Sunday, May 2, 2010

Writing with a Purpose - Persuasive Writing

Researchers who study "real" writing affirm that students given "real" purposes for reading and writing beyond classroom assignments, and for "real" audiences beyond a teacher, made significant progress in both reading and writing.(Meier,2010). We have had many experiences writing real letters during this Persuasive Writing Unit. Students wrote letters to their parents requesting a movie, toy, or sleepover. (Some wrote to their grandparents if they thought the request wouldn't be granted by their parents.) They wrote to their friends in the classroom and the principal. After reading the true story of, "The Librarian of Basra" by Jeanette Winter, students saw how sometimes even with good persuasive reasons, requests are not granted. The librarian asked the mayor of Basra, Iraq, if the books in the library could be stored in a safe place. She feared they would be burned in the war. But he said no, so the librarian hid the books herself. The children enjoyed that read aloud.
As chance might have it, this week we received a letter from a teacher in Ohio on behalf of one of her kindergarten students. Emma, the student, has been tasked with writing a report about Florida. She asked if our class could help them out. So, we did. Each child wrote a letter to Emma telling her what fun things there are to do in Florida and everything they know about our state. When students were given this real world request of writing a letter to a new friend, they could not wait to answer her letter. The letters were mailed to Ohio and we can't wait to hear back from our new friend.

Dear Emma,
How are you doing? My name is Dominic. It never snows. It is really hot in the summer. Sometimes it rains. It is warm a lot. The bees are huge, the wasps are huge. Sometimes it is cold. I am six years old. I go to Chets Creek Elementary. The Jacksonville Zoo has lots of animals and Florida has lots of animals.
Your friend

Joanne Meier, Ph.D. provides research guidance for Reading Rockets. Dr. Meier has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of early childhood and reading education.


Ms. Symons and Ms. Wickert said...

Wait a second....if they thought the parent wouldn't get them what they asked for, they wrote to their grandparents again. Lauren wrote to her grandparents!!!! Hehe, she knew not to ask me :)
Katie S.

Suzanne said...

I love that you offer kids real world connections that allow them to embrace tasks with excitement. And, the examples you provide in this post are what all kids need to thrive as writers. Thanks for sharing!

And, by the way, my son wrote to his grandparents last year! :)