Friday, December 9, 2011

Literature About Letters

Every teacher knows how it is to have a student who either misunderstands, misses the point of, or in some other way just does not connect with an assignment. I have a particular student right now who has only turned in a draft of his Letter About Literature because his mother has been in daily contact with me for the last week.

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I do the LAL unit with my sixth grade classes every year. (And I write about it, too. Click here for my thoughts in 2009 and here for those in 2010) Sponsored by the Library of Congress, it is a writing contest that has the lofty goal of inspiring kids to compose letters to authors explaining what personal difference their books have made. After re-reading my own observations from years past, I am reminded that it is a challenging task for sixth graders, but I won't be discouraged, either, because despite the challenge, I still think it is a valuable exercise which brings together all the important components of a language arts curriculum-- reading, writing, and higher order thinking.

Well, that's the idea anyway. Back to my recalcitrant student. Here's what he turned in:

Dear John,

Listen and listen closely. I never wanted to read your book but it looks cool and it also was a long book. So be happy that I’m reading it. Now I got to write about you and your book, so be happy cause I’m doing what I didn’t want to so PAY ATTENTION!!

I’m happy you listened closely and understood me. Are you happy I read your book? At the beginning I thought your book was like dew on the grass, now I like it. When I say dew I mean like the yucky stuff on the morning grass. 

Okaaaayyyy... Teacher Quiz!

Test yourself: what is the best response to this piece of writing?

A) I like your honesty.
B) Your voice really comes through.
C) Interesting use of figurative language.
D) See me
E) All of the above

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