RI Center for the Book

Letters About Literature 2015-16

Student Writing

PDF iconGuidelines for Teachers & Educators


Wondering why you should get involved?  Read the quote from a Moses Brown teacher below:

At Moses Brown, teachers in all three divisions have been endeavoring to use Project Based Learning as a means to help students gain skills and competencies by focusing on particular problems or challenges. As a fifth grade English teacher, I have been looking for an authentic writing challenge that will engage my students as such. I was, therefore, pleased when Laura Gladding, the Lower School Librarian, forwarded me notice of the Letters About Literature contest put on by the Library of Congress. I told my students about it and we had many interesting literature based conversations as we discussed possible texts about which to write to authors. One aspect of a successful writing challenge is to have an authentic audience. My students were truly engaged by the idea of writing a letter to an author that they could both send to the author and submit for judging in a contest. Good Project Based Learning derives from an essential question. Our driving question quickly became, “What kind of letters to authors will do well in the Letters About Literature contest?” My class and I were able to work as a group to come up with elements of a rubric that connected to what they thought judges would appreciate, and which they could use to revise their letters. Again, the excitement about the contest and about the prospect of doing well in the contest motivated students to apply all that they had learned about revision to their own writing independently. The icing on the cake was when several of my students were invited to attend the awards ceremony as honorable mentions and semi­finalists. The excitement built around this ceremony inspired an upper school teacher to engage her students in the Letters About Literature contest next year. I am looking forward to further applying entry in this contest to our Project Based Learning Model at Moses Brown each year. I think it is a perfect match.

Carolyn Garth

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