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Writing letters is a lost art. With the Facebook and twitter generations, people receive hand-written letters less and less frequently. As a result, when a person does receive a sincere hand-written letter, there is a great deal of appreciation for the time, thought, and effort involved.

This year, one of my classes completed a “Write it Forward” project. A few times during the year, students compose a hand-written letter to an important person in their life. Some of opportunities to complete this activity include: Grandparents Day (September), Thanksgiving (November), Christmas (December), Valentine’s Day (February), Mother’s Day (May), Teacher Appreciation Day, and Father’s Day (June).
As you will see in the handout below, I have no idea how successful the activity will be. It is healthy once in a while for a teacher to show some vulnerability. It is also an opportunity to show that it is okay to take try something new, even if you are unsure of the outcome.
With many lessons, teachers should often try to model an assignment. With this activity, I will be writing letters throughout the year to many of my family, friends, and colleagues. I have already written some several letters to staff at my school. Hopefully, I will have some positive responses to share with you in the future.
For the first letter, I choose to complete the activity during a class period, although it very easily could be assigned as a homework assignment.
Here are the guidelines I share with my students along with the original letter I received.
What you will need the day of writing:

  1. PEN
  2. IPOD / listening device (if they choose)
  3. Paper

The format of the letter the will be:
Top line – Date, weather, time started
The Letter – There are many different topics to write about in the letter.

  • Explanation of the Activity – Even though the enclosed sheet will give an explanation of letter, please explain it in your own words.
  • Appreciation – The first focus should be appreciation. Write specifically about what you admire and / or appreciate in the individual. You should include a specific example or anecdote / story whenever possible. This should be the most moving part of your letter.
  • What’s going on? – This can include the events that are going on in your life such as work, school applications, family events, etc. Essentially write about what is going on in your life.
  • Encouragement – Give a push for the person to continue to send a letter. Perhaps you could offer suggestions of people who might be excited to receive a letter.
  • The Closing – Finish up the letter with an appropriate closing. You can reiterate what you appreciate about the person, write about how glad you are to have them in your life, or choose another option.  List the TIME OF COMPLETION after your signature.

Write it Forward, might very well be “Write it Flop!” People may not continue the activity, but just like “Pay it Forward,” we may see some incredible results a few months down the road. Hopefully we will be pleased with the results.

* An English teacher at my school is the inspiration of this activity. So all the credit belongs to him.
The following is the handout each student is supposed to include with their letter.

Please fill out your information below and include this page with your letter!

Letter of Appreciation: Write it Forward

In our society, we do not acknowledge the important people and relationships in our lives enough. Days, weeks, months, years, and sometimes, even lives pass, without ever writing to the people who have positively impacted our lives. My class has set a goal to write letters to important people in our lives. I have selected you.
The goal of this project is to see if one letter can inspire others to “write it forward.” If you receive a letter, you are asked to take some time to write it a letter to a person you appreciate. If you are busy, just take 5 – 10 minutes to complete your letter (but if you have more time, please use it.) The only catch is you cannot send a letter to the person who sent you one. (A little like no taggsies back!) The requirements are:

  1. SNAIL mail or hand delivered. (No text messages, tweets, etc.)
  2. Hand-written if possible. If you would prefer a computer that is fine, however if you handwriting is legible, please use this method.
  3. PLEASE RESPOND that you have received a letter. My teacher’s email is (include your email). Our class is tracking the location and impact of our letters. If you could take a few moments to share your thoughts with my class that would be AWESOME!
  4. My teacher also mentioned a reward for the class if we receive enough responses, so if you can please spend a few minutes writing a letter to an important person in your life, we would greatly appreciate it.

Original letter sent by from NAME   Town, State on Date
Letter #2 by from (1st recipient) to (2nd recipient) on (date)
(If you would like a copy of this handout, email me at mark [at] mytowntutors [dot] com. I would be glad to share it with you. The document did not transfer too well to the blog format.)
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