Pen pal project spurs writing excitment

David Broyles

June 10, 2014

DOBSON — Kindergarten teachers at Rockford and White Plains elementary schools took advantage of existing connections between the schools and used a little old fashioned pen pal action to get students more interested in writing.

The activity ended Monday with around 120 students meeting at Rockford.

According to organizers, the hand written letters were taken from White Plains to Rockford by student Jake Simmons. The teachers said they were looking to get their young authors to be more independent about writing by giving communication an interpersonal dimension. They said a weekly exchange of letters has been going on since March and they have seen improvement in student writing across the board.

Students agreed writing letters was something they looked forward to doing. Many of the teachers commented on students being surprised once they met in person about how they already knew each other through church or clubs they belong too. The teachers agreed the pen pal project was something they would do again next year as well. They said it was later in the process pictures of students were sent along with the letters.

The project encouraged participants to ask questions as well as supply answers which naturally required them to organize their thoughts before putting pen to paper and improving their communication skills. Students exited the school bus Monday afternoon holding signs they had decorated with their names.

Activities included jumping rope, sidewalk chalk art, bubble blowing and also included a snack with fruit juice. Kindergarten teachers involved in the pen pal project were Krisit Freeman, Michelle Porterfield, Jennifer Simmons, Robin Angel, Trina Goettel and Rhonda Riggs. White Plains teaching assistant Susan Ayers said she loved watching the young letter writers ask about names, hair color and other personal information.

“You see the excitement in their eyes. They have been so anxious to meet their pen pals in person,” said Ayers. “They had no idea about what their pen pal looked like until the end but along the way they found out so much about each other you could tell who was partnered with who.”

Teacher Trina Goettel said writing a pen pal was the most exciting topic for her students. She said manners and conversations skills were also taught to help with the get together to end the activity. Goettel said she had seen students learn organizational skills as they prepared to write their weekly letter.

Rockford kindergartner Ragan Hall and White Plains’ Kenedi Blaire Rogers said they loved to share their love of chocolate cake (with vanilla icing), rainbows and unicorns. Both girls also shaired information about their brothers and sisters. Both girls said they loved to write.

“It makes you happy when you get the letter back,” said Rogers. “You get to make a new friend.

David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.