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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

‘Power of the Pen’ links students with celebrities

‘Power of the Pen’ links students with celebrities

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I was just reading ASCD's SmartBrief and this srory caught my attention, "‘Power of the Pen’ links students with celebrities." It engages elementary students to write and the project itself was designed "as a supplement to regular classroom writing, pairing letters to people involved with topics the class is currently covering. When the class was learning about space, they wrote to astronauts Neil Armstrong and Jerry Linenger." Pretty cool eh? I especially liked this quote about it: “The purpose is for the students to see that no matter what, writing is a lifelong skill,” she said. “I want them to build more of a love for writing.” Anyone else doing something similar? If not, why don't you try it and use this forum to share what did and did not work.

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Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.
Facilitator

Thanks Elana!!

This is a hard concept for little guys to absorb. "What do I do with my writing?" In the lower grades writing instruction should be a mixture of skill, craft, and down-right fun!! Writing is power. Whether it makes you laugh, cry, get mad, or get thinkin', it's important for kids to know how their writing affects other people. I think the fun part about writing gets thrown to the gutter as kids progress into the higher grades. Sc-Fi, Ficiton, Comedy, etc... gets the stamp of "not for school." Not sure why. These type of writers are honing their skill and craft just the same as non-fiction and persuasive writers. And they possess the same power.
Writing a letter to the mayor has been beat to death. I like the celebrity idea as long as the celebrity repsonds in some way. Do you know if they write back? Last year I gave the option to my students to write a persuasive letter to the Principal trying to get him to not cut down a very old tree to make more parking spaces. Option is the key word here. If you force a kid to do this, it usually comes out blah. The year before some students wrote letters to the Principal about the amount of paper being wasted in the school. In both cases, the intended audience resonded in person or on paper. They (kids) learned that how and what is written has an impact on the audience from the response.
This is done very easily in class when an author shares a story and makes other students laugh. That's power. The same power as writing a letter to the Principal.
I think it's best to use letter or essay writing when you know there is a good chance that the intended audience will respond.

Thanks for the post,
gaetan

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