For my birthday last week, my girlfriend gave me a lovely orchid. It really was quite visually stunning. But we both agreed that more than 3 days in our home would be a death sentence for said plant, as neither of us are particularly green of thumb.
I decided, therefore, to take the lovely orchid to school. We'd just begun a unit on plant growth in Science, and were in the midst of examining flowering plants. The timing was perfect.
My grade threes were pretty excited about the orchid, and we decided to hold a contest: The student who wrote the most persuasive letter convincing me that s/he could provide a good home would get to keep the amazing plant.
I could not believe the quality of the writing!!! Although the assignment was optional, within an hour, I had 16 well-written letters on my desk. (A sample follows below; please click on any photo to enlarge.)
Others tugged at my heart strings: "I usually never get anything beautiful like this", wrote one student, "and so I would really like to have the orchid." It was hard to keep reading with dry eyes...
But what amazed me once again was the difference between some students' "regular writing" and the orchid letter: Truly, there is no comparison; when students have something real to write about, the quality of the penmanship, the organizational structure of the writing, and just the engagement factor to the reader increase exponentially, as in the two examples below, both written by the same student (the sample on the left is a regular writing sample, from about a week or two ago, the other is the same student's orchid letter) -- WOW!