As overviewed yesterday, this week’s goal is to easily implement non-fiction in the classroom with resources from the website Letters of Note. One of the best things about Letters of Note is the simplicity of the website itself. Letters are presented in their original copy as well as typed for easier reading.
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The archive on the site is also incredibly straightforward. You can search by correspondence type, year of publication, topic categories, author and so on. For a teacher these choices are incredibly helpful. Say I’m teaching how satire and humor create distinctive voice. I click the “Humorous” link under “categories” and immediately I’m taken to a series of letters that range from Mark Twain to the Simpsons.
Finding letters that supplement your preexisting units of study is so easy you might even become slightly giddy. I know I did when I realized that Shaun Usher, the site curator, had posted a Fitzgerald letter that referred directly to The Great Gatsby.
One of the most charming is Mark Twain’s letter to a burglar who broke into his home. I’ve included some areas of focus for possible implementation.
Twain’s “To the Next Burglar”
Consider using this if you’ve taught some of Twain’s shorter pieces such as “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” or “How to Tell a Story.” If not wait until you’ve taught them Twain’s style of humor via The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. You’ll want to have them examine the drawings as well in the letter since they add whimsy. Pull up on your SmartBoard or have them examine on computers, tablets or SmartPhones.
Possible Areas of Focus
- Read and SOAPSTone the letter.
- Identify 3 elements of humor that Twain employs. Discuss their impact.
- Examine the images Twain includes in the margins. How does this add to the humor of the piece?
- Examine Twain’s sentence structure and language. What tone does he produce as a direct result?
- Clearly, there is a limited chance that a burglar, any burglar would actually read this, let alone follow its “instructions.” In that case, what is the purpose.
Below I’ve included a list of letters that would work fit perfectly into novel-to-time period studies. While it would be quite simple to have students simply SOAPSTone these letters, you can choose to implement them as texts to respond to in student journals or as a means to understanding style. These are of course just a few of the letters that would work in any classroom.
Abigail Adams, “Remember the ladies”
Ben Franklin, “You are now my enemy”
Abraham Lincoln, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong”
Frederick Douglass, “I am your fellow man, but not your slave”
Jourdan Anderson, “To my old master”
Sullivan Ballou, “I shall always be near you”
Mark Twain to Walt Whitman, “What great births you have witnessed”
Jack Kerouac to Marlon Brando, “Common on now Marlon put your dukes up”
Issac Assmiov, “ A library is many things”
Ernest Hemingway, “For your future information”
Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse Five”
Harper Lee, “Advice from Harper Lee”
Thomas Pynchon, “In defense of Ian McEwan and Atonement”
Charles Dickens, “Happy Birthday, Dickens”
John Keats to Fanny Brawne, “If I cannot live with you, I will live alone”
Sigfried Sasson, “Finished with war”
Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman, “ I greet you at the beginning”