Karen Filewych

Karen has over twenty-five years of educational experience as a teacher, school administrator, and language arts consultant. She enjoys sharing her love of literacy with teachers and students. She is now booking professional development for teachers for the 2024-2025 school year. She is fully booked for residencies!

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Words Change Worlds

"When teaching grade one I noticed how language — specifically learning to read and write — empowered students. This idea has captivated me since. Join me in my quest to change the world through words."
-Karen Filewych


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This week on the Words Change Worlds blog

A Letter of Thanks

June is nearing. As the school year begins to wind down, carve out time for some reflective writing opportunities for your students. I will share one idea each week over the next few. Challenge yourself to participate as well.

This week, ask students to choose someone who has had a positive impact on them in some way: a coach, teacher, family member, or friend. Take the time to freewrite–seven or eight minutes–a note of thanks to this individual. Provide these prompts that you and your students can move in and out of during the freewrite: “Thank you for…” “Did you know…?” “I am grateful that you…

After they have read their writing to themselves–on the same day or a subsequent day–give students an opportunity to revise and edit their work. Explain that they will have a choice of Thank You cards, stationary, and envelopes for their revised note of thanks. It is important to emphasize that they do not have to use their entire freewrite for their thank you message: they can choose the sentences they like best, adding to or changing those already written.

Model the revision and editing processes with your own writing. Even if you choose not to show students your writing, think aloud and explain some of the changes you have made. You might explain that you have chosen to exclude your first few sentences of your freewrite on your actual thank you note (an example of revision). You might also explain that you noticed a few spelling mistakes in your original freewrite and have corrected the spelling (an example of editing).

Remind students to present their best effort as effort communicates a message to the recipient too.

And even though students are completing this activity within your class, be sure to respect their privacy: some of the letters may be quite personal.

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