Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 12, 2012

Student Writing – Writing for a Reason: Free Stuff

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Writing for a Reason – Free Stuff

Back in the day, I taught my students how to write friendly letters and business letters. These days, email has, for the most part, replaced these time-honored forms of communication.

But when kids are asked to write to someone, even when they are simply learning “how” to write to someone, I always feel better when the letters or emails are actually sent.

My most recent forays into writing to real people came in the form of asking my students to write away for “free stuff.” I was amazed at the results and the kids were even more thrilled.

I began by asking each class to discuss amongst themselves the concept of writing away to someone, a big company or manufacturer or business related to any area of their interest, for something for nothing. One boy was a real golf fanatic so he thought he’d write to the manufacturer of his favorite ball, one of the girls was into a particular kind of make-up and another loved a brand of T-shirts. After some time for discussion, we listed the ideas for all to see. And by the second day of the project, when all of my classes had had time to brainstorm, we had a significant list of possibilities.

For those students who couldn’t think of a product, I suggested travel. Tourist bureaus and chambers of commerce all over the world will send information, and, as it turned out, small trinkets with advertising about their country or province or city, etc.

The students were quite excited. We studied the format of a request and the language necessary i.e. how to express one’s interest in a product or service or place and then how to ask politely to get something for nothing.

Back when I sent actual letters, the school paid for the postage. With email, it was all free. And the results were amazing. The golf fan got a free sleeve of his favourite golf balls, the t-shirt girl actually got a free t-shirt. One of the kids wrote to a major soft drink manufacturer and was showered with bling – pencils, stickers, posters.

Bottom line – making it real made it work. 

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