Monday, March 22, 2010

Dear Friend, I love you, Do you love me?

Year 8 Pen Pals
Rachel and I decided to encourage our Year 8 students to write by creating cross island pen pals. I don’t know if we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into! Rachel had her class write the first week and she created postcards for them to write on. I did not have extra colored cardboard to create that as well, so I decided to make stationary for the students.
Rachel’s class was funny. It cracks me up how people write in English when their language is so limited. Sometimes they copy each other, other times they repeat what they do know. Phrases such as “Got bless you”, or “I love you my friend” are used quite frequently.
One of Rachel’s students decided that the person he was writing to was name Rache and gave him a last name. It was funny how he formed his letter.
The first day of our writing week, I had my kids plan where we did a web. The second day I showed the kids how to use the web to write their own letter, as I too had a pen pal and wrote my letter to Rachel. I described my looks, my likes and my family in my letter. One of the lines I wrote was “I am short but I am beautiful.” (When people in my village ask me my name I tell them teine ou’lelei-which is beautiful girl.)
On Tuesday the kids then formed their writing and it was funny to see the phrases they copied from me. There were quite a few short but beautiful boys in my class. I used this as a time to teach them that boys are handsome, not beautiful. When they finished their rough draft I gave them their letters and they basked in the glory of their new friends. They were so happy that they were told “I love you new friend” and being asked for their phone numbers.
On Wednesday I read my letter from Rachel to the class and used it to edit my letter to her. When the children all edited their letters I gave them stationary to write their letters on. They were so excited to start their own letters. I quickly had a stack of letters ready to go from my class. Two of the boys in my class that I have spent a lot of time with did not give me a letter and were being a little cheeky about it when I told them they needed to have it the next day. I was really disappointed in them
One of those boys usually waits for me on the road to walk me home, and today was no exception. He even waited for me while I talked to a few people. I think he likes to have the time to practice the little English he knows and make sure I stay safe. I reminded him that I am serious about him writing the letter, and he happily handed it to me on our walk home. He was proud of his work and you could tell. It was great.
On Thursday the other boy surprised me by not just handing me one letter, but two. Apparently in my confusion and wanting of him to write a letter, I handed him two pieces of stationary….so he wrote two letters. I was impressed.
I have 32 kids in my class, 2 I think are MIA in New Zealand and Australia. And I think only 2 others did not write their letters. Not a bad turn out for an assignment that was all in English.
The following day Rachel and I went through the letters giggling about how many children wrote that they love their new friends. I think this project is going to be a complete success!

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