Teach Students To Use Letters To Make A Difference



One of the most effective ways to empower students and help them learn the value of words is teaching them to write letters. Most kids are filled with passion and excitement. What they lack is patience and appropriate communications skills. I like to start this lesson by telling them about the time my 80 year old mother wrote her first complaint letter. The clerk at the grocery store had been mean to her and she was upset. I helped her find the right name and address, write the letter and mailed it for her. Two weeks later, the district manager came to my mother's door, apologized and gave her a gift certificate for $100 worth of free food. The point of the story is that writing a letter is a powerful and appropriate way to solve conflicts. Students can learn to write letters to teachers or

administrators. They can write letters to parents, friends, bosses. Once they learn the basic format of a good letter and receive encouragement to use letters to solve problems, the stories begin appearing in class. One student got a raise from a boss. Another was able to get a grade raised based on the facts presented in the letter. A student received free golf equipment based on a positive testimonial mailed in. Several students got letters to the editor of the local newspaper published. It takes a few months, but over time, students learn the value of letters through the

experiences shared in class. Very few lessons are as powerful as that by which students can be heard. Any teacher in any class can teach letter-writing and use it to empower students.


Steve Simpson is the editor of Ed.Net Briefs (http://www.edbriefs.com), a weekly online education newsletter with more than 60,000 readers. He earned his Ph.D. in communications at the University of Washington. He can be reached by e-mail at .


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