As we work through state testing this week, my team and I wanted to give our students something to look forward to each day and take a break from our traditional math and reading centers.
About a month back, we got a letter in the mail from a school in California participating in The Great Mail Race (which surprisingly has no official website of any kind to link to). We put it to the side at the time despite our interest, and now we’re delving in ourselves!
The basic gist is that we send letters and questionnaires out to an elementary school in each of the 50 states with the hopes of getting back a response, helping us learn more about the states and the children who live there.
In addition to writing the letters to the schools (which provides some great mini-lessons in how to address envelopes, review on writing letters, etc.), students are researching their assigned state, following the template of this Sticky Note State Research Report.
I really like the format of this because it helps them stay organized and guide their research, as well as feel more comfortable with a writing assignment that could become quite daunting to a fourth grader. By knowing what key information to search for and breaking it down into sticky-note sized chunks, it becomes much more manageable.
In addition to having the internet as a resource, students were given a fact card for their assigned state and also had tourism brochures, maps and vacation magazines available to them, all of which I obtained for free by going to each individual state’s tourism website and requesting them.
The students are ecstatic and super interested in their states, many going above and beyond their research requirements for the day. We will pick back up tomorrow and I’m very excited to see where we go from here! I’ll be updating all week long.