laws to protect the environment, or for companies to stop using sweatshops, letters have always been a premiere form of advocacy that can be done for the cost of a piece of paper, pencil and a stamp. Or these days, even a simple email.
Letter writing campaigns in the classroom are a fantastic activity, and one that HEART educators use frequently, for a multitude of reasons.
1. A student must have a firm understanding of an issue and be able to express their feelings about it. By writing down what they have learned and trying to convince the addressee why the issue is important, they practice how to politely express their beliefs.
2. While (so far) President Obama hasn’t personally responded to any of the letters sent by our students, the higher-ups in major companies like Wal-Mart and Hershey’s have taken the time to write back thanking students for their input and applauding them for being engaged citizens. Through letter writing, students learn that they have a voice that can be used to make the world better for others.
3. Teachers often use letter writing exercises in the classroom to practice and improve a student’s writing. This particular form of letter writing allows students to practice how to write letters and how to make a persuasive argument. Both vital skills that will help them through school and beyond.
We have found that even students who haven’t yet developed a love of writing hunker down to lay out the best argument they can.
As an added bonus, when students are finished, you can ask them to read their letters out loud to the rest of the class.
If you want the letters to get extra attention, getting the kids to create a drawing to send alongside their written note always makes a big splash.
Photo Credit: Flickr/SPangborn