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Literary Letters
Old 03-31-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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I just have to ask opinions from my PT friends. I started a new procedure with my class. I feel they are ready for this since they are almost 5th graders.

We have done a lot with the Strategies that Work by Stephanie Harvey and Ann Goudvais. This is like my BIBLE of teaching comprehension.

Anywhoo, I used to assign a reading log every Monday and have it be due the following Monday. Kids were not taking it seriously enough all year long. Most weeks I am lucky to have 12 kids out of 28 turn it in at all. Parents are supposed to sign off on it each week adn that barely happens. I was constantly giving the lecture on how important reading is and they should all be reading at least 30 min a night.

So, what I have done is devised a Literary Letter assignment, which the children must write to me every week. I will give them a rubric on Monday and I expect a letter the following Monday. There are some criteria of course. Each letter must be at least 2 paragraphs long, include Main Idea, Connections, Questions, Thoughts and Feelings and Predictions. It also needs to be written in proper letter format. There is a very explicit rubric that they will get each week with what is expected on the assignment to get an A, B, C and NI. I also gave them a sample letter which I wrote myself.

I am asking if anyone else does anything like this? Is this too much for late 4th graders to handle? I am just waiting for the phone calls and emails to come pouring in.


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Sounds great!
Old 03-31-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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I teach fifth grade, and I wish the fourth grade teachers at my school would do this. Here is a basic checklist that I've used in the beginning of the year with fifth grade.

Reading Response Evaluation


Summary:
Gave background information about the setting
Gave background information about the main characters
Told the central problem
Provided details about the main events of the book in the order they happened


Connections- Wrote about one or more of the following topics and gave examples from the book:
Mood
Connections to self
Connections to other books
Connections to the world
Authorís message
Questions
Favorite part of the book
Favorite character/Least favorite character
Predictions
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OH, yes...
Old 03-31-2008, 03:55 PM
 
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I think it is so valuable!! It is time comsuming (I write back to each letter), but the growth from the beginning of the year until the end is unbelieveable!! I've been doing this for 3 or 4 years now.

Here are my requirements for each letter:
-Friendly letter form (includes the date, greeting, etc.)
-Must tell the author and title of book
-Must tell two events that have happened in the book since the last letter
-Must give a reflection about the book (these include connections, predictions, questions they have, etc.)

It really helps my kids to share good letters each week (with author's permission, of course) so that they can see what is expected. I usually white out the name, but they usually are so proud to share that they tell who wrote the letter.

I truly believe that my kids really understand what they read so much better when they talk and WRITE about the book. They also make much better book choices when they know they have to write about what's happening! Strategies that Work is one of my very favorites, too!
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Can you help me understand?
Old 04-01-2008, 04:32 AM
 
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This sounds great!



. . . I'm just wondering why you think it's better than the reading log.



What do you think that this is about?

Thanks for the help!!!



pg

*I have been reading up too and read that having students write letters was most effective. Good for you and good luck!
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Tatum's Letters
Old 04-01-2008, 04:50 AM
 
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This sounds clear and concise to me. I teach 3rd grade and I think it sounds perfect for your 4th graders. I have been moving in this direction also-away from the nightly-record-of-what-you-have-read and more toward the so-what-do-you-think-about-what-you-have-read approach. I like the idea of being very specific as to expectations through models, rubrics, and grades. Since my students are younger, I might adapt the expectations but the framework sounds great and I am going to give it a try, too. Good luck-to both of us! PS - If you are worried about it being too much, have them do it in school a couple of times before sending them home to do it on their own.


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Old 04-01-2008, 11:39 AM
 
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To answer one question: I think it is better than a log because the log can be fudged if the kid did not read, doesn't reflect any thinking about the reading and basically does not hold the child accountable for reading. The kids can practice letter writing and reflecting upon his or her reading. A lot of times the parents fill out the whole log sheet. Yikes. I have recieved positive feedback from the parents so far.

Tangolily--thanks for the idea of having them practice a letter in class...I will do that!

Thanks everyone and keep the comments rolling! I love hearing about this stuff!
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Only at school...
Old 04-01-2008, 02:19 PM
 
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My kids never, ever take their Reading Journals home! Well, until the end of the year, that is. Parents are ALWAYS impressed with the amount of reading their child has done in school. It's very apparent once they read the letters! It's a great keepsake for them, too!

I make a big deal about it with my kids. "When you are old and gray, you're going to show people this! You should be so proud of all the reading and writing you did in 4th grade!"
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i've done this
Old 04-01-2008, 03:09 PM
 
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I've done something very similar to this for the past two years with my 4th graders. I don't always take a grade from it, but I think it is very beneficial for monitoring comprehension and clarifying thinking. I allow my students to discuss their reading choices in general in their letters, too. We often end up writing back and forth about their choices of genres, authors, styles, etc. Although it is very time consuming to write back to each one, I think it is time well spent.
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Old 08-03-2009, 06:39 PM
 
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Is there anyway you could email me a copy of this explicit rubric and your sample letter you wrote yourself. This upcoming school year will be my second year of teaching and I am constantly looking for new ideas from various sources!!

THANKS!!

rebekahcollins@tomballisd.net
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