1st day letter for 8th grade

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by crayonfan, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. crayonfan

    crayonfan Companion

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    Jul 17, 2007

    Do you think having the students writing a letter to me on the 1st day would be grade appropriate? This is a very small school and I want to get to know the students and see a sample of their writing. I thought of having them write about themselves and and what they expect out of this year and how they would like to improve their writing. Does this sound like a good idea or not?

    I don't want them to stand up and tell me because this will be boring to everyone else because these 60 kids have been going to school with the same 60 kids since kindergarten.
     
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  3. bridge

    bridge Rookie

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    Jul 17, 2007

    I like the idea and have used it with 6th graders. I start out with a letter from me to them. I distribute mine, then I read it aloud to them. I include stuff about me as examples of what I'm looking for from them. I also try to include my hopes for the class that year, and ask them to tell me theirs.
    This is one of my favorite assignments because it gives me so much info. about each student: their favorites, sometimes a bit about their home life, their personalities, and also I find out about their their ability to write.
    I also like to pull their letters out toward the end of the year and reread them. Sometimes I have extra insights, and sometimes I can see real changes.
    I don't think 8th graders are too old for that. Come to think of it, I got the idea from my son's English teacher his freshman yr. of H.S.
     
  4. Googs

    Googs Rookie

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    Jul 17, 2007

    New Idea

    This year I am trying a letter that has blanks within the sentences that hopefully guide the students in their feedback. For example, "I am nervous about doing well in your class because ____." "On the other hand, since I am good at _____, then..." They will fill in the blanks on a separate sheet of paper and they can write as much as they want. I am presenting this as a "How may I help you?" type opening that many salespersons use with customers, which is what our students are.

    At the start of the fourth quarter, I have all students spend a period explaining to me why they are not doing better in my class, regardless of grade. I have gotten very honest essays to this question and, in many cases, gained a personal insight that they never would have shared with me otherwise. I am using the fill in the blank letter in an effort to learn about student strengths and weaknesses at the start of the year instead of later on.

    If you have any questions, let me know.
     
  5. mrs. dub

    mrs. dub Companion

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    Jul 17, 2007

    I actually have them write letters to themselves about how they're feeling about the upcoming school year, what their personal goals are, who their friends are, anything that's on their mind the first day. Then I pass them back on the last day of school and ask them how they've changed in 9 months, did they meet any goals, etc.

    Sometimes I'll also have them do a little survey about themselves (favorite movie, best friend) on the first day and attach it to the letter. They loved reading it at the end of the year!
     
  6. teacherSMK

    teacherSMK Habitué

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    Jul 18, 2007

    I am teaching 5th - 8th this year, and plan on having them write letters the first day, but in "cover letter" style. I want them to "convince me" that I want to hire them. I will, however, instruct them to include any "areas" they struggle with, so I can evaluate/adjust lesson plans accordingly. Being in a one-room situation requires a lot of flexibility, and I think this assignment will help.
    I'll also do a "mock" job interview in class, one-on-one. This way I can converse with them and get to know them a little bit better. I do these during lunch the first few days. It worked really well last year, and my students really open up when I have a "business" lunch meeting with them.
    ~SK
     
  7. Cyndi23

    Cyndi23 Companion

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    Jul 18, 2007

    If anyone has samples to show, I'd love to see them (of the survey also!) I love these kinds of things!
     
  8. DotyMath

    DotyMath Rookie

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    Jul 18, 2007

    I use a fill-in-the-blank kind of sheet the first day. There is SO much going on in the classroom the first day - kids are late, some are in the wrong classroom, etc. This sheet is given to every student and it gives them something to think about and respond to while everything is crazy.

    Some of the questions include: The best way to describe myself is ___ ; Elementary school was ___ ; Multiplication facts are ___ ; When I want attention from my teachers, I ___ ; I am most worried about ___;

    I have a sheet full of these questions, and it has really worked well with 7th and 8th graders the past three school years - in different schools.

    I am not sure how to post the entire sheet, but I will gladly email the document to anyone.

    I hope this helps! :)
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Jul 18, 2007

    If they might think it is boring to write the same stuff everyone knows about them, why not write about their summer?
     
  10. jejawoods

    jejawoods Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2007

    I'd love a copy!

    Not sure how the forum works - can you email it to me directly?

    thanks!:)

     

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