Is letter writing an obsolete skill?

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by Shanoo, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Nov 16, 2007

    I'm stepping into a lts assignment next week. I'll be teaching french immersion language arts. I'm trying to design my units and originally I thought that I would do a unit on friendly and business letters.

    The more I thought about it, the more I realized that no one really writes letters anymore - not in the traditional sense, anyway. So, do I bother teaching them how to write letters or would it just end up being a waste of time and busy work considering that letter writing seems to be an obsolete skill?

    Thoughts?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 17, 2007

    In a world in which "no one really writes letters anymore", the letters that do get written tend to stand out.
     
  4. msb

    msb Rookie

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    Nov 17, 2007

    I think it's a good idea to do a lesson or a unit on letter writing--specifically, business letters. I will be doing a short unit on business letters. They will actual draft a business letter to a company they are interested in sending a complaint or compliment/suggestion. They will have to bring in their final draft of their letter with a stamp and envelope, and actually mail it to the company. There would be extra credit for those students who received a response from the company, and brought it back to me. My seventh graders were more excited about this project than my eighth graders, but I think that's usually the case with my seventh graders. Our textbook provides an example business letter format for the students. I know I will have to model the format for them.

    Yes, I agree with TeacherGroupie. This is a skill all students should learn. You cannot believe how many students do not know how to address an envelope! I was blown away by the amount of envelopes that were improperly addressed! I realized I had to teach this skill as well.

    If you don't like the whole "mailing" thing, I had students write a letter to the principal to persuade her to make some changes to the rules or school procedures. There are so many ways to incorporate letter writing; the possibilities are endless! :)

    One last thought, you can also have 8th graders write to 7th graders or vice versa. I teach both levels, but you can ask another grade level teacher to read your students letters as part of the publishing piece.

    Please keep the ideas going! :)

    Thanks!
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2007

    I bet they would see a purpose if you included a blurb about cover letters and how and why they're used.
     
  6. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Nov 18, 2007

    My World History kids write letters all the time - as merchants on the Silk Road, Romans on the march during the Punic War, English Soliders in the trenches during WWI ect...

    Granted they are informal letters, but they must be formatted correctly.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 19, 2007

    And I do write letters:

    I write notes to my kids' teachers all the time, on everything from bus/no bus to absent notes, to a million other topics.

    I have been known to write a letter of complaint or two (big shock, huh?)

    I write to some of my friends who live out of state. Not nearly as often as I should, but letters carry more importance than emails.

    I write thank you notes and desperately hope I'm teaching my kids to do so as well.

    I write letter of recommendation. (In fact, there's on in my briefcase I meant to get to this weekend.)

    Let's not forget those all important cover letters.
     
  8. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Nov 19, 2007

    Cover letters are still a business necessity, not only for getting jobs, but applying for grants, inquiring about services, etc. Also, thank you letters will (hopefully) never go out of style.
     
  9. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Nov 19, 2007

    Thanks, guys. I've decided to go ahead with the unit. I think I'm also going to incorporate how to format a letter and send it by email to make it more relevant to their everyday lives.
     
  10. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Nov 19, 2007

    I also wanted to add - my 8th grade English teacher had us write fan letters to our favorite authors. It was increbile as many of us recieved replies. I still have my letter from Ray Bradberry.
     
  11. IowaLA

    IowaLA Rookie

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    Nov 19, 2007

    I found this post incredibly timely as I just had an eye-opening experience with my 7th grade ELO (honors) kids. We went to a play and afterwards I had my students write the class of performers letters to tell them what they liked about the play. Wow--it was shocking to discover they did not know how to write letters. Talk about your teachable moments! Teach the unit. You will be surprised at what they don't know
     
  12. sccrplayer

    sccrplayer Rookie

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    Nov 30, 2007

    I think it's a good idea to teach letter-writing. I myself am a 9th grader, and I communicate with letters in French and English. I think it's a fun thing to do, and you never know when you may need to write a letter. ^^
     

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