Pirate Mail

Educator Name: Jessica Jennings
School Name: Ezra Eby Elementary

Pirate Mail is a program designed to enhance a writing culture in our elementary building and community. Its purpose is to create a sense of unity among the students, staff, and parents. Each classroom along with the Media Center, Cafeteria, and Administration Offices would host a mailbox outside of their door. This would allow students, teachers, principals, parents, and communtiy members to write and send letters to anyone in the building. The hopes of this program would be to encourage writing and increase student interest in writing. Each mailbox would be assigned an address thus each letter would have to be addressed and this would allow practice of an everyday life skill. This mail system would also enhance our leadership program for fifth graders by giving them the responsibility of delivering the mail in a timely manner. The idea of creating street names for hallways and designing stamps each year would also create unity and allow for creativity among the student body. The exchange of letters between upper and lower elementary students and teachers would unite our student population and create lasting bonds.

Getting students excited about writing is often times a challenge. By giving them the freedom to communicate with students in other classrooms and teachers they will be more motivated to use their writing skills on a regular basis. Through classroom instruction teachers will be able to model proper writing techniques and when a child receives a letter from a teacher they will be able to witness correct grammar and punctuation use.

Students need many opportunities to practice their writing skills and so many times the writing assignment is specific and formal thus a child may feel confined in their writing. Letter writing allows students to use formal techniques yet use a more personal style. With the option of writing to a variety of people they will practice their skills more frequently. Receiving and reading letters will also promote literacy as well. Students will benefit from teacher modeling and peer editing through sending and receiving letters. Students will be more motivated to write.

Students need to feel pride and a sense of belonging at school. By building rapport with the staff and other students through the exhchange of letters this can be accomplished. In our building we have "Buddy Classrooms" which are assigned by the administration with the intent of building relationships and promoting academic growth along with boosting self-esteem. These groups meet monthly and through the exchange of letters the students can encourage one another throughout the entire school year.

This program is designed to be ongoing and a strong component of our writing curriculum. By adding this program to our school we can build on it each year and find more innovative ways to utilize it in the future.