Below are some examples of the letters written by our first graders.
Dear Mrs. Harbour,
I want more lunchtime. I never get to finish my lunch. It's not fair. We only have a little bit of time. Can we have silent lunch because if I try to eat my food, then in a minute people start to talk to me. That's why I never get to finish my lunch.
Your hungry student,
P.S.-I want more lunch time!March 26, 09
Dear Mrs. B,
How are you feeling today? I hope great! Would you mind letting me and Anna have a sleepover some day? Please! Because I really like Anna. We spend the whole day together in school and I am not kidding. We spend every minute together. I promise I will behave. Thank you for listening.
Anna's friend, Kaylee
Dear Miss Correia,
How are you doing? I was thinking if we can have lunch in the class. This is important because it smells bad in the cafeteria. Another reason is if it smells, people will loose their appetite. For example, one day it smelled bad. I lost my appetite. This shows that we need to stay sometimes in the classroom. I promise to help.
This comes from Parker, a "teacher's kid!"
Dear Mrs. Phillips [Principal],
Can you please make the lunchroom quieter? I will give you $100 out of my mom's credit card. Probably not, but I'll try to, okay? And I will clean the toilet and you can make my mom teach monsters instead of kids...
Besides writing letters and mailing them, some students have been writing arguments for one cause over another, like the ones below. Using the persuasive mentor text, Should We Have Pets? by Sylvia Lollis and Joyce Hogan, the Mall-ards wrote their own class book, Which is better - beaches or pools? Make sure to check it out!
Beaches are better than pools because you can play in the sand. You can go in the water. You can bury yourself in the sand. You can lay in the sun. You can eat and drink at the beach. You can build a sand castle and you can find seashells. When you are done at the beach, if you are covered in sand, you can go to the beach's showers. Then you can dry off and go home very happy.
Originally this was a unit we were dreading because it was new. We hadn't written persuasively before and we couldn't find many good resources, but after we discovered A Quick Guide to Teaching Persuasive Writing we were able to use it as the backbone for 15 lessons that we wrote collaboratively using Google Docs for the first time. What we found is that first graders have no trouble finding their voice and stating their opinions. There is lots that they care about and are willing to write about. They have no trouble taking a stand! Now we can't wait to revisit this writing genre again next year!