Yesterday was the first day back from Christmas break and nobody was in a great mood to be there.  I took a poll and the average time for most of them getting out of bed during the break was 10:00.  No wonder they weren’t with me yesterday.

So I dusted off an idea that somebody on Ben’s site threw out a while back: postcards.  I had my upper level classes draw me a picture of postcard that they “did” during the break and write me a letter on the back.  I played up the fact that I missed them so much and nobody wrote, so I was having them do so now.  This also gave me a chance to go through the conventions of how to say “Dear Herr Black” and “With friendly greetings” (the standard signoff).  Levels II/III/IV had to write a letter and draw a picture, while I went easy on Level I and just had them draw the picture. When we were done, I showed the pictures and we guessed who did what.

It was interesting to see the reactions.  I psyched out the Level Is by showing them examples from Level III, not only seeing the pictures but reading through the postcards.  At the last minute I told them they wouldn’t have to write and they were grateful.  Level II was a bit nervous about writing right out of the break, but I let people work in groups if they wanted and it was fine.  One of my Level IV students after class sent me an email, including a note to say thank you for giving them an easy day.   Interesting to see how the capacity grows over time not just in ability but attitude.

Today we’re getting back after it with some vocab, but I’m going to use their postcards as the foundation for embedded stories.  I’ll type up a few selected postcards, but then add in target words from our list such as “decided” and “somewhere” and “remembers” and use those to extend the postcard reports.


6 responses to “Postcards

  1. Oh Nathan, I’m so glad you wrote and that I decided to check this space today. I’ve been circling around ideas for a gentle way to start our week, and you’ve given it to me. Thank you!

    I especially like the fact that the kids can be playful with this if they want, and no one has to know whether it’s what they wished had happened or what really happened. I’m going back to a couple of groups who might have wished not to spend so much time at home, and with these postcards, they can hide or share, as they prefer.


  2. Great idea! I did “For Christmas, I wanted….” and they could imagine anything whether they received it or not and wrote it on small pieces of paper. I then collected the papers and off we went guessing who wanted a baby polar bear, a laptop, peace in the world, etc. I threw in “Did you receive…?” and “Would you want…?” in different levels. They got a bit chatty but we had fun overall.


    • Very nice Natalia. I think my German I classes would actually have gotten more mileage out of your activity, so maybe I’ll go with that next year. And if “a bit chatty” was the worst it got, you probably were way ahead of about everybody else. It’s amazing how much of their social lives are centered around school; I’m glad for a way to tap into that and ride the wave.


  3. Glad it was useful. I’ve been AWOL for awhile as I’m banging out the final stage of my dissertation writing and haven’t dared to read or write any blogs. I get so interested processing everything in the TPRS world that I brain rewires to those topics and I don’t get much writing done. So, I’m really hoping to be done by the end of January, but until then I’ll just be doing quick posts here and again.


  4. I would like to throw out there that the postcard idea is wonderful. You could get some more play out of it as they get ready for Valentines which is always a way big occasion at high school. Maybe L1 could design cards for the front and then the other classes could do sayings or writings on the back and exchange with the other classes. It doesn’t have to be PERSONAL, but everybody likes getting a card on Valentines Day.
    Mail for young people of any age is a big deal. It also gives a lot of play opportunity as well as writing. I loved the post on the 100 words a week.That is a great journaling tool.


  5. I’m just typing up the postcards, because I want them to be legible. My kids really got into it…while some truthfully reported what they did (one came in fourth in a wrestling competition, and others were in ski races or just stayed home and ate and slept a lot), others had fun and said they’d been to Switzerland or Cuba. One reported on his duck-hunting expedition, so there might have been a mix of true and false in that one.

    I like the Valentine’s Day card. I think that it would be fun to have everyone contribute one or two, and then let them draw for their cards, thereby getting a mix from the different classes.


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