Postie Letters: enhancing Reading and Writing in the Daily Five Classroom
You often find out about a great book to read through a friend. In our Grade Two class, we have a daily routine called ‘Postie’. Letters are written and read recommending a good-fit book to a classmate. The Student of the Day becomes the Postie and gets to deliver the letters to others.
‘Postie’ started as my letter to a reader. I would write to a student who I thought needed a bit of help choosing a ‘good fit’ book for reading. Choosing books that I enjoyed myself, I wrote to tell the reader what it was about and why I thought they should read it.
Things changed when the students themselves started to write the letters. I had not asked them to do this, and it has never become a required task.In the photo, Chanel is carefully reading my letter to her, and following the structure as well as choosing the vocabulary for the letter. It’s something we do because we love writing, we love reading, and we want others to also.
To write a successful Postie letter, the writer has to explain why this book will suit the reader. To this end, children have been referring to the CAFE menu used in our Daily Five literacy system. Now we talk more about the strategies on the CAFE board, thinking about them and matching them to reader friends.
There are regular writers’ workshops with ‘Postie’ letter writers, where three or four students work with me to improve their letters. Together we have created a ‘Bump It Up’ chart. This chart displays the work of three writers, and annotates the desired features shown in their Postie letters.
The three samples chosen are from a range of writers, demonstrating ‘doing well’, ‘getting there’ and ‘starting off’. This enables students to aim at ‘bumping up’ their writing to the next level by referring to the visible examples.
The magic? It’s all about connecting the reading and writing. It’s about purpose and audience in writing, and enabling choice. It’s about becoming more knowledgeable about the reading process and using this knowledge to help a reader. And it’s a pretty nifty way to create a book review.
“You are not just bumping up the person who reads the book. You are bumping up your own writing.” Zoe
“The letter improves if you add more detail to your sentences.” Isabella
“When you do Postie, you are actually bumping up both your reading and their reading because you have to know what a good fit book is for them.” Madison
“You have to make your letter interesting.” Jema