"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Dear Dragon Pen Pals: A Year of Writing and Growing

Last September,  I read DEAR DRAGON, written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo with my second graders. Not only is it a great read aloud, the book inspired a Pen Pal project that lasted throughout the year. 

Part the first: Initiating a Conversation
It was the first read aloud of the school year and, as pen pals do during their correspondence, the students shared something about a hobby, a tradition, an experience, or any aspect of their summer. 

Part the second: Finding a Recipient for the Letters
The letters were sent off to a classroom of second graders in Minnesota at my friend Laura Given's school. We've connected students at our schools multiple times, so I knew this would not be a problem.This time we needed buy in from the two classroom teachers who would take over the project. Success!

Part the third: Sending and receiving Letters
The students had a new friend with which to share learning experiences, new knowledge and interests.The classroom teachers guided the project and letters went back and forth between the students all year long.The students' letter writing improved and their relationships grew stronger.

Part the fourth: Closing out the Year with a Visit
Almost like the Pen Pals in Dear George, our Pen Pals finally met (virtually) at the end of the school year. Our plan was to connect via Skype and have Josh Funk join us. Well, things did not go according to plan, they went better! About fifteen minutes before the planned visit, who shows up at the door of the library, but Josh himself! What an incredibly fun surprise! #benefitsofbeinglocal

We had such a fun visit with Josh and our Minnesota Pen Pals. 

Part the fifth: Maybe all good things don't have to end. 
A few of the students wanted to continue writing over the summer. We contacted parents and with their permission shared contact information.  #coolbeans

Also, there's always next year! Laura and I plan to enlist the third grade teachers to join the Pen Pal project. After all, they are receiving some seasoned writers in their classrooms. 

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