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Letters To The President

Page history last edited by Ms. Edwards 14 years, 4 months ago

Letters to the President




Grade Eight Students


The students' task: explore and explain issues of importance to you about which you think the next president should know and address.See our rules of etiquette.


The teacher's task: Fasciliate students in the exploration of and written communication to explain their ideas in a responsible way.  See our rules of etiquette.


Please discuss our ideas and return comments. Please notify us of any inappropriate content.




youTube videos my be blocked by your school.


See ASCD blog: http://ascd.typepad.com/blog/2008/11/letters-to-the-incoming-president.html


President Obama speaks about writing!




Our Letters

Please read them at:  http://www.letters2president.org/    Ms Edwards


Sample of other students' letters presented orally:



Links to Page Contents





Letters to the Next President: Writing Our Future is an online writing and publishing project that invites students ages 13-18 to write about the issues and concerns they want the next president to address and, with the support of their teachers, to publish their writing for a national audience using Google Docs.


Google Docs


What are:  Google Docs?


Click here for a brief presentation.


Why do schools use Google Docs?





Google Docs Information  How to collaboarate





September 12-October 30




Collaborate on your writing at school or at home.  When our writing is complete, your work will be placed on a website of which a link will be placed here.




As teenagers who cannot yet vote, you still have ideas about issues that concern you.  This provides you with a venue to express your most important concerns and solutions.





  1. Decide to participate and explain your reasons.
  2. Complete your team brainstorm page. T0 L2P Team Ideas
  3. Learn how to Google Search better: Google Search Lesson
  4. Sign and return permission forms.
  5. Form teams and set up your pages in the grade 8 folder. See General Directions.
  6. Read, share, discuss some history and news using the resources below and following the General Directions.
  7. Are you still reading and learning?  Get more facts!
  8. Set up Google Accounts.
  9. L2P Task 1
  10. Understand the Google Letter to the President Document format and purpose ( See Project Prompt and How This Works in the Table of Contents for this page).
  11. Google Docs Information  How to collaboarate

  12. Research your reasons and solutions from the topic resources section. You may also want to check out the process resource section if you need help with note-taking, searching, etc.
    1. Use your own paper or your My Project Notes page to document your research.
    2. Keep clear notes. Why? You will have correctly spelled ideas from known and validated sources to support your opinions so that your ideas are persuasive.
      1. Topic
      2. Source (title, link, etc.)  See Citation Information
        1. How do you know your source is a reliable expert?
        2. Are there other sources that support or refute this source?
        3. Are the facts accurate?
      3. Notes in your own words, checking spelling as you take notes
      4. Your interpretation of your notes and your opinion based on both facts and your experience (or those you have interviewd). See My Project Notes template.
      5. Write summaries and gist statements at the bottom of each of your page of notes.
      6. Discuss with your team what you have discovered; they may have additional sources and information.
  13. Choose a product to document your issues and concerns from the product section.
  14. Write your draft of the letter for publication (see final product section) with suggestions and comments from others.  Revise your draft with that feedback and complete a final letter to the future president.
  15. Reflections


Project Prompt


On November 4, 2008, voters in the U.S. will elect a new president, as well as 470 members of Congress. Whichever candidates are elected, they will face an array of pressing issues at home and abroad, all demanding attention and action. Where do we start? Voters can express their priorities in the voting booth—but young people also deserve to be heard. It’s your future too. What do you believe is the most urgent issue for the new President to tackle? What would you say to the candidates for the 470 seats open in Congress? What would you want the voting public to think about as they go to the polls? Your letter will be published for the candidates and the voting public to read. Can you convince them of the importance of the issue you care about? Can you move them to action on November 4…and after?


How this works:

To answer the prompt, a letter template has been designed specifically for the Letters to the Next President project by the National Writing Project (NWP) and Google. It provides you with what you need to compose and publish your pieces online. The template includes the writing prompt and guidelines for composing in the white spaces. Do not change the table or template, except for the information requested, which you will place in the white spaces. You may complete the sections in any order, and you may change or edit the information at any time up to the point where you submit your letter or essay. The information entered will be displayed on the Writing Our Future website to help readers find your essay and become interested in reading it.


To get started, I've created a wiki page for team brainstorming and planning. So choose a team, get a team number for your teacher, and go to this page: T0 L2P Team Ideas




Wiki Work

Google Docs


Writing Process

Six Traits of Good Writing

Main Ideas, Details, Facts, Opinions

Validity of Sources

Research and Note-taking

Using Notes

Summary and Gist Statements





Persuasive Essays

Introductions and Conclusions


Key Words




Topic Resources


Prompt Discussion


Click on page icon to listen.


Artistic Ideas

An open typewriter:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90880340





Click on Get the Scoop! at:    http://pbskids.org/newsflashfive/


Scholatic News



Hydrogen Car Toys

Hydrogen Cars--BMW

New York Times on BMW Hydrogen


Alternative Energy

Alternative Energies

Alternative Energy Institute, Inc

American Petroleum Institute

British Petroleum

CIA World Factbook

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Energy and World Energy Statistics

U.S. Geological Survey

U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


Climate       Global Warming 


Audio News: http://campaignaudio.prx.org/

which can be listened to on our pages at: Campaign Radio


Understand the Budget Widget


Our ideas and issues need facts to add to our understanding:  http://www.kqed.org/w/youdecide/


Look at the issues:  http://www.votebyissue.org/election2008/


Choose a Candidate based on the issues that concern you.


Map and News updates: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/vote2008/primaries/states/


Science Issues


Miscellaneous Science and Geography:   Interactive Expedition Museum


War and Peace:     Afghanistan  Aftghanistan Iraq   Iraq




Political Party History

McCain Life Map

Obama Life Map



Election Map

US Senators Map

US House Map

Political Party HQ

Primary Results

campaign donors


McCain Life Map

Obama Life Map


twitter election map




Lots of facts can be found here.





Check out the issues here.



Check the facts



For journalists, even beginners like us


Google News and Power Readers



Explore news sites read by McCain, Obama and political journalists.

See articles the campaigns and political pundits are sharing with Google Reader this election season. [1]


Research Links


The League of Women Voters

A nonpartisan political organization that provides information about campaign issues, voter registration support, and a citizen's guide to the electoral process. Its mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government and to increase understanding of major public policy issues.


OneVote 2008

Provides a teen-oriented guide to the election that includes profiles of the candidates, reports on campaign issues, and interactive features that allow students to express their opinions. OneVote 2008 is produced by ChannelOne.com , an award-winning youth news site.



Founded by a nonpartisan team of college students, VoteGopher aims to empower and inform young voters by presenting material about 25 pertinent election issues. For each of the issues, students can view the candidates' main arguments, watch video summaries, read posted blogs, participate in forums, and cast their own ballot.


Rock the Vote

Aims to motivate young voters and teens through its content and visual style. Rock the Vote uses music and popular culture to engage young people to register to vote and also provides tools to learn about issues that affect their lives.


Extreme Election 2008

USA Today provides aggregations of its daily coverage of the presidential election campaign as well as interactive tools that allow students to build election scenarios and study past election outcomes.



Contains links and lessons to help students participate and learn about American political elections with online tools from Google. Featured on the site is a link to a Google elections video search that allows you and your students to easily find YouTube political videos.


The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

CIRCLE conducts research on the civic involvement of Americans ages 15 to 21. The site provides a context for the political youth activism that Letters to the Next President student-authors are engaging in—students can find data about youth voting and demographics and gain insight into how young Americans are affecting today's politics.

Resources for Teens About Issues in the News

These websites provide pertinent information about current issues, news, and culture, written with a teen audience in mind. These nonpartisan sites also provide aggregations of news and editorials from various content partners.



FactCheckED aims to equip students with reliable sources and the skills they need to obtain trustworthy information on the Internet. Students will find links to credible informational sites under "Straight from the Source," "Lesson Plans" and "Tools of the Trade" to help guide their analysis of current events. The site provides a "Dictionary" to help decode political jargon.


NewsHour Extra

A comprehensive news source that provides national and international stories for young people. The site features videos as well as traditional text and graphics, and includes a section titled Student Voices—essays and editorials written by students.



The "Today's Newsletters" feature at OpinionSource allows students to explore diverse—and international—perspectives on the latest political news. The site provides summaries and links to some of the day's top editorials from renowned news sources in the US, the UK, China, the Middle East, and India.



A nonprofit blog that provides a forum for discussion and debate among young people on current politics and culture. Based at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, Pop+Politics is one of 150 blogs officially credentialed to cover the upcoming Democratic National Convention.



MTV's Street Team '08, comprising of select young journalists from around the nation, reports on local issues that are important to youth and the election. Students can navigate the site's peer-produced video clips, commentaries, and forums by topic.



The Webby-winning national news and culture magazine whose targeted audience is young people. In addition to providing daily content to over 60,000 monthly visitors, WireTap's articles and youth commentary are syndicated weekly by its partners at The Nation, Rock the Vote, the Chicago Sun-Times, and various college newspapers.[2]

Process Resources


Google Search How To


Google Search Lesson

Google Game

How to Search with Three Easy techniques







Download graphic organizers that fit your style



Cornell Note-taking  



A Cornell Note How to from Jim Burke







How to



How to



How to



How to



How to



How to



How to from Chimacum Schools



How to



Gist Statements



Mead School District Gist Strategy (just like ours :)    )



An example: The article and the gist statement in twenty words



The procedure we use




Evaluating Web Sites






Links to: How To; Online Interactives to create citations



A place to enter your information to create your citation


Key words



How to choose key words --- note there is a table of contents to several pages






Rules for Headlines



Let's look at headlines.  What do you notice?  Which ones grab your attention?  Why and How?



Web and Print: What's the difference?



Writing Effective Headlines



Writing Effective Headlines



Headlines for the Web




How tos for writing great "leads"



Writing great leads





Write with action



Writing effective paragraphs



How To Step by Step



Paragraph Writing



Lots of information on paragraphs





How to Step by Step



How to Step by Step



Basic Writing Tips



Teens speak out



Teens speak out



Teen Issues on the Campaign



Advice from writers to writers



How to with movie



Web and Print: What's the difference?


Persuasive Writing



Let's look at what it is -- our lessons



Online persuasive writing interactive helper



The Basics



Let's examine this rubric to review what we know about persuasive writing.


Go to the NOW Archive at http://www.pbs.org/now/thisweek/archive.html and select a program and subtitle that resonates with their own perspectives or points of interest. Some good examples include:



Use the right sidebar to find helps.



Download many helps we can use for lessons.  Which one works for you?



Sample Essay (partial available)



Sample persuasive essay from history




How To


Introductions and Conclusions:

Creating A Frame to guide your reader

  • Think of a single word, a story/historical reference, or a personal experience that can provide a visual way to explain your idea. It will be like "surrounding it much like a window frame surrounds a glass pane or a decorative frame surrounds a picture or mirror. Just as the right picture frame becomes one with the painting, the right rhetorical frame becomes one with the composition, enhancing as well as complementing."[1]
  • Refer to this frame as you introduce and conclude your letter.
  • Let the frame reinforce the main idea or bring in a sense of humor.
  • Examples from Romana Hillebrand:
    • Story/Poem Frame: "a student in my research class wrote a lengthy paper on the relationship between humans and plants, beginning her rather serious topic with a reference to a well-known nursery rhyme: 'Ring around the roses, a pocket full of posies . . . .'  She explains that the pocket full of flowers masked the stench of death during the time of the black plague, only one of the many useful purposes of plants that have benefited us throughout the ages. The paper ends with a reinforcement of the warning that we depend on plant life to add quality to our own lives: "Without plants, life on Earth would cease to exist as we know it: `ashes, ashes, we all fall down.'" and

    • Personal Experience Frame: "One student, writing about her struggle with obesity, puts to use the question that opens Snow White: 'Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?' The student quickly explains that, in her world, "fairest" is changed to "fattest." She further connects the device by describing her despair each time she stands before that cruel mirror. After revealing her struggle and her growing awareness of others who, for various reasons, do not "fit in," the paper ends with a new version of the mirror question: 'Who is the healthiest of them all?'" [2]

  • Introductions and conclusions tie your ideas together; using a story or experience frame adds a familiar and visual context that just may convince your readers to your view!




Google Sites 

Build an election-focused website by creating and editing pages, uploading files and embedding photos, videos, documents, presentations, calendars, charts and more on issues and concerns about which you think the next president should know and address.



  • Working alone or collaborating with others, create one of the following:
    • a "guide to the election" website
    • a "guide to the issues" website
    • a "compare the issues" website that compares the positions of the two major candidates on the ballot
  • Collect articles, photos and videos on important issues.
  • Add your opinions and analysis about which you think the next president should know and address:
    • In a gist statement, what is the issue?
    • In a gist statement, what is your opinion?
    • In a gist statement, what is your solution?
    • Ask a thoughtful (thick) question that causes others to analyze your opinion and your solution.[3]


Google Presentations 

Create, collaborate on and share professional-looking presentations about the candidates and issues, and the concerns you have for each candidate about which you think the next president should know and address.



  • Working alone or in a group, build a presentation on an election issue or candidate, and the issues and concerns about which you think the next president should know and address.
  • Create a presentation that explains the differences between candidates' positions on the issues.
  • Collect articles, photos and videos on important issues.
  • Add your opinions and analysis on the issues and concerns about which you think the next president should know and address:
    • In a gist statement, what is the issue?
    • In a gist statement, what is your opinion?
    • In a gist statement, what is your solution?
    • Ask a thoughtful (thick) question that causes others to analyze your opinion and your solution.[4][



Draw and add placemarks, photos and more to Google Maps, and share the results with others to show the location related to the issues and conerns about which you think the next president should know and address.



Working alone or in a group,

  • Create a MyMap to explore local history and landmarks that represent your issues on the election.
  • Chart the travels of the candidates on the campaign trail which connect to other areas with similar concerns to yours about which you think the next president should know and address.
  • Include in your notations:
    • In a gist statement, what is the issue?
    • In a gist statement, what is your opinion?
    • In a gist statement, what is your solution?
    • Ask a thoughtful (thick) question that causes others to analyze your opinion and your solution.[5]



Final Product:

Write about the issues and concerns you want the next president to address and publish your writing for a national audience using Google Docs template to express your issues and concerns about which you think the next president should know and address.


Washington Standards


EALR 1: The student understands and uses a writing process.

1.1.1 Analyzes and selects effective strategies for generating ideas and planning writing.

-Maintains a log or journal to collect and explore ideas; records observations, dialogues, and/or descriptions for later use as a basis for informational, persuasive, or literary writing.

-Uses a variety of prewriting strategies (e.g., story mapping, listing, webbing, jotting, outlining, free writing, brainstorming).

-Gathers and paraphrases information from a variety of resources (e.g., interviews, multimedia, periodicals) and chooses an organizer to analyze, synthesize, and/or evaluate information to plan writing

-Uses prewriting stage to determine purpose, analyze audience, select form, research background information, formulate theme (for narrative writing) or a thesis, and/or organize text.

1.2.1 Analyzes task and composes multiple drafts when appropriate.

·       Refers to prewriting plan.

·       Drafts according to audience, purpose, and time.

·       Drafts by hand and/or electronically.

·       Assesses draft and/or feedback, decides if multiple drafts are necessary, and explains decision.

1.3.1 Revises text, including changing words, sentences, paragraphs, and ideas.

·       Selects and uses effective revision tools or strategies based on project (e.g., referring to prewriting, checking sentence beginnings, combining sentences, using “cut and paste” word processing functions).

·       Rereads work several times and has a different focus for each reading (e.g., first reading — looking for variety of sentence structure and length; second reading — checking for clarity and specific word choice; third reading — checking for layers of elaboration and persuasive language).

·       Decides if revision is warranted.

·       Seeks and considers feedback from a variety of sources (e.g., adults, peers, community members, response groups).

·       Records feedback using writing group procedure (e.g., partner reads writer’s work aloud, and writer notes possible revision).

·       Evaluates and justifies the choice to use feedback in revisions (e.g., “I don’t want to change this because …”).

·       Revises typographic devices (e.g., bullets, numbered lists) to clarify text and to meet requirements of technical writing forms (e.g., lab reports, graphs).

·       Uses multiple resources to improve text (e.g., writing guide, assignment criteria, peer, adult, electronic or other thesaurus).

1.4.1 Edits for conventions (see 3.3).

·       Identifies and corrects errors in conventions.

·       Uses appropriate references and resources (e.g., dictionary, writing/style guide, electronic spelling and grammar check, conventions checklist, adult, peer).


1.5.1 Publishes in formats that are appropriate for specific audiences and purposes.

·       Uses available technological resources to produce, design, and publish a professional-looking final product (e.g., charts, overheads, word processor, photo software, presentation software, publishing software).

1.6.2 Uses collaborative skills in adapting writing process.

·       Delegates parts of writing process to team members (e.g., one member may interview; another may collect information from other resources).

·       Collaborates on drafting, revising, and editing.

1.6.3 Uses knowledge of time constraints to adjust writing process.


EALR 2: The student writes in a variety of forms for different audiences and purposes.

2.1.1 Applies understanding of multiple and varied audiences to write effectively.

·       Identifies an intended audience.

·       Identifies and includes information and uses appropriate language for a specific audience (e.g., defines technical or content-specific terms or jargon).

2.2.1 Demonstrates understanding of different purposes for writing.

·       Writes to pursue a personal interest, to explain, to persuade, to inform, and to entertain for a specified audience

·       Writes to analyze informational and literary texts.

·       Writes to learn (double-entry journal in math, social studies, or science; letter to teacher assessing own work; reflection).

EALR 3: The student writes clearly and effectively.

3.1.1 Analyzes ideas, selects a manageable topic, and elaborates using specific, relevant details and/or examples.

·       Presents a central idea, theme, and manageable thesis while maintaining a consistent focus (e.g., narrows the topic, uses an essential question to guide research and maintain focus).

·       Selects specific details relevant to the topic to extend ideas and develop elaboration (e.g., multiple examples, statistics, anecdotes, reasons).

·       Uses personal experiences, observations, and/or research to support opinions and ideas (e.g., relevant data to support conclusions in math, science, social studies; personal knowledge of an illness to persuade the audience that water pollution is dangerous).

3.1.2 Analyzes and selects effective organizational structure.

·       Writes unified, cohesive paragraphs (e.g., inverted pyramid: broad topic, narrowing focus, specific details).

·       Develops a compelling introduction (e.g., startling statement, setting/description, quotation).

·       Composes an effective ending/conclusion that is more than a repetition of the introduction (e.g., response to a “so what” question, connection to bigger picture).

·       Uses transitional words and phrases between paragraphs to show logical relationships among ideas (e.g., moreover … , because of this issue … , equally important … , as opposed to … ).

·       Selects and uses effective organizational patterns as determined by purpose:

- explanations (e.g., process description)

- comparison (e.g., all similarities grouped together and all differences grouped together)

- persuasion (e.g., vary sequence of arguments)

- narrative (e.g., problem-solution-outcome)

·       Emphasizes key ideas through appropriate use of text features (e.g., headings, charts, diagrams, graphs, bullets).

3.2.1 Applies understanding that different audiences and purposes affect writer’s voice.

·       Writes with a clearly defined voice appropriate to audience.

·       Writes in an individual, informed voice in expository, technical, and persuasive writing.

·       Writes from more than one point of view or perspective

3.2.2 Analyzes and selects language appropriate for specific audiences and purposes.

·       Selects and uses precise language to persuade or inform.

·       Selects and uses precise language in poetic and narrative writing.

·       Uses the vernacular appropriately.

·       Selects and uses specialized vocabulary relevant to a specific content area (e.g., meteorologist, climatology).

·       Selects and uses persuasive techniques (e.g., powerful and emotional imagery).

·       Selects and uses literary devices (e.g., metaphor, symbols, analogies).

·       Selects and uses sound devices in prose and poetry (e.g., two-syllable rhyme, repetition, rhythm, rhyme schemes).

·       Considers connotation and denotation when selecting works (plump vs. fat, shack vs. house).


3.2.3 Uses a variety of sentences consistent with audience, purpose, and form.

·       Writes a variety of sentence structures and lengths to create a cadence appropriate for audience, purpose, and form.

·       Writes a variety of sentence structures (e.g., inverts sentence to draw attention to the point being made in an essay: “Down the stream swam the salmon fingerlings.”).


EALR 4: The student analyzes and evaluates the effectiveness of written work.


4.1.1 Analyzes and evaluates writing using established criteria.

·       Identifies aspects of the author’s craft (e.g., point of view, purpose, bias).

·       Identifies persuasive elements in a peer’s writing and critiques the effectiveness (e.g., audience appeal, concession and rebuttal, call to action).

·       Explains accuracy of content and vocabulary for specific curricular areas (e.g., description of scientific procedure during a class lab).

4.1.2 Analyzes and evaluates own writing using established criteria.

·       Explains strengths and weaknesses of own writing using criteria (e.g., WASL, classroom-created, or 6-trait rubrics; scoring guides specific to purpose or form of assignment).

·       Rereads own work for the craft of writing (e.g., point of view, figurative language) as well as the content (e.g., specific and relevant information).

·       Uses criteria to choose and defend choices for a writing portfolio.

·       Provides evidence that goals have been met (e.g., selects piece that shows improved introduction technique).


National Standards

3 - Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

4 - Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

5 - Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

7 - Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

8 - Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.


12 - Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).


  1. From Google's "Election Tools for Educators" http://www.google.com/educators/elections_tools.html#target
  2. From the National Writing Project: http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/2642
  3. From Google's "Election Tools for Educators" http://www.google.com/educators/elections_tools.html#target
  4. From Google's "Election Tools for Educators" http://www.google.com/educators/elections_tools.html#target
  5. From Google's "Election Tools for Educators" http://www.google.com/educators/elections_tools.html#target

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