But, let's be realistic. Who really has the time to write a proper newsletter each week? A newsletter about classroom happenings may seem like distant goal that will probably never happen with any regularity.
Here's a simple way to send a quality newsletter home each week while teaching writing skills at the same time. From experience, I can tell you that teachers, parents, and principals love this idea!
Each Friday, you and your students write a letter together, telling families about what happened in class this week and what's coming up in class. Everyone ends up writing the same letter and the content is directed by the teacher.
Here's a step-by-step guide for this quick and easy activity:
- First, pass out a piece of paper to each student. I like to give them paper with a cute border around the outside and lines in the middle. Variation: Write the letters in a notebook and ask parents to respond to each letter over the weekend. At the end of the year you'll have a diary of communication for the entire school year!
- Use an overhead projector or chalkboard so that the kids can see what you're writing as you do it.
- As you write, model to the kids how to write the date and greeting.
- Make sure to tell the students to address the letter to whoever they live with. Not everyone lives with a mom and a dad.
- Ask for input from the kids about what the class did this week. Say, "Raise your hand and tell me one big thing we learned this week." Try to steer the kids away from reporting only fun things. Parents want to hear about academic learning, not just the parties, games, and songs.
- After each item you get, model how you write it into the letter. Add a few exclamation points to show excitement.
- Once you've written enough of past events, you'll need to add a sentence or two about what the class is doing the next week. Usually, this information can only come from the teacher. This also gives you an opportunity to preview for the kids about next week's exciting activities!
- Along the way, model how to indent paragraphs, use proper punctuation, vary sentence length, etc. At the end, model how to sign off the letter properly.
- Early finishers can color in the border around the letter. You'll find that, after the first few weeks, the students will get quicker at this process and you won't need to set aside so much time for it.
- Tell the kids that there's no excuse for incorrect spelling in their letters because you've written everything for them to see.
- Make a copy of each letter and, at the end of the year, you'll have a complete record of each week's highlights!
- Perhaps as kids get used to this process, you will decide to allow them to write the letters independently.
- You may still want to supplement the weekly newsletters with your own monthly or bi-monthly newsletter. This teacher-produced letter can be lengthier, meatier, and of greater scope.