Hi friends! I am excited to tell you all about our writing friendly letters unit. I've talked before about how I believe that teaching academics is important at any age, regardless of ability level. However, I also strongly believe that what we teach should be functional and that our students should be able to use it in everyday life. Writing is an important skill for our students to have. Most of them won't be writing essays, and that's not necessarily a functional skill for most, but our students with disabilities can definitely learn to write a friendly letter or an email.
Books to Read During Your Friendly Letter Writing Unit
I started this unit off with a few great books to get my students interested. It's so important to use mentor texts during writing instruction to help model what the skill looks like. Here are a few of my favorites.
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Use Effective Teaching Strategies When Teaching Friendly Letter Writing
When I teach a new skill, I always follow the effective teaching cycle, or the gradual release model: I do, we do, you do. I begin by modeling the skill- I write my students a letter and they read it. When I do this, I model my thinking aloud and I label the parts of the letter- heading, greeting, body, closing, signature.
After demonstrating this several times, I fade my prompts and visuals and we begin to write the letter together. It's important to remember to fade your prompts and visuals slowly, depending on the level of your students, to ensure that students are successful and thoroughly understand the skill. Also, remember that the ultimate goal is independence. If you are using a visual aide, begin to fade the visual to assist the student in becoming more independent.
Use Visual Supports for Friendly Letter Writing
I use these templates to help my students understand the 5 parts that are included in a letter, the heading, the greeting, the body, the closure, and the signature. I laminated them and cut out the labels so that we can label the parts of our letter when we write it on a separate piece of paper.
Next, I also use the blank color-coded version of this template to write my letter. I allow my students to go through the process of writing the letter by picking the greeting, questions, etc. that they would like to use. They use these friendly letter sentence starters so they do not have to generate their own sentences yet. This is similar to my previous post about using errorless teaching for writing instruction.
I slowly fade this out. First, students generate their own greeting, but choose from the available options for the remainder of their letter, and so on. Finally, when students get to a more independent level in their letter writing, we will start working on writing emails. This is great because they can get a much faster response from someone!
Teaching friendly letter writing has been such a fun unit and my students are able to see the immediate use of the skill in real life.
Check out my Writing Pinterest board for more fun ideas about incorporating letter writing into your classroom. And grab these friendly letter templates in the free resource library [Language Arts Resources].