The end of the school year can be both exciting and a little frightening for many students. While they may be excited about time to play in the sun all summer, they may also be a little worried about moving on to a new teacher next year. One way to alleviate some of those fears is to let them write letters to next year’s teacher. This can also give the new teacher a heads up about the student and a way to assess their writing and communication skills. Consider these ideas for writing letters to next year’s teacher.
Identify the Primary Purpose
Before assigning your students the task of writing a letter to next year’s teacher, get clear on what the real purpose of the letter is. You may want to discuss this with the receiving teacher so you can tailor the assignment to meet her needs too. While some teachers will want a look at what the student is capable of academically, others may be more interested in getting to know the student. The assignment should reflect those desires.
This letter-writing activity lets the receiving teacher get a feel for the interests of individual students and of the class as a whole. Task students to write about their favorite activities in your class, to discuss their favorite subjects or about their outside interests and hobbies. Keeping the focus on student interests gives the receiving teacher an idea of how to keep students motivated and interested in lessons.
Assessing Academic Skills
Consider the subject matter taught in the next grade and focus the letter-writing activity around skills that are important at that level. If the next grade steps up emphasis on writing, make that a major component of the activity by following the writing process and including the student’s first draft and revisions to the letter. Likewise, if the next grade emphasizes new science skills, focus on more science related topics, such as what the student liked or didn’t like about participating in the school science fair.
If the receiving teacher is more interested in getting to know the students, try a more personal approach in your letter-writing activities. This is a great opportunity for children to write about their families, pets and special interests.
If you sense a lot of apprehension from your students, now may be the time to try to put their fears to rest. Encourage students to write about what they look forward to in the next grade, as well as things they may be worried about. The receiving teacher might be surprised to discover the introduction of fractions is inducing fear in students before they ever reach her grade. This allows the receiving teacher to put those fears to rest when the students enter her class next year.
Don’t be afraid to vary the focus of the letter-writing activity to meet the needs of your students and the expectations they will face next year. You may also want to incorporate the Scholastic Extra! Extra! Read All About Me Instant Personal Poster Set for the most reluctant readers.