Saturday, January 12, 2013

Letters (more thoughts from the Pen Pal post)

Yesterday I got a handwritten letter from back home from a a friend and it was so exciting. Even though I have been playing around with how to combine the old and new, handwriting and technology when it comes to letters. I have to say getting a letter in the mail will always be my favorite way to communicate. I follow The Clever Sheep's blog and when I was going through my reading list I came across this blog post "The Power of Handwriting" 

This echoed some of the thoughts I have had but maybe didn't fully express in my blog post about pen pals. I remember in college having to write letters to myself for various lessons and classes. Some of those letters were really hard to go back and read.  I was always able to see how much I had grown and some of them surprised me as to my thought process at the time of the letter. When I taught in the US, both in Idaho and Wyoming, we had older students write letters to younger students giving them advice. It was always an enjoyable activity and meant a lot to the younger  and older students both.

This also got me thinking it would be nice when a teacher is doing his/her student teaching or when he/she gets her first job if a mentor teacher wrote the student/new teacher a letter to encourage him or her about the profession that was chosen. It could actually be implemented in several professions.

In both International schools that I have taught and am teaching at I have had students write letters but they don't ever given them to the person, so I don't feel it is always taken seriously.  I did write in my Pen Pals post about how in Malaysia I tried to have my students becoming pen pals with students from the US, but due to miscommunication it didn't work out. For one of my summative assessments at my current school for my year 8 students I had them write a letter to Petra Anderson, the person a news article had been written about as a victim of the "Dark Knight Rises" shooting. We had read the article previously and had used it also for a previous summative assessment, so I thought it would be a nice tie in to then write a letter to her. I noticed that several of my students struggled with writing a letter even though we had practiced prior to that in class. Since I had not lived in Indonesia for very long when we wrote the letters I didn't know how to mail letters, for one, and second, I didn't know if there was a way to actually mail the letters to this Petra if we worked on improving them so they were better. Time got away from me and I didn't remember until just now that I had thought about doing that. Some of those letters were really encourage though, and I wish now that I had looked into it. Since we change students at semester I no longer have those students to go back and do it this semester.

I think there are ways even with all the technology today to take the time to hand write a letter and mail it to someone, it might brighten their day. Instead of always texting, picking up the phone and letting the person hear one's voice, and laugh. One may never know how much that means to that person and how much they love their friend or loved ones' laugh. Instead of always using Facebook messenger, having a friend over for a cup of tea and visiting. I think letters, e-mails, twitter, Facebook, cell phones, visiting/having someone over, sms, etc. all have their functions and places, we shouldn't exclude any of them but should use all of them to better connect us and enrich our lives by those connections to others.

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