When the Cyber Chickens attended their first Trinity Task Force meeting, Attorney Wallace introduced them to the "Letter Writing Strategy." He talked about a character in the movie Shawshank Redemption who worked in the prison library. He wanted new books for the library, so he wrote a letter to the state every week requesting money. Eventually they got tired of the letters, and they sent him $200. When he got the money, he started writing two letters a week.
Today the Cyber Chickens mapped out their "Letter Writing Strategy" for Project S.C.A.T. The goal: to expedite the cleanup of the contaminated site next to our school. Trinity Industries has already been ordered by the courts to clean the site, but they seem to be dragging their feet by trying to drag other parties into the lawsuit. It has been over a year since they were charged, but cleanup is not foreseeable in the near future.
We started with a brainstorming session. First, the students discussed who our audience should be. They came up with a pretty comprehensive list including the governor, The Department of Environmental Protection, State Representatives, USA Today, Oprah Winfrey, CNN, Time for Kids, and Newsweek (for a start.)
Next, they discussed what should be in the letter. (This is when the teacher in me kicked in.) While they talked, I took notes in Microsoft Word and projected it onto the SmartBoard. When they were done, they had an outline for their letters (and I had a rubric to grade them.)
To wrap up our brainstorming session, they planned out their strategy. In groups of two to four students, each group will focus on an audience for their letter. Letters will be mailed out every other day to each audience with a total of 26 letters being mailed out per week. Their plan (keep in mind) is for each student to write a letter each week until the end of the school year. I did contribute at this point by suggesting we add a Google calendar to our wiki, so that we can keep track of who is getting letters when.
Finally, it was time for lunch and I announced we would put their plan into action next week. In my mind, I had already written my English plans for next week.
On the way to lunch, a student said to me, "Can we start after lunch?"
Another said, "Would it be okay if we start writing the letter this weekend?"
I said, "Sure. I think that would be okay."