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Friday Letters

A New Way To Connect With Students 

Friday letters are mine and my students FAVORITE part of the week. Whenever students start telling me a story and I can tell we might not have time for it, instead of telling them to tell me later and we don’t get to it, I tell them that I cannot WAIT to hear about it in their Friday letters!

You might be asking yourself, what IS a Friday Letter? Well, each week I have my students write a letter to me about their week. I always keep a generic list on the board of things that they can write about. This way, it is clear and consistent each week. However, I also often add different topics that I want them to write about. At the beginning of the year, it’s often “tell me about your family” or “tell me a story about you and your best friend.” But, by the end of the year, we talk about deeper things, like “tell me how you can make the world a better place” or “what are you hopes and dreams for second grade” or I base it off of what I have been told in my letters. You would be surprised at what students will put in writing that they will be too scared to say aloud. I often get “I am lonely and don’t have many friends” which provides me with the knowledge to watch out for that student, the ability to connect that student with similar students, and the ability for me to write advice for that student on ways he or she may be able to solve that problem.

 

I also allow students to ask me any questions they want (within reason). But they key to Friday Letters is to WRITE BACK or RESPOND in some way. You do not have to write back to every kid, every time, but students want to know they are being heard. It is as simple sometimes as making a comment to that student about what you have read in their letter. Or, you may choose to write back to 3-5 students a week, and rotate on who you write back to. Personally, my students know I will only write back if it is well written, legible and has all the parts of a letter. I also always type my letters back, to save time, and I only write back as long as the letter was. If it is a short letter, it is a short response. Longer letters get longer responses. Usually, I find myself writing about 15-20 letters back per week, which when I am typing takes me about 30-40 minutes. I try to keep track of who I have and have not written back to, so that I can write back to each kid at least once a month, if they want to be written back to.

It seems like a lot of time, but for my class it is SO worth it. It is a great way to get to know the kids, to see what kids like and don’t like about school, and to learn new things that you would never know about kids. Some kids always want to write about football and superheroes, while other kids just want to ask all of the questions in the world. Either way, it is so fun and funny to read what they have to say!

I just have my students write on notebook paper, they turn their letters in Friday, and I return them on Monday. We do not have a specific time to work on their letters, but they know they can do that as early finisher work or during workshop time. I staple my letter back to the top of their letter, and then they write a new letter the following week. If you would like a free letter writing template, please click here. Another option is to keep a notebook and have students write in one page, and glue or write your response on the next page. Personally, I do not want to have to take that many notebooks back and forth from school each week, but you have to do what works for you!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Letter-Writing-Template-Anchor-Chart-3614219

My students will sometimes plan all week for what they write in their letters by making a list of things that come to mind throughout the week, and then using that list to write a well thought out letter. This is a great way to get students excited about writing, building writing stamina and motivated to write for an audience. Other teachers in my building have also used this system for students to write to parents rather than teachers, and then the parents write back in a notebook all year long. I think this is great for goal setting and to keep parents connected with what is happening in a classroom. I could also see this working well with a fifth grade buddy classroom, or other peers. 

 

Snag this Friday Letter Anchor Chart for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

This idea was modified from some fantastic colleagues at my school who have students write to their parents every week! (Johanna Freund and Kristin Holmquist from Holmquist’s Homeroom, to name a few of the original masterminds.) It has been a fantastic way for me to connect with my students, and I hope you can take some of these tips and embed them into your own classroom community.

I hope that you found this blog post helpful for your classroom! Please feel free to leave feedback below, and follow my blog for more tips and tricks. There will be one new post every Monday throughout 2018! Enjoy :).

 

7 thoughts on “Friday Letters

  1. Robin Siano

    I love this idea. Do you have your Friday Letter starters for sale. I looked on TpT but did not find anything

  2. Mrs. Dain

    I have done a similar thing in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades over the years. Students have a designated journal for this purpose. Since I designate smaller groups by the color of their journals for things like this, I can assign 1 color a day. That way I have 4-6 students to read and respond to each day. They know their day of the week is always the same. I write as much as they write.

    • TheMountainTeacher

      Oh my goodness, I LOVE the idea of different colored notebooks for different days of the week. That certainly makes it more manageable. I also modify how much I write depending on what they write. I type my answers as well to make it faster, you could glue typed responses into notebooks too.

  3. Cassaundra Lantzy

    I was wondering if you have the template you used for your responses to students available anywhere?
    I love the idea, and I’m planning on using it, but I want my responses to be as easy to create as possible.
    Thank you,
    Cassie

    • TheMountainTeacher

      Currently, I do not have one. However, let me think about it more and I can try to create one. I usually type my responses so it’s faster and then copy and paste a lot so it is easy, but I also like to respond to what they’re actually saying, so making a template can be hard.

  4. Peyton

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