High school students sitting at desks handwriting.

Develop Literacy Skills and Civic Competency: Plan the ‘Writing Letters for Change’ Activity

Our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society than we have seen.

– Yuri Kochiyama


“Do Something” performance tasks ask students to demonstrate their anti-bias awareness and civic competency by applying their literacy and social justice knowledge in an authentic real-world context.

Literacy development through writing encourages students to combine identity and action. Letters allow students to communicate directly with someone who can effect change. Developing formal writing skills is in itself a liberating act—the more confident students feel as writers, the more natural it will be for them to use writing to address injustice.

ACTIVITY: Writing Letters for Change

Students write informed letters to corporate or elected officials, outlining their views on a social issue and calling for specific action.

Estimated time: 1-2 weeks

Suggested Grade Level: 6-12

PURPOSE

Formal letter writing is an effective advocacy tool with the potential to create change while building student confidence. Writing for social change encourages writers to use their own voices and promotes literacy skills.

STEPS

Research constituent letters and letter writing campaigns such as those found at change.org, or write your own letter for change. Provide examples to students as mentor texts.

Instruct students to collect information from a variety of sources. The below questions can help guide their research:

  • Who does this issue affect?
  • What parties are involved?
  • What is currently being done?
  • What is your proposed course of action to bring change?
  • Who would oppose your action plan? Who would support your action plan? Why?

Students should evaluate their research to determine the best recipient for their letter. Who is in the position to make change? Who has the greatest impact on the issue?

Provide students with ample time to research, draft, revise, peer edit and publish their letter. Integrate the writing processes used in your classroom.

Ask students to read their letters out loud in class. Provide time for students to respond to each other’s work and provide peer feedback.

Have the students mail or email their letters.


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