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Lesson Plan

Who's Got Mail? Using Literature to Promote Authentic Letter Writing

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Who's Got Mail? Using Literature to Promote Authentic Letter Writing

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



This activity uses literature and shared writing to teach letter-writing format and promote authentic letter writing. Students listen to and talk about stories dealing with correspondence before participating in a collaborative, whole-group letter-writing activity. They go on to write their own letters to deliver or mail to adult school helpers, family, or friends. Students often go on to write letters on their own time, which may generate ongoing correspondence.

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Letter Generator: This online tool allows students to read about the parts of a letter. They can then write and print their own friendly or business letter.

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Rebecca Powell and Nancy Davidson draw the distinction between school-based and situated literacy, noting that the former "distances students from the literacy event, treating written language as an object for analysis rather than a medium for genuine communication" while the latter "is embedded in real-world events." (249).

Offering young learners opportunities to communicate for genuine purposes to real audiences engages them and makes their literacy learning real and relevant. Powell and Davidson assert that "[t]apping into students' ‘funds of knowledge' is inherently motivating, and hence children are more engaged in learning when they perceive an authentic purpose for their efforts" (254). Learning about the purposes and conventions of letter writing, then, is made more meaningful and relevant when done in a manner that bridges school-based literacy learning with the personal communication needs and interests of the learners, as outlined in this lesson.

Further Reading

Powell, Rebecca, and Nancy Davidson. "The Donut House: Real World Literacy in an Urban Kindergarten Classroom." Language Arts 82: 4. (March 2005): 248-256.

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